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Technology at the Forefront of 2019 IREM Global Summit

October 22, 2019 | John Salustri

The recently wrapped 2019 IREM Global Summit demonstrated the Institute's emphasis on a range of critical issues, from diversity and operational excellence to international outreach. But nowhere was the emphasis greater in San Francisco than on technology, from keynote presentations before the entire attending population to individual breakout sessions.

Realcomm Founder and CEO Jim Young set the stage at the opening General Session, wherein he spelled out the disruptors coming to a property management firm near you. These included such current trends as the move toward space as a service and 5G mobility to the increased use of artificial intelligence, digital twins and the internet of things. 

He also noted that, while most of us are still getting our minds around the concept of “the cloud,” its day is done and new technologies are in the wings ready to replace it. In the midst of this era of tech transition, he noted we also face a growing shortage of technologically skilled professionals. 

On a more grassroots level, Stacey Holden of AppFolio explained in a session on improving employee performance that, "Technology has created new opportunities to maximize employee retention and engagement." And yet, at a session the following day specifically for senior executives of AMO firms, the audience revealed they needed to do more--or more precisely, their software needed to do more--not only in terms of creating a better experience for their staff, but also improving their own productivity and a better occupant experience.

It should be noted that Holden also indicated that 70 percent of workers would not work for a company whose values were not aligned with their own. "Defining your culture is mission-critical," she stated.

Panelists and audience members alike in the AMO session revealed that this culture has to include workable technology, and that a lot of upward pressure was being placed on management to make up-to-date and workable technologies available for the good of their companies.

"Before, it was all about your resident or tenant experience," said panelist Jesse Holland, CPM, president and founder of Sunrise Management & Consulting. "It was about making workflows better so they had a better experience. But younger people are now coming into the workforce, and they expect to do things on their mobile devices. It takes time to make those paradigm shifts because you get locked into a technology. There are a lot of different audiences you now have to care about in addition to the external users: the residents, tenants, and even your vendors."

Happily, it's not all about technology, as author Erik Qualman stated in his keynote presentation on digital leadership.

Yes, privacy is dead, he said. And yes, word of mouth is now on what he called "digital steroids." But, good news for everyone who makes their living based on relationships: "The human connection always comes first," he said.

The Summit concluded on an historic note at the annual inaugural gala, where Cheryl Ann Gray, CPM, became the Institute’s first non-US president. W.A. “Chip” Watts IV, CCIM, CPM, moved up to president-elect, and George D. Griffin, III, CPM, became secretary/treasurer.

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