How Commercial Real Estate Can Avoid Becoming the Next Walmart

In the battle for Internet wallets, Walmart knew they were behind and had to catch up.

  1. A sales meeting gathered around a table with a potential client demonstrating the benefits of a product.
  2. Group strategy meetings with breakout sessions around a table or perhaps sitting in the grass.
  3. And something as simple as listening to a speaker and seeing their body language at the same time you see their slides.
  4. But most of all, sitting and staring at a screen for endless hours as others watch to see if your eyes avert from the content at hand.

Think about how KLM — the Dutch Airline — solved this problem.

So, what is the opportunity for commercial real estate companies?

  • Most commercial real estate will remain in play, just as most brick and mortar retail stores exist today.
  • A small portion of savvy early adopters will begin using digital twin real estate, just like early adopters began using Amazon in the late ‘90’s.
  • Initially, a small marketplace will be created for those seeking to rent digital work space for meetings, conferences, sales and other commercial needs. Over time, this will grow and then hit a hockey stick growth curve.
  • Most large, incumbent commercial real estate companies will ignore the shift to digital twin real estate just as Sears, JC Penney, Kmart and Walmart largely ignored the trend for the first ten years.
  • Nimble startups will begin to gain ground in this new type of real estate — just like Amazon, eBay, and Shopify — creating a lead that is difficult to overcome.
  1. Begin now with an open mind. Some executives are good at anticipating the future, while others understand the past and execute well on those lessons. This moment requires the former.
  2. Because digital twin real estate (the concept of an office space, retail outlet or manufacturing facility recreated in a digital world) can be explored through either a VR headset or a PC, invest in a VR headset and begin exploring.
  3. Make three lists: those things that can be done well on Zoom or Teams, those things that can only be done in physical real estate and those things that can be done well (or better) in digital twin real estate.
  4. Put bright, entrepreneurial minds on the task with broad authority to move quickly and try things. Be sure they understand that they may fail more than they succeed early on. These people may also not have an MBA. Frequently, the attention spans of the most successful entrepreneurs are too short to sit through years of college; but that doesn’t mean they don’t possess great business minds.
  5. The CEO should actively supportive the effort. This is a megatrend that will play out over the next 15 years. It will require perseverance and resources. It will not yield big profits immediately, but ultimately, it will be the path that gives incumbent players an onramp to the future.
  6. Partner with those who know their way around digital twin real estate. The space requires coders, 3D object creators, and people proficient in the management of spatial worlds. There are a handful of qualified companies and platforms, be sure to engage with at least one of them.

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