Publications

- October 1, 2019: Vol. 11, Number 9

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Digital disruption: Given a chance, the wise use of technology can radically change how the real estate industry operates — for the better

by Alex Frew McMillan

Technology and property are, in some senses, bound to be at odds, so it is understandable the real estate industry has traditionally resisted technological change. Change is being thrust upon that industry, however, by investors, tenants and employees, meaning the threat of the dreaded disruption is severe.

Why are they at odds? The movement first to computers and then to smartphones and other enabled devices has created a cyberspace that is often an alternative to literal space. Many functions — such as banking, shopping, job hunting and even dating, to name a few — are no longer required to be done in person. Even property site visits for site selection, construction, occupancy or ownership are, if not optional, drastically reduced.

In short, a business that could not be more traditional now has to adapt to a world that exists nowhere — or in practical terms, in a digitally distributed network spanning the globe. Real estate investors will need to identify the

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