New Voices - Technology’s Role Across Generations

Fall 2012

At the April 2012 National Forums Symposium in Miami, the Industry Trends Task Force discussed their use of personal technology devices and social media in their work and personal lives. Bridging the Generation Gaps in CRE: Digital Natives ‘Splain Things to Digital Immigrants provided a platform for seasoned professionals to engage with the younger generation in a discussion about recent technology trends.

NAIOP Developing Leaders (DLs) Ariel Bedell, The Loftin Firm LLP, Carlsbad, Calif.; Holton Wilkerson, Empire Properties, Raleigh, N.C.; Megan Creecy-Herman, EJM Development Company, Scottsdale, Ariz.; and Morgan Reed Landers, EFG Brownfield Partners LLC, Denver, Colo., represented the “digital natives,” while Steve Martin, Chairman of the Industry Trends Task Force, represented the “digital immigrants.”
The session centered on how technology, and companies like Apple, are changing the way information is delivered, as well as impacting how we communicate and carry out business. Martin began the discussion saying, “I still read actual newspapers and have done so for the last 30 years. It’s a ‘feel’ thing.” That was a stark contrast to Bedell’s view of how things are today. “Everything is so integrated; I use my devices for almost everything. I watch the news on my iPhone and don’t even read the magazines that come to my house anymore. I just read them on my iPad,” she noted.

Applications, or “apps,” are one of the major conveniences when using a smartphone or tablet (iPad, Kindle, etc.). Wilkerson touted a few apps that have made his life easier and are used frequently. “Twitterific allows me to catch up on trends and news, and my GasBuddy app helps me to find the best priced gas station near me.” Bedell commented, “I use my phone for the maps, store and restaurant listings, news and magazines. I even draft short documents and do a bit of editing.”

There was a question among the digital immigrants as to whether this lean toward the use of social media is hurting business and networking. LinkedIn, which is a popular professional networking website, serving as a digital resume for users, is seen in two different lights. “I have a LinkedIn account to appease other individuals, but I don’t use it. My feeling is that you have my email, so you can contact me. I don’t need to network with you on LinkedIn,” said Martin. However, NAIOP DL Bedell highlighted the positive uses of the site. “From a recruiting standpoint, LinkedIn helps me reach out to folks who may be qualified for a position I’m trying to fill. When searching for jobs, the younger generation doesn’t pick up a newspaper. You search online and LinkedIn can actually lead to excellent job opportunities.”

It goes without saying that every industry will continue to move forward with technology. Businesses are constantly changing to take advantage of tools like virtual conference calls, online networking and all-in-one devices. While there still remains a gap between digital natives and digital immigrants, it seems that digital immigrants are catching up with the technologically advanced world. Even NAIOP chapters have embraced technology with several hosting their own LinkedIn groups and Facebook pages.

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