Article by Charles "Chic" Noll
The June NAIOP meeting featured a thought provoking discussion led by Kristi Woolsey of MAYA Design (a BCG company) in Pittsburgh. She is the lead for the Creative Design team at MAYA. She titles her discussion “Real Estate in our Digital Future: Behavioral and Technology trends that will drive your markets”. But the ideas and thought coming from this discussion will certainly impact many more professions than just the real estate community.
She starts the discussion by pointing out that we must focus on the way human behavior is changing, not the actual technology trends themselves. For example, it is seeming apparent that averarage square footage per person in commercial office space is shrinking. Instead of focusing on those numbers, she urges us to look at the behaviors that are leading to this shift in capital spending and other areas that will impact the marketplace.
Kristi lays out the following themes she has found in her research as areas where we might focus our thoughts and design our organizations response to these shifts in human behavior.
Asynchronous Communication, or the transmission of data has become the preferred way of communicating. For example, texting is becoming a preferred way of communicating, “text me when you want to talk to me, and I will text you back when I am ready.” Notes Kristi. She follows up this thought indicating that a more “liquid” or flexible office space is preferred because of this behavior trend. At the same time, it is important to build trust and to build trust and credibility, people need to be physically together and see each other. Remote presence robots may be the new way of designing office space. Entire organizations are re-designing the way they view office space.
There are No Boundaries to how we will want live our lives. For example, cars are viewed as a limitation to how and where we want to travel. Only 21 percent of 16-year old’s have a drivers license today...compared to 54 percent in 1986. How will you market your product in the boundless world we are headed to? Your product will only gain attention if it will make me look amazing. Consumers will shift their buying habits to where this idea can be fulfilled
The Power of Many is an idea that is gaining popularity in everything from writing programming code to diversity in corporations. For example, computer organizations are using 2 people to do computer programming. One person writes the code, the other person checks it as it is written. The power of diversity beats IQ for problem solving every time. Numerous studies have proven this out. Kristi is quick to also point out that if there is a woman in the C-Suite, S&P 500 firms were up $42 Million in profits just as result if the diversified C-Suite.
As part of her discussion, Kristi highlighted the fact that the fourth trend is more Individual Freedom in world today. These freedoms are being sought after and successfully employed. For example, it has become very easy to start your own business. In 2016 35% people were self employed or contract workers and by 2020 this percentage will be closer to 50%
Another behavior shift she sheds light on is that Simple and Easy is constantly being sought after by the consumer. Successful companies will be looking for where their customers have inconvenience. Just push a cart out of Costco without going through the checkout line. Sensors will read all the items in your cart and your account will be charged appropriately. In India, there are not enough cash stations, so the bank set up a taxi service to bring the cash to you.
Finally, Kristi points out that technology is continually shifting to the point that Everything Is Connected. We will come to utilize On-Demand Distribution. Just push a button when you need something and it will be delivered instantly. Sensors are gathering more and more data and the use if this data will become an ever increasingly important part of what impacts our lives. We will have smart ovens, smarter phones, smart lighting in smart buildings, smart cities. The possibilities of how to use the data we are gathering are endless.
Kristi summarizes that if we want to sell real estate services to this new type of data empowered organization, the people that we need to be speaking to are the HR and IT departments. What new ways of using these behavioral trends can be put into place inside these organizations bringing the link between data and the employee ever closer. Our own imaginations are the only limitations to reaching this ever-improving organization.
Kristi also spoke at TEDx last month on the power of choice in a digital-physical world. That video is now available on line by clicking this link.