Commercial Property - The Four Tech Megatrends that Matter

May 2013

This blog is going to be honing in on the effect of technology on commercial real estate and the way we work. Below you’ll find the broad parameters of where we’re going. Just a teaser; there’s much more to come.

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Way back in 1995 the IT Director of what was then Healey & Baker described the Internet as ‘a solution in search of a problem’, and in doing so encapsulated the nostrum that property people are clueless about technology. Quite why is difficult to say, as the industry is full of brain power and hardly other worldly. It defies explanation.

Today though even the most oblivious do at least recognise that the internet is important, and here to stay. It’s taken well over a decade, but hallelujah, we made it.

There is just one problem. ‘Getting’ the internet is no longer enough. That’s as useful as knowing the earth rotates around the sun. Tech has moved on, bigtime. All change.

Software is about to Eat The World*, and you need to understand how.

THE FOUR MEGATRENDS

Mobile: 207,000,000 smartphones were sold worldwide in the last quarter of 2012. That’s four times the number of babies born. Apple sold 19,500,000 iPads alone in the last quarter. In the UK over 6,000,000 people have a smartphone AND a tablet.

We are moving to a ‘mobile first’ world at breakneck speed. Far faster than anyone imagined a few years ago. In the UK nearly 1/3rd of all web page views are now from a phone or tablet. The trend is aggressive and getting more so.

The Cloud
Computing is moving from your PC and local network to ‘The Cloud’. Which means where you work and how you work is going to change radically. It is not a fad, or insecure, or sadly (for most) an option. Much more to come on this but for now just prick up your ears when you hear it mentioned.

Internet of Things
Ever heard of IPV6? Well, this is the latest incarnation of how internet addresses (think of url’s such as www.bbc.co.uk etc) are mapped to particular computer servers. And it has space for 340,282,366,920,938,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 unique addresses. This compared to the previous version which only had space for a few billion.

A few decades ago the notion of needing more than a few billion addresses seemed ridiculous, and in a world where these addresses mainly mapped to web URL’s that was fair enough. But the Internet of Things is going to change of all of that and reinvent our mindset as to what needs an IP address.

As the term suggests the Internet of Things is about every ‘thing’ having a unique address. Anything that can be monitored, or anything where supporting data or information would make its use better or more efficient or more secure or more useful can now, and will in time, have its own address. And when you can monitor every ‘thing’ the world changes. Largely, but not always, for the better.

The technology is now at a price point where The internet of Things is about to take off.

Connectivity
Everything depends on connectivity. And the faster the better. In the UK 33 in every 100 inhabitants has access to broadband. 100mb broadband is becoming commonplace, at least for people at home in urban areas. And the great people at B4RN (http://b4rn.org.uk/) are rolling out 1000mb connections for the ‘Rural North’.

This is game changing. It is the connective tissue that allows the new machine to work. Without high speed connectivity we are simply not going to be able to participate in the coming era of tech-enabled growth and prosperity.

These four trends are symbiotic. They feed off and reinforce each other. All play a part but together they are exponentially more powerful than on their own. They will affect you, and whether for good or for ill is up to you.

Stayed tuned – as they used to say on the radio:)

* See Marc Andreesen – http://bit.ly/LlqYL6