The eve of destruction, the dawn of the future

Kaboom! Everything around you just blew up. Will you survive?

Shrapnel

According to William Gibson, the future is already here. It’s just unevenly distributed.

Gibson believes the future is ever present. It’s spread about in particle form waiting for someone to piece it together. Given the persistent inter-connectivity of people through the giant digital network called the Internet, this piecing together – the work of innovation – now occurs very, very fast.

The shrapnel of progress has obliterated things we believed to be fixed objects. Music. News. Commerce. Services. A century of analog music recorded on tape and sold on vinyl has disappeared into the ether in less than a generation.

We will find no resting place.

This condition is both frightening and beautiful, like a George Romero movie.

Change is terrifying. But you can’t prevent it. So embrace it.

Everything is ripe for…

Displacement

If you sold real estate between 1945 and 1995, your biggest challenges were mastering call waiting, learning how to shove a sheet of paper into a fax machine and leaving a message on voice mail.

Slow, turtle-like change.

Fast-forward 15 years. The social web. Pocket computing. Apps. Ambient connectivity.

Mind boggling stuff.

If you grok William Gibson, you ride these tides. If not, you kick against them, exhausting your energy fighting the inevitable.

There are a riders and fighters in real estate. The fighters still can’t nail a decent Website. Or market themselves effectively in a post-print world. They are drawn to every shiny new piece of cyber garbage. And they revile the riders.

This leads them to…

The eve of destruction

Lets place the puzzle pieces on the table.

Etsy, Taskrabbit, AirBnB, GetAround and Parkatmyhouse are among a raft of new companies upsetting the traditional car rental, vacation rental and flea markets. They connect strangers with strangers and make them comfortable doing business with each other.

Square and BankSimple are lobbing grenades at traditional banking.

Pirq delivers Seattle residents instantly redeemable retail discounts based on their location, effectively torpedoing the direct mail brochure and coupon book in the process.

Zuuvu, Klout and Kred are just the tips of a cultural and commercial iceberg that will make transactions between strangers more reliable.

StreetAdvisor, Nabewise and Everyblock are turning citizens into neighborhood reporters.

Peers communicating directly with peers. No bullshit.

2020 is eight years away. Is it so far-fetched to think that in eight years this tide will rise upon real estate’s shores?

If you believe the consumer will need the 1995 version of real estate brokerage in 2020, forget the Mayan Calendar… by that point your world will have ended.

The dawn of the future 

We believe there will always be a place for real estate professionals, and for the brands and brokers that support their work. But there will be fewer of them. Those that will be rocking in 2020 are piecing together the future right now.

The glimpses of tomorrow – all that crazy stuff I mentioned above – can be platforms you build or leverage. The zombies plodding outside your cabin door need not be terrifying if you walk out to great them. Look at those around you who fight against change, and increase their distance form your working life.

And keep in mind that the future can be more than something that happens to you. It can be something you build.

 

[Disclosure: StreetAdvisor is a 1000watt Consulting client]