Last year, Accenture's Technology Vision raised a few eyebrows stating that "every business is a digital business". On the one hand, you have companies that are being challenged by technology. And on the other, there are those who are actively embracing it and reaping the benefits. Like two sides of the same coin, we can no longer separate 'business' from 'IT'. If you want to be the best in your industry sector, you absolutely need to harness the power of technology. Because when IT and business come together in the right way, your company can begin to unlock its true potential.
On the journey to becoming more digitally enabled, many businesses feel like they're navigating through unchartered territory. Here are a few guiding principles to consider:
1) Embrace change
It is true that change is the only constant in life. Like many companies, yours might be in a 'comfort zone' – you have your processes that work. You tick all the boxes, dot the i's and cross the t's. But it's important to acknowledge that there may be a better way of doing things. It's important to be open to change. By strategically harnessing the power of technology, you can unlock your business processes, making it more efficient. This will not only give you more time to focus on your clients, but it will also enhance their experience. By truly embracing change, you will also boost your company's profile and become seen as an obvious leader in your industry.
2) Keep an eye out for disruptive technology
Tweet it, Like it or lump it, disruptive technology refuses to be ignored. Facebook disrupted the communications industry. Twitter disrupted the media industry. And LinkedIn disrupted the human resources industry. With every year that passes, our world is becoming increasingly interconnected and interdependent. Businesses need to understand that they do not exist within a bubble, and that it can be detrimental to turn a blind eye on disruptive technology. Rather identify what may seem naturally uncomfortable and embrace it.
For example, consider how Big Data can impact on the Real Estate industry offering a significant return on investment. By gathering huge amounts of data, you can start to identify trends which may impact on your business. Overlaying a plethora of information, you can gain invaluable insights and shift your company to be more in synch with the market.
It's not all about technology. The same applies to disruptive ideas. Consider one of the Real Estate industry norms… Fixed term and size leases, for example. Businesses are ever-changing, growing or shrinking. So why not invent a leasing model to match? Imagine if you could offer your clients flexible space solutions and flexible contracts to better suit the fluid nature of their business. It's undeniable that implementing an idea like this could really give your company the edge.
3) Reward innovation
In their 1997 campaign, Apple told the world to 'think different'. This famous advert celebrates "The round pegs in the square holes… while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do." These words are as true now as they were then. In the Real Estate Industry, which is often deemed conservative, you have all the more reason to celebrate those who think differently and reward innovation accordingly. As an organisation, consider how open you are to change. Allow people to take risks in a calculated manner. By giving people the space to think freely, you will be amazed by the opportunities that present themselves.
4) Listen to your market
In the competitive world of Real Estate, it's important to be in touch with your clients' needs and offer solutions to meet their business requirements. Whether it's Green Spaces, value-added features or innovation, if you fail to offer what your clients need, they will simply look elsewhere. I would go one step further to say that you need to know what they're looking for before they do… ask what the tenant of the future is going to need. It may be the ability for the tenant to report on their energy savings, or for them to communicate with their customers through a technological platform, or possibly the need to drive traffic digitally to their stores. No matter what it is, make sure you're offering it before the other guys do.
It's a brave new world out there. You need to go in with your eyes wide open, acknowledging that there may be times when you miss things. This is to be expected, but if you can adopt a mind-set which embraces considered risk-taking, you will stand your company in good stead.
Technological innovation is happening all around us. The pace is fast and the window is small. As an organisation, you can either grab the opportunity or shy away from the challenge (risking irrelevance). With every year that passes, expectations grow and benchmarks shift. And if you're lagging behind, customers will notice. The key is to decide where you see your company on the digital curve, and then work out a strategic plan to help shape your business into one that is truly future fit.