What Planet Property can and needs to learn from Planet Tech

November 2015

I joined 42,000 people from Planet Tech at WebSummit in Dublin recently. These are the key trends I think Planet Property should engage with. Within 2-5 five years I believe they will start to seriously impact on the value of your physical and corporate assets.

The PC Era is over. As with Battleships and Spyplanes being perfected just as they became redundant, so it is with PC’s. Microsoft’s Surface Pro is the perfect PC, but the world has moved on. The Smartphone era is just starting. The platform has been built, iOS and Android have won, and now you’re getting an explosion of innovation on top of that platform. 325 million PC’s are sold a year but 2 billion mobile phones. Computing is now reaching a scale an order of magnitude bigger than we’ve been used to. How will this change the workplace?

Think Robot. Robots, at WebSummit, were defined as non human objects that can sense, think and act. And robots are going to be everywhere: Industrial, social, medical, military and domestic versions will proliferate. Think automation. McKinsey reckon 45% of work activities could be automated using existing technologies. How will this change the way we use property?

Cognitive computing is exploding. As exemplified by IBM Watson, which is a platform that uses natural language processing and machine learning to derive insights from a multitude of data sources. How could cognitive computing transform how we find, manage and optimise real estate?

Artificial intelligence, in the wider sense will usher in the era of the Intelligent Agent. Think Apple’s Siri, Google Now or Facebook’s M project and you can see how AI is being used to humanise computing. The best interface is no inferface they say; just ask your intelligent agent for something and they will work out how it can be done for you. Of course the human skill is in knowing the right question to ask, but in real estate terms how long will it be before AI is brought to bear on disparate, unstructured data sets to augment the services we can offer clients?

The Blockchain, which is the computational underpinning behind Bitcoin, will be huge in real estate. Already it being used by Honduras to build their first land title registry, but the scope for use in providing trust and authentication in contracts is great, particularly in areas where the rule of law is moot.

At WebSummit everyone took The CloudConnectivity and Networks to be basic infrastructure. No-one looks to build single vendor IT systems nowadays. Put your data somewhere authorised people can get to it, wherever they are, make sure it can be utilised whatever technology you or your partners choose to use, and above all, have as fast an internet connection as is possible. How like the average real estate company set up is that?

There truly is a wave of transformational technologies reaching commodity status and they will reshape how the entire built environment is conceived, designed, built and used. The key message is to not approach this new world through the lens of old school thinking; the past is not being digitised but reinvented.

And that is without mentioning the sex robots!