There’s a website that boasts it’s so simple that “even a broker can use it.” It’s a tongue-in-cheek way to reassure CRE professionals about the ease of using the web-based application. But the message is only partly in jest.
A surprising number of smart, successful, well-educated people are still paralyzed by technology. Like a newborn in the arms of a childless person, they hold it nervously… fearful of breaking it, anxious about potential mistakes, data loss and irreparable errors.
There’s reason to believe a lot of those technologically disabled work in commercial real estate. Back in 2000, Xavier Menendez, a senior manager with Deloitte & Touche, described commercial real estate as “probably the most technophobic industry we know of.”
During the past eight years, the situation has gradually improved. In 2006, for instance, Dallas-based Ben Johnson wrote: In the rush to close more deals expeditiously, technology is finally playing an important role in streamlining the commercial real estate sales process nearly a decade after the invention of now everyday tech tools that include e-mail, portable document format (PDF) files and compressed images known as JPEGs.
The question now is whether CRE will continue to embrace technology-or whether technology will become the scapegoat for the mistakes, failures and unexpected losses resulting from the dismal state of the economy. Technology has improved how we accomplish things, but has also proven to be a distraction–think of all of the games we waste time playing on the computer at work or on the phone when we should really be productive.
Even so, the benefits seem to outweigh the potential liabilities-a message worth reiterating to remaining technophobes. All production functions in commercial real estate are directly influenced by technology, which increases the efficiency of the factors of production. Technology will adversely impact second-tier malls and power centers but the overall level of penetration by e-commerce into the space-based retail market is predicted to be only a little over 5 percent by 2010. Commercial real estate will not experience a real decline in value and an absolute decline in demand for product as a result of technological developments.