Property industry must embrace new technology and emerging markets to elicit ‘talent tsunami’

Future gazing dominated the first day of the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors’ (SIOR) International European Conference in Warsaw. Delegates, speakers and panellists debated industry topics including how emerging sectors within the industrial and real estate markets will fare in the future, and how to tackle the global problem of attracting the best talent.

At the keynote session of the day, Professor of International Economics at the Graduate Institute in Geneva and President of the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) in London, Richard Baldwin, presented on globalisation and the positive effect this will have on business. He explained: “People in general are misthinking globalisation but, if we’re to tackle current issues, it’s really important that we all understand what’s likely to happen in the future.”

Baldwin went on to say that emerging sectors and knowledge should be embraced if we’re to maximise the talents of mankind – wherever they may live – and that the future will be office jobs, not factory jobs. Domestic telecommuting, online freelancing platforms, machine translation and artificial intelligence will all play a vital role in increasing the mobility, productivity and quality of any workforce, while breaking down the global language barrier will result in a “tsunami of talent” for emerging markets within the next decade.

A panel of industrial experts went on to debate the current impact of digitalisation on the sector and their predictions for the future. They agreed that labour and the use of advanced technology will continue to shape and define conversation, and that developers will need to adapt to avoid failure.

In support of ingenuity and bravery within the sector, Mathieu Giguere, Head of Real Estate in CEE for Amazon, said: “We can’t be 100% sure what customers are going to want in five years, but we need to pre-empt it.” He explained that warehouses will need to be flexible and able to facilitate the use of robots within the next 10 years, so investment should focus on adaptable and flexible buildings that “surf the wave” of change.

Martin Polak, Senior Vice President and Regional Head for Prologis, followed by reiterating the importance of making smart decisions when embracing new technologies. He summarised by saying that good locations will remain important, and there are more of them in the CEE region; fittings can be upgraded and replaced, but we should keep [thriving] warehouses where they are.

Renata Osiecka, SIOR Europe President, concluded: “We have brought together some of the biggest names in the industry today to debate and challenge each other on a range of issues. It’s clear that the property market is at a crossroads and we need to pre-empt future challenges, such as the rise of artificial intelligence, our changing workforce and the effect emerging markets will have on the industry. We’ve decided that these developments shouldn’t be seen as challenges – they need to be embraced and will result in more efficient and profitable ways of working. It’s important that we remain flexible and open to new ways of working and living if we are to prosper and thrive for years to come.”

SIOR Warsaw continues Friday 29 June with further panel debates and a keynote speech from the former President of Poland, Lech Wałęsa.