“The way you view the future shapes how you act, and how you act shapes the future,” opened technology and innovation futurist Daniel Burrus in his keynote presentation to CRE.Converge 2018 attendees. Sure, there are cycles in every industry, including commercial real estate, but there are predictable problems and predictable opportunities all around us.
Burrus said it all starts with a new mindset, noting that, “Managers change how you behave, leaders change how you think.”
Agility is how people deal with change, often reacting quickly after a problem occurs or after disruption upends business as usual. Most of us think disruption is negative, unless you are the disruptor. Burrus asked the audience if they believed Amazon founder Jeff Bezos disliked disruptors. Of course not – he and his company are the disruptors!
There are two types of trends Burrus identified: Soft trends are based on assumptions and can be easily changed; hard trends are based on future facts – and therein lie the opportunities.
Burrus pointed out that demographics are changing. Aging baby boomers are only getting older, and he provided an example of how to capitalize on this trend: the development of smart watches for seniors that are easy to operate, track health indicators, and could even help direct them home when they’ve gone out for a walk.
Burrus warned against internal “wars” at organizations that position younger employees against older ones. He made it clear that company leaders should put an immediate halt to that type of divisive culture. Instead, organizations should capitalize on generational strengths, blending the wisdom of the older generations with the energy and innovation of the younger generations.
Increased wireless bandwidth, artificial intelligence, the internet of things and the use of behavior analytics are growing at an exponential rate. Burrus said you can either ride this technology wave or be disrupted by it.
Burrus outlined what he calls his “pathways to innovation,” phenomenon that are shaping our businesses and lives. Included on this list: dematerialization, virtualization, convergence of industries and globalization. Burrus urged attendees to think ahead on these issues so that they stay ahead of the competition. He said that within the next five years, hard trends will transform how we market, sell, communicate, collaborate, educate and more.
“When you know where you’re going, the future becomes clearer,” said Burrus, challenging the audience to carve out one hour a week to unplug from the present and plug into the future. Instead of focusing on what you don’t know, focus on the hard trends you do know and think about how you can create opportunity from it.
Kathryn Hamilton is Vice President for Marketing and Communications at NAIOP Corporate.