If the real estate industry is more than a series of transactions, if it is more than the signing of contracts and the consummation of deals, if it is more than the art of even the biggest deal, replete with speeches and groundbreaking ceremonies, if it is more about building relationships than constructing some generic-style building, then it must be a business of advice. A business of counsel. A business of analysis. A business of advisors, by advisors, for the good of all businesses.
Which is to say the real estate industry is in the midst of “tech-tonic” change: a shift above ground as great as any movement below; as serious, economically, as the costliest collision of tectonic plates, because the quake that will strike—the Big One—will be more fiscally disruptive than physically destructive.
Its epicenter is within the ethereal realm of technology: everywhere yet elusive just the same, because there is no one location for the algorithms that govern electronic commerce, including real estate advertising, sales, and the rankings of individual agents or brokers.
Without the help of a business advisor, who can interpret data, there is only one interpretation about the near future of the real estate industry: passivity. That is, technological change is so conclusive, its casualties so clear, one cannot help but conclude that inaction is inexcusable.
According to Nick Chini, Managing Partner of Bainbridge, technology is at the forefront of the rise of smart cities, innovations in urban planning, and the development of various commercial real estate projects.
In turn, the role of a business advisor is to avoid generalities. To abjure restating the obvious, albeit in the vernacular of white papers and PowerPoint presentations, and offer real, measurable value.
By value, I mean a straightforward answer. An answer based on the wisdom of a particular advisor. An answer based on that advisor’s analysis of intelligence, with the aid of artificial intelligence (AI), so he may extrapolate from what technology shows but does not tell: a course of action about where to invest, or when not to invest, thanks to that advisor’s ability to read what few can barely decipher; thanks to his ability to advise—to offer advice—that is smart because it is sound.
Make room for that business advisor.
Include a team of similar advisors, since the real estate industry will need these people.
The real estate industry needs people with the independence to speak truth to power. To go beyond the power to compute. To have the power to do what no computer can do on its own: persuade.
A business advisor must persuade an executive to act, not for the sake of doing something in lieu of nothing, but for reasons of prudence.
The evidence is in the rationale behind a recommendation, complemented by an advisor’s appeal to facts instead of feelings. The evidence makes it easier for an advisor to be persuasive, provided his argument is direct, his directive unambiguous, his position unequivocal.
A business advisor of that sort deserves a spot—an important one—in the real estate industry of today, and tomorrow, because now is the time to prepare for the changes described above.