di Assen Makedonov, FIABCI World President, 2018-19
«In just a couple of weeks, FIABCI members from around the world will gather in Moscow for our 70th World Real Estate Congress. I am very excited about this event. Like Dubai, Andorra, Kuala Lumpur and others that came before it, the Moscow Congress provides an opportunity for FIABCI members to come together to renew friendships and generate business opportunities. It also marks the annual presentation of FIABCI’s Prix de Excellence Award, recognizing property innovations from around the world and crowning the best of the best with our Gold Award in 16 categories. And, it’s our opportunity to hear from industry thought leaders and market experts on what’s happening in various sectors and world regions.
One of those thought leaders is renowed Economist Elena Panaritis, who will give the opening speech at the World Congress. Elena Panaritis worked closely over the years with the Greek Government, holding several high-level positions including Senior Economic Advisor, was recognized with honors and awards for her unique contribution to transform crisis stricken markets/economies people who live in informality, among other remarkable feats.
But the upcoming Congress in Moscow particularly stands out in my mind for its universally relevant theme of technology as a disruptor. No matter what your business focus or sector, this year’s Congress theme, “Digital Era of Real Estate” is especially relevant.
In a short period of time, we’ve seen tech start-ups upend many well-established industries (think taxis and hotels). Companies such as Uber and Airbnb have changed these industries, forcing them to adapt to a new competitive environment in order to survive.
Many view the real estate industry as ripe for disruption, in part, because we’ve been slow to embrace technology to make our business more efficient. According to start-up data provider CB Insights, real estate tech start-ups raised US$3.4 billion in 2017 — a five-fold increase from 2013. This growth trend continues. Statista (a statistics portal) recently reported that the volume of real estate tech deals globally in 2018 was US$4.8 billion. For entrepreneurs with a new idea, this is great news, but if you’re a practitioner just trying to grow your business…well, it can be a little overwhelming and a bit scary to ponder how these new technologies might change how we do business.
But much like the introduction of the Internet (and the prediction that real estate agents would go the way of travel agents), disruptive technology don’t necessarily bode badly for our industry. Instead, I believe that those who embrace digital industry innovations will have a competitive edge. Our job descriptions may shift from being transactional in nature to being more advisory, but expert advice is essential in any transaction. Advice is also hard to automate and, most importantly, it’s at the very heart of our value proposition — providing guidance to our clients based on experience and expertise.
Next month in Moscow we’ll have the opportunity to learn more about how artificial intelligence, big data, BIM technology, blockchain and other “disrupting” technologies are changing our industry. These (or other) digital technologies are inevitable. Some have already made their mark on our industry while others are still in their infancy. We can’t control their progression (nor should we want to), but we can control our response. And the best possible response is to better understand the impact digital technologies will have on our businesses and how to reap maximum benefits by embracing the momentum.
Change is coming and we should welcome that change».