Hire a Techno-Mentor to Keep Up with Sweeping Change

Fall 2010

A veritable tsunami of technological change is sweeping over every business including those in commercial real estate. You can keep up with that change, adjust your business accordingly and profit from it, or fall behind.

This is the warning from Dan Burrus, author of Technotrends® and CEO of Burrus Research Associates, Inc., Hartland, Wisconsin. Burrus was featured in a recent NAIOP Solution Series program, "Using Your Mobile Device to Connect to Critical Real Estate Information on the Fly." The session was moderated by John McDermott, senior vice president, Sperry Van Ness.

John McDermott

John McDermott

Right now we are shifting from a period of rapid change, which we all know well, to a period of even more rapid change, concluded Burrus. For example, in a short period of time people moved from listening to music on 33 LPs, to CDs, to an entire music collection on an iPod to listen to it any time.

Burrus said there is a hardware and software revolution: the hardware revolution is taking place on the smart phones and iPads while the software revolution involves the so-called "apps," small programs that run on the above-mentioned devices.

Apps have only been around for a couple of years now and they have ballooned to 300,000 being available through the Apple Store, sellers of the iPhone and iPad. There have been more than five billion and counting downloads of these apps. The last billion downloads have taken place in the last 30 days.

What do apps have to do with your real estate business? Plenty! Burrus’ company alone has already created three dynamic real estate-related apps and there are many others doing it. The apps he has created include: "Complete Rentals," which contains all of the apartments, condos and homes for rent in the U.S.; "Complete Foreclosure," which is all of the foreclosed homes in the nation; and "Complete Homes," which is all of the regular homes for sale in the nation.

A major change is beginning in how people will get information. "We have a long way to go," he continued. "We are at the beginning of a giant change. People will use apps on construction sites and everywhere else in the building industry. They will use them to communicate, collaborate and coordinate not only with the customer but also with all of the different people they have to work with."

Daniel Burrus

Dan Burrus

How do you respond to all of this in your real estate business? Burrus suggested that you look at the long-term decision-makers in your company. Typically, these decisions are made by the senior, experienced people in the company. Unfortunately, these people are long on experience and short on being tech savvy. "Speak to younger people. Perhaps hire a techno-mentor, a kid who is up on everything," said Burrus.

As revolutionary a product as the smart phones are, Burrus is looking at Apple’s iPad as an even bigger revolution. "The iPad will be a major tool in real estate," he said. "On a laptop, you have to have a screen, open it up and sit down in a chair to use it. But most real estate people are on the move. With an iPad, you can put it down on a table and have a group of people stand around it. Since no one is using a mouse to operate it, anyone can touch the screen and participate. Not only that, the iPad is a telephone--a free phone. So it is a revolution."