Artificial Intelligence & the Personal Touch: Mutually Exclusive?

Key Takeaways

  • As new digital solutions come along, there is always a bit of tension between balancing the human connection with the digital world.

  • Most people just have a passing understanding of what AI actually is —but the technology presents some amazing possibilities.

  • Experts caution that we must continue to think first of the work to be done, and then of what tool will best aid us.

  • From AI to bots, there will be ways to create a much faster, focused result —but don’t forget the human connection reigns supreme.

Whether you’re new to CRE or a veteran broker, you likely understand the value of personal connection for getting business done. If you’re reasonably competitive in the field, you also appreciate the benefits of technology tools. Certainly the two can go hand in hand, but it seems that when new digital solutions come along, there is always a bit of tension there.

Case in point: Artificial Intelligence. I recently had the experience of dealing with a client’s AI scheduler, which set up an appointment with me. This scheduler had an email address and a name, much like a human assistant, and very efficiently set up the meeting and even sent a follow-up reminder. While I loved the efficiency and the tech-savvy of it all … the experience left me a little cold, to be honest, and thinking about how business will balance AI capabilities with the personal touch.

Do advances in artificial intelligence eliminate human touch?

We’ve been hearing a lot in recent months about advances in artificial intelligence. The technology presents some amazing possibilities and also leaves many of us wondering about potential downsides to its adoption.

Most people have just a passing understanding of what AI actually is. It’s more than self-driving cars, humanoid robots, smart buildings, and voice recognition. Those developments, amazing though they are, would be the equivalent of a grade school course, while AI is a trip to the upper levels of the university. AI takes those capabilities and uses the information gained along the way to develop solutions to the needs and obstacles that arise.

AI devices are able to “learn,” and automatically make adjustments based on the data already gathered. They’re being developed to help us in a tremendous variety of ways, and experts say they’re only getting started. Some say that this technology, combined with the ability of millions of people to connect digitally, is the most important development since the industrial revolution.

The most important development since the industrial revolution—AI.
Tweet: The most important development since the industrial revolution—AI. -@JonSchultz_Onyx #StreetSchultz

While it’s easy to be dazzled by the amazing things that are possible through AI, experts caution that we must continue to think first of the work to be done or the task accomplished, and then of what tool will best aid us. Accenture Technology makes the point:

  • A key is not to become too entranced by any particular technology, as if that technology by itself is the answer.

  • It is vital to think first in terms of types of work, and then consider the business rationale for integrating technologies into a total AI solution related to that work.

  • What happens in terms of the social impact of AI is not up to the technology, but to us. The business opportunity of getting it right is too significant to be left to chance.

We must continue to think first of the work to be done, and then of the tool that will best aid us.
Tweet: We must continue to think first of the work to be done, and then of the tool that will best aid us. - @JonSchultz_Onyx #StreetSchultz

This advice certainly applies to the business of CRE, which has always relied heavily on human relationships and interaction to get the job done. It is important to ponder how best to utilize AI without losing sight of our real objectives. After all, AI will only do what we program it to do; it may be that there are some aspects of business best left to people.

There is so much wasted time spent on searching and finding answers that is completely unnecessary in such a heavily transaction-oriented industry like ours. From AI to bots, there will be ways to create a much faster, focused result —but we are also human, and living in a world where connection is (and will always be) the most important thing. Don’t forget —human connection reigns supreme.