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6 tech predictions for 2018 and how they’ll impact CRE

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blurry_city-320x202.jpegTechnology is evolving faster than ever before. From Bitcoin’s explosive growth to drones buzzing in parks and construction sites across the country, 2017 was a year of rapid tech growth.

There’s reason to believe that growth will accelerate this year, and given how technology is impacting every segment of the industry, CRE professionals would do well to stay on top of unfolding trends—even those not directly related to the industry. From the fate of blockchain to increased job automation, here are six tech predictions for 2018.

1. Growth of blockchain and digital currencies

With Bitcoin’s incredible surge last year (the price of one coin went from $1,000 to peak near $20,000), it’s no longer possible to ignore digital currencies or blockchain technology. Thanks to its secure ledger, everyone from banks to healthcare companies are likely to start adopting blockchain systems this year.

When it comes to CRE, blockchain could increase transparency and limit fraud, making it easier to close deals faster and more efficiently. And as Bitcoin and other digital currencies become more popular, they could be used to finance more and more CRE deals.

2. Smart chatbots

Machine learning algorithms are a big part of artificial intelligence. This year, experts said that means chatbots.

For a few years companies have been experimenting with chatbots, hoping to enhance customer service while reducing the costs of call centers and service reps. Many of those experiments have been successful, and today’s technology lets chatbots learn how to respond to questions and actually predict what customers want.

Whether it’s helping brokers comb through prospect lists or assisting property managers when analyzing vendors, CRE chatbot adoption is ready to spike.

3. Internet of Things gets bigger

Everyday more devices are connected to each other through the Internet of Things, and that process will only speed up this year. While it’s hard to judge which industries will benefit the most, in the world of CRE, industrial is a strong contender.

Many industrial warehouses are already using a combination of sensors and robots connected through the IoT to boost efficiencies and cut costs. These “smart warehouses” are expected to multiply and become even more sophisticated over the course of 2018.

4. Increased cloud adoption

Cloud adoption rates have grown considerably over the last few years and they’re expected to keep growing in 2018. While security concerns are still the largest impediment to faster adoption, organizations are steadily becoming more comfortable making the shift.

Cloud systems can save up to 30% of IT costs while making it easier and faster to complete transactions thanks to e-signatures and the ease of accessing information on different devices at any time. Along with other industries, CRE companies are expected to continue to move more and more to the cloud this year.

5. Better virtual reality

While most experts agree virtual reality is years away from realizing its full potential, every year forward is a step in the right direction. That includes 2018, and this year virtual reality technologies are likely to become more sophisticated and better geared at their respective markets. If that happens we can expect adoption to soar.

That’s especially true for CRE, considering the two are a natural fit. Virtual reality can enhance the design process by enabling teams to see and change a space before it exists. The tech also promises to save time by letting prospects tour a property virtually. Companies like Matterport and Virtual Xperience are already fine-tuning virtual reality for the CRE world, and it’s only a matter of time before it becomes commonplace.

6. Job automation advances

Everyone loves how technology creates new opportunities, boosts efficiencies and just makes business easier. Yet a lot of the technology we love is also reshaping roles in the workforce. While few professional jobs are likely to be taken over by robots this year, many jobs will keep moving towards greater automation.

In the long-run not even brokers are safe — a report from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors said up to 90% of the core tasks performed by people in real estate service firms could be taken over by technology by 2027. While luckily that deadline is years away, automation is expected to impact the industry in the short-term as companies modify office locations, layouts and designs in response to increasing automation in the workforce.