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PropTech Today - Balancing AI innovation with the human touch

Large language models, machine learning, artificial intelligence, artificial general intelligence, and 'the singularity' change everything, but there again, they change literally nothing. 

I love technology and am an 'innovator/early adopter' in the diffusion of innovation. I use several AI tools daily. Technophile is the term.

While studying at university, say a billion years ago, I came across the concept of "creative destruction" developed by economist Joseph Schumpeter in 1942. This theory suggests that business cycles are influenced by long waves of innovation. When markets go through disruptions, specific industries play a significant role in affecting the economy.                                        


So now, we are in the sixth wave, the wave of Digitisation (AI, IoT, VR, Robots, and Drones) and Clean Tech. Industries that adopt Digitisation and Clean tech will be the winners of tomorrow. This is an exciting point in the world of technology, especially with widely accessible AI and advanced powerful computer models. Open any trade magazine in any industry, and a new AI tool will be coming to market, "improving everything." 

People working in real estate have not missed a trick and are quick to adopt new technology. The data prove it. People who work in our industry are twice as likely to 'definitely agree' that "I am often among the first of my friends to try new technology products and services." That's 14% of us compared to 7% in the rest of the population. 

Take another data point: we are two to five times more likely to have the latest mobile phone model than the average Brit. The iPhone XX, bring it on. 

We have warmly embraced the exciting wave of innovation when it comes to AI. 58% think artificial intelligence is just the next step in evolution, compared to 47% of the population and the 30% in our industry who disagree. 

69% think that in the future, artificial intelligence will help humans in most of their daily tasks (20% in our industry disagree). That said, 80% say we must pay attention so that the development of artificial intelligence doesn't get out of hand (11% disagree), which is higher than the 74% of Brits who think we should pay attention. Enough of us have seen The Terminator.                     

But here's another fact bomb. Regarding understanding the metaverse (remember that), 45% of us think it is the future of interaction, but only 27% think we understand it. And only 23% of the population think it actually is the future. This shows a chasm between adopting new technology, truly understanding it, and the consumer's desire for innovation.

Green Rejectors

A well-known marketing thought leader (and top LinkedIn voice), Tom Goodwin, recently criticised using AI for customer service, angrily posting: "Imagine being so arrogant or sociopathic that you'd use AI to do customer service." 

He argues it shows a lack of respect for customers, as AI often can't handle complex tasks well (and property is complex). This reliance on AI can be frustrating and might make customers feel undervalued. 

He signs off, "As a general rule if you don't think my time is worth employing anyone for, I'll be enraged." 

Also, remember "Clean Tech". A crucial part of the sixth wave. Contrast our love of technology and its adoption with an authentic adoption of sustainability (practices like ESG and CSR), where the consumer, especially the home mover, is far ahead of the industry. 30% of home movers, 25% of landlords and 21% of the population are in the darkest green segment. Only 12% of those in real estate are. 18% of those in real estate are classed as Green Rejectors, compared to just 12% of the population (10% home movers, 14% landlords). Frankly, that's shameful.

We need to remember that technology can make things better or worse. Being too focused on new tech in real estate might turn off customers who prefer more personal service. People generally want quick, accurate answers, but they also genuinely value human interaction. 

As we progress with new incredible technologies like AI and the metaverse, it's important not to lose sight of what really matters to our industry: improving people's lives.

Our goal should be to use technology to support, not replace, human connections. The success of our technological progress will be measured by how well it enhances our human experiences. 


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