Before digital spreadsheets, it would take a bookkeeper an entire day to calculate the impact of changing a single business variable. When VisiCalc appeared on the market in 1979, suddenly people could get those calculations instantly.
That was a huge leap, and it ushered in the spreadsheet era. You might remember using spreadsheets to keep track of clients, deals, and prospects. Fast forward to today: modern CRM systems are making it even easier to use that data, slashing time wasted and giving you a big bump in productivity.
So what’s the next innovation going to bring? Here’s the tech we’re keeping our eyes on, and what it could mean for CRE:
China’s already using face-detection technology for everything from payment authorization to facility access. Right now your CRM gives you all the details you need about a client, right at your fingertips. But could a leap in face-detection tech give you the power to pull up someone’s file at—literally—first sight?
Coffee shops in China are already doing it: their facial recognition systems know who’s walking through the door, and staff greet them by name. Consider the implications of this technology, and imagine a time (soon to come) where you no longer have to even type a name into your CRM to pull up a prospect’s info. It’s the stuff right out of Black Mirror—but not for long.
Drones have already changed how we market properties, and the next big leap is spherical photography. Already, it’s being used to create 360-degree images that give viewers an immersive view of a space, putting them right into a scene and allowing them look around as they would in real life.
Think of how this could enrich your marketing efforts. The ability to give people a 360-degree view of the inside of your warehouse, data center, or office property is already here and getting less expensive each day.
First we thought digital spreadsheets were powerful. Now it’s time for quantum computing, which is about 4-5 years away from being realized. Quantum computers will have the power to crack current encryption technology, solve extremely complex problems, and do things we still haven’t imagined—with unimaginable speed.
Here’s just one possible implication: with machines that can crack the codes that currently guard your privacy (including the data stored in your cloud-based CRM), encryption will have to take a quantum leap forward to keep everyone’s data secure.
Computers are now capable of "learning" things programmers haven’t explicitly taught them. They’re observing the world and teaching themselves what those observations mean—which leads to surprising sparks of insight. Take the example of Deep Patient, a program deployed at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. It has the ability to parse through patient records and make startling predictions about future ailments.
“Without any expert instruction, Deep Patient had discovered patterns hidden in the hospital data that seemed to indicate when people were on the way to a wide range of ailments, including cancer of the liver,” writes Will Knight for the MIT Technology Review. “At the same time, Deep Patient is a bit puzzling. It appears to anticipate the onset of psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia surprisingly well.” Schizophrenia is really difficult to predict, and neither the doctors nor the programmers can say how Deep Patient is able to make these predictions—but it does, and with intriguing accuracy.
So what does this mean for CRE? Imagine a future where deep learning algorithms can uncover the “hidden” connections between your contacts, properties, and deals. Apto already does a great job of surfacing all the relationships related to a deal, for example, but what if could do that on an exponential scale? What if it could “see” which prospects are more likely to lead to deals or which properties will sell more quickly?
One thing’s for sure: the future is coming, and it’s going to bring huge leaps in how we work. Here’s to what’s up ahead.