The iEffect

Technology continues to reshape how and where work gets done.  Millions of Americans are reaching for their smartphone or tablet before they reach for their laptop.  They are doing more of their daily work outside of the confines of a traditional office.  They expect to be able to work anywhere at anytime.  This new way of working will have major reverberations, especially for the commercial real estate industry.
This point of view is by Waident Technology's CEO, John Ahlberg.  For a printable version of this article, click here.
Not too long ago, people were faced with having all of the powerful technology at their job and only in their office. Today, the paradigm has shifted, and most users have more flexible and powerful technology in their pocket or at home than they do in the office. The advent of increasingly sophisticated mobile devices, the ubiquity of high-speed internet access and the growth of empowering technology such as VOIP and cloud services have the potential to cut workers loose from the chains of a 9-to-5 work environment.   I call this the "iEffect." I won't pretend to know all the implications of the iEffect, but I can suggest a couple of important ones for the commercial real estate industry.
  • Users and their support services increasingly don't need to be in the same location.¬† Consider technology support as an example.¬† With more people doing more work in more locations, support already has to be remote.¬† Sophisticated monitoring tools and a responsive help desk need to be a click or call away, but they don't all need to be in the office - or even on staff.¬† Companies need the increasingly sophisticated expertise, but not the space and cost overhead.¬† Accounting?¬† HR?¬† Legal?¬† Every support function can be thusly evaluated: how do businesses get abilities they need, while increasing how nimbly they get them?¬† Can they quickly and cheaply expand or contract their support without having the overhead or inertia of a large staff or a large amount of office space?
  • Office space needs will change.¬† Many companies' workforce is working remotely much of the time, suggesting a new model for what space those workers will need when they are in the office.¬† As for their technology support, they won't need a lot of onsite IT staff.¬† Further, since data will be in a secure cloud, the need for office space for servers will be eliminated.¬† Suddenly many businesses will no longer need the back office infrastructure or large teams to support their users, freeing up real estate - potentially cutting their space needs by as much as 30-50%.
  • Now consider that thousands of commercial real estate renters are having this same "aha" moment.¬† Right now.¬† The dynamic will refashion what renters demand from their space, both from a quantity and quality standpoint - as in less quantity, but higher quality.¬† How will the commercial real estate industry respond?
I know how we at Waident are responding.  We're hiring.  And, like many of our clients, we don't really care where those new hires work as long as they get the job done.  This growth in hiring is good for the economy, but it likely won't directly translate to growth for the commercial real estate industry as it has done in the past.
Meet Waident Technology Solutions founder and CEO, John Ahlberg, at NAREIM's Executive Officers Spring 2012 Meeting entitled "2012 A Brave New World for Real Estate Investment Managers" in Miami, Florida, on March 18-20, 2012.  He will be one of three panelists discussing "Technology, Security and the Cloud - What are the opportunities and challenges for technology and real estate?" Learn more about Waident Technology Solutions at www.waident.com or contact John Ahlberg at jahlberg@waident.com
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