In case you didn’t notice, the rate of technological change over the last decade is incredibly fast.
It’s affecting the construction and real estate industry, too, with the added pressure to build faster using the most effective technology. Developers, investors, agents and brokers have to anticipate client needs in an environment where architectural styles, space requirements and preferences are not the same as they were, even just a few years ago.
Experts explored this topic to some degree at our Lehigh Valley Business Real Estate & Development Symposium at DeSales University on May 15.
“This is a period of incredible change, and we get to be at the front of it, hopefully on the right side,” said Mike Alderman of Liberty Property Trust, one of the panelists at the event.
With drones, cars that drive themselves, artificial intelligence and robots all increasing at various stages of deployment, all of those elements will change methods of product delivery, transportation and how people work, across all industries.
As Alderman pointed out, if automation were to really take off, it could change buildings very rapidly and could eventually make many buildings obsolete.
As an example, Amazon recently built a robot that can see and grab items off a shelf, he noted.
So imagine all those workers in warehouses that employers could replace with robots that do the same job, much faster.
For now, growing companies still find it easier to justify hiring people. It’s the cheapest, most effective option as opposed to buying all that equipment, Alderman said.
But the future is fast approaching.
Many big box stores are sitting empty, and many more will follow suit. They remain challenging to fill or find new uses for. We originally thought we needed all those aisles and all those departments for the one-stop shopper.
With available land running out for warehouses and other large industrial properties, will they, too, eventually need different uses if demand drops?
It may seem to be a long way off, with the continued massive growth in warehouses and logistics centers, as well as the significant amount of development occurring in our urban areas, mainly with residential and office projects.
But, as I said, the future is approaching faster than ever.