It's not about Disruption - it's much more important than that

March 2015

Eighteen years after Clay Christensen wrote The Innovator’s Dilemma, and launched the concept of ‘Disruption’ on the business world, we at last have main agenda sessions at MIPIM on the subject. But, you know what, whilst disruption is indeed a hot topic, it is not where the real estate world should be focussing. There is a bigger picture to embrace.

If you want real disruption in real estate then you need to be working on taking out the whole world of agency, automating transactions, circumventing existing real estate banking and essentially making the ecosystem that meets annually at MIPIM redundant. Is that what you want? Can you see it happening?

Thought not. Yes it may happen in areas (Pop Up stores spring to mind) but unless we, as an industry, completely fail to grasp the real value of technology, to us and our customers, it is unlikely.

For there is a much wider goal we should be aiming at. And that is turning Real Estate into a truly, end to end, digital industry, where by combining highly skilled humans with the pervasiveness and capabilities of modern technology we create value by improving the lot of everyone we touch. Whether colleagues, clients, partners or suppliers, we all do more, with less, more efficiently and more productively. For each other. And by doing so we make the world a better place. And profit by doing so. It was Benjamin Franklin who said “Do Well by Doing Good” – well 250 years later the idea still resonates doesn’t it? And in a world connected by technology you’ll ignore this at your peril. If only for the sake of business, doing good is a sensible strategy.

You may have heard about the Oxford Martin report suggesting that 47% of jobs will disappear in the next 20 years at the hands of technology. The march of the robots. Well, I’d say hurrah to that. As we let computers do what they are good at, as we have to, they will free us from the mundanity of much work that we currently have to do, and free us to do what we, as humans, are good at. And that is being creative, using our imagination, having empathy and intuition.

The bigger picture is how to embrace the opportunities afforded by modern technologies to make your business x10 better than it is now. It is about how to do much more with much less, how to have wider, deeper, more timely data, provide a better service to customers, remove friction in every interaction, collaborate better, have a wider pool of talent on tap, engage and be engaged better than you currently are.

We in the real estate industry have the responsibility to create great places, where people love to be and that make them happy and productive. It is this industry that sits at the heart of the great global urbanisation that is occurring. If we simply focus on using all the tools at our command to create great places then we will have succeeded. If we don’t then we really do deserve to be disrupted.


This was first published in the Estates Gazette MIPIM 2015 Guide