“That’s the thing about the future. Nobody wants to see it coming.” -James Altucher
Recognizing opportunity and preparing for what’s next is key to success in any industry. A recent podcast from startup expert James Altucher provides a fascinating look at where we are and where we’re going in terms of the development and use of the Internet.
Speaking with AOL cofounder Steve Case, Altucher describes the 3 waves of development presented in Case’s book: The Third Wave: An Entrepreneur’s Vision of the Future (a must read).
The first wave was happening 30 years ago, when activity centered on building the Internet and encouraging awareness of it. When AOL was starting, just 3% of Americans were online, and they spent an average of one hour per week online. The first wave involved creating the networks and systems and educating people about why they should connect.
As that connection became the norm, the 2nd wave took over. This was the development of the many different apps and software products that came into use by millions. In the 2nd wave we saw the rise of social media and online communities. Platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, the app store –all of the new uses that took the Internet by storm and made billions seemingly overnight. This sort of opportunity will continue to exist, but things are set to shift.
According to Case, we are on the brink of the 3rd wave —the future— which requires everyone to adjust their thinking about how to use the Internet and who drives innovation. This will be a time of seamless, ubiquitous integration of the Internet of Everything into all aspects of our lives.
The fact that connected devices play a role in making so many systems operate today is leading to opportunities for innovation, but how it happens will be different in the 3rd wave. Entrepreneurs will continue to lead the way, but they’ll work more closely with industry and government.
Here are some of the realities that Case tells us to expect for the 3rd Wave:
#1: Idea Sharing
Collaboration between startups and big corporations will become more common. The corporations need innovation and fresh ideas, and entrepreneurs need resources and capital. There will have to be a more widespread exchange of ideas between these parties to spark new projects and solutions.
In my opinion, this is starting to emanate in real estate. Not only is idea sharing starting to take form, but adoption is following. We are finally seeing an industry that has lived by the same principles for over 100 years move into the next wave.
#2: Connected Devices
The Internet will impact every aspect of our lives. The connection of devices and sensors to provide data and automate processes means that the Internet is different now. Case mentioned this increasing reliance on the Internet of Things, citing smart cities as an example in which technology informs planning for more efficient mass transit and management of traffic.
To take this to another level, connected devices in real estate will allow owners of properties to service, collaborate, and test new ideas to keep their most prized investment —their tenants. I believe real estate, which has traditionally served as a brick and mortar place where a business can hang it’s hat, can become a data hub. And —if utilized properly— can be an integral part of the business itself.
#3: Essential Partnerships
Innovation will require partnerships between startups and industry. There are opportunities for innovation everywhere –education, healthcare, agriculture, and retail. The difference in the 3rd Wave will be that generalists will make way for experts.
New solutions for healthcare, for example, will have to come with input from doctors and nurses. Tremendous changes are already underway in how we manage chronic health issues like diabetes and how doctors can improve the accuracy of diagnosis.
As an example, Hudson’s Bay (owner of Saks Fifth Avenue and others) recently confirmed a $250 million acquisition of Gilt Groupe, which will allow them to use technology to support brick and mortar in a way that is truly cutting edge for the industry.
The 3rd Wave for Real Estate
It’s interesting to consider how the 3rd Wave will influence the real estate industry. Applications for the industry are developing at a furious rate. In my mind, this third wave is the most important because in B2B technology, unlike consumer technology, the change in behavior is harder and even more essential to navigate. Yet it’s vital that technology is adapted, as it allows and encourages our people —which are the most important asset in business —to thrive.