There is a special label for those brave few who are willing to venture forth, take risks, and try new technologies in an endless quest to discover new competitive advantages: Early adopters.
Early adopters are never satisfied with what works. They want to constantly iterate, and to constantly improve. For them, the status quo does not exist, or simply isn’t acceptable.
But you won’t find many early adopters in the commercial real estate space, where taking risks isn’t the norm. And there is a reason for that: CRE Culture. (Kudos to Duke Long on this great catalyst of an article.)
The technology may be titanic, but it can be sunk by a failure to communicate
CRE is notorious for moving at a glacial speed when it comes to change, with members willing to stay the course so long as the profits remain steady. Why rock the boat if the boat will eventually get to its destination?
They’ll inevitably move to adopt new technologies if the benefit is there. The issue is that by the time the majority of companies do, the competitive advantage is lost. It is no longer a “new” technology – it is old hat, tried-and-true, run-of-the-mill stuff.
And that is okay, if you don’t want to be competitive and grow your business.
But it isn’t the fault of the CRE company who fails to adopt an emerging technology. Nope. The blame lies in the CRE Tech company that fails to address what their technology means for a customer’s business.
CRE Tech companies must connect the dots better
As our own Scott Sidman, SVP of Building Engines stated in his 2016 CRE Tech forecast, “a fundamental trust of the CRE market is that it requires exceptional service and support for all applications, regardless of how easy they are to use.” And that “exceptional service and support” starts at the very beginning of the sales process.
CRE Tech companies need to immediately address the main benefits of their product, targeting key areas they know their target customers struggle with, explain their implementation process in plain English, and just generally be there to help every step of the way. People won’t just “get it.”
If CRE Tech companies want to inspire adoption, they have to think like their users:
- Do the research
- Ask relevant questions
- Determine possible bottlenecks or problem areas
- Attack problems from all angles
- Test, iterate, test, and iterate some more!
Technology is nothing without the people that power it
Perhaps the term “early adopter” isn’t appropriate in the realm of CRE. It might just be too closely associated with “never being satisfied with what works.” Translated into business jargon, that just sounds like a pit in which money is endlessly dumped.
And that just isn’t what CRE tech is.
CRE technology is about empowering commercial real estate companies to do what they already do – but better.
So let’s step back, and call the people who bravely step forth to try and improve their business what they really are: thought leaders. These people are the ones who will see the benefit of new, great technologies, and implement them to great effect.