Autonomous Cars Mean CRE Opportunities

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REAL ESTATE
Autonomous Cars Mean Opportunities for CRE Investors
Driverless cars may impact parking structures across North America.

It’s an issue many in the industry have been debating since 2015, when totally autonomous vehicles were tested on public roads in several US states. Now legislation around driverless cars exists widely across North America and Europe.

In a short few years, the self-driving car has come a long way, and new technology – including self-parking – is increasing by leaps and bounds. As a recent article in Road & Track says: “Within the next two to five years, experts believe these technologies will begin to alter what drivers need from a parking garage.”

For one thing, driverless car occupants may no longer have to park. Their vehicles will drop them at their destinations. But then, where do cars go until the return trip?

Actually, just about anywhere. This means high-cost structures in major urban areas may not be needed; an autonomous auto can park itself in lower-cost areas outside the core.

Parking spaces also may be smaller (some say as small as 6.5 ft./1.98 m wide, compared to the current 9 ft./2.74 m). And, notes Road & Track, “Squeezing vehicles into tighter spaces … saves millions in costs for builders, home buyers, and consumers alike.” Testing indicates a garage for self-parking vehicles could reduce the space required by up to 62%.

The upshot, according to the article: existing garages will likely need upgrading, and new structures will be “rethought from the ground up.” Obviously, this will be game-changing. And for real estate investors in particular, the opportunities are very real.


TECHNOLOGY
Speech to Computer Interface: Are “Robo-Butlers” Our Future?
Robot Butler

Computer-dictating systems have been around for years, but until recently they were notoriously – and often laughably – inaccurate, imprecise, and prone to errors.

These days more people are interacting with technology using the spoken word. The newest generation of voice-enabled devices makes dictating memos, e-mails, and text messages reliable enough to be practical, and voice assistants, such as Apple’s Siri, are available on most smartphones. Voice-driven apps can control smart appliances, furnish directions, answer questions, and give instructions.

But voice is not ready to replace other forms of computer interface (i.e., keyboards and touchscreens), at least not for a while.

“Deep learning” is the technology that enables voice recognition software to recognize and decipher human speech. It “teaches” computers to identify and interpret human speech using complex algorithms. Using deep learning, machines are now able to transcribe more accurately, and sound more natural, less robotic.

However, despite their deep-learning algorithms, computers can’t carry on coherent conversations. They mostly can’t comprehend the nuances of languages or the context in which words are spoken, and usually only respond to simple, one-off voice commands.

Mark Zuckerberg’s “robo-butler,” Jarvis, may be as close as we now get to a bot that can interpret and respond to human speech; but according to his Facebook post, even Zuckerberg himself currently prefers texting Jarvis to giving it voice commands.

Still, in many situations, speaking would be more convenient, safer, and natural than other means of communication. You can talk while driving, working out, jogging, shopping, or doing chores. As well, voice interface is already extending the power of computing to people who are unable, for whatever reason, to use screens and keyboards.

It’s just not quite ready for prime time. Yet.


HOT BIZ TRENDS
Making a Difficult Decision? Maybe You Should Sleep on It
Sleeping on job

When you were young, making a difficult decision could be daunting. “Sleep on it,” your mother advised. And it turns out she was right.

In a LinkedIn article, Ryan Holmes, CEO at Hootsuite, writes: “There’s great merit to being a decisive leader and trusting your gut. … However, when it comes to making more complicated, high-impact decisions, it is crucial to take some time out – or to ‘sleep on it.'”

Referring to research by neuroscience professor Justin Davis, Holmes reports that our brains have two systems for decision making.

The first is useful for quick decisions and is often based on gut feelings. And while it works well for less important decisions, it can blind us to the facts or, worse yet, to our personal biases.

The second, says Holmes, is a “slower system – a ‘higher order’ network that allows us to objectively reason and make rational decisions.”

In New Scientist, Gaia Vince agrees: “Complex decisions are best left to your unconscious mind to work out … and over-thinking a problem could lead to expensive mistakes.”

Vince quotes Dutch social psychologist Ap Dijksterhuis: “At some point in our evolution, we started to make decisions consciously, and we’re not very good at it. We should learn to let our unconscious handle the complicated things.”

Suggests Holmes, “When you’re faced with an especially complicated or consequential decision at work, try not obsessing on it … instead, let it ‘spin’ in the back of your mind for a while.”

Big decision? Resist your gut reaction and take a breather. Why not sleep on it?


REAL ESTATE
The Cost of Cyber Crime Isn’t Just Financial…
The CRE industry is safe from cyber attacks. Isn’t it?

Sadly, no. Because no one is safe. It’s likely there isn’t a sector of the economy that hasn’t had a hacking incident over the past few years. And while the financial cost is staggering, the cost to companies’ reputations, and the backlash from furious customers/clients, may well be worse.

Juniper Research, a digital research organization, has pegged the cost of data breaches at $2.1 trillion globally by 2019 – roughly four times the cost of breaches in 2015, as noted in a Forbes article.

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, there were 7,010 breaches across five sectors from 2005 to 2017, including general business and financial institutions. Over the years, hackers have penetrated giants such as Walmart and Target, and recently, a high-end Austrian hotel paid a ransom to thieves who had targeted the hotel’s key entry system.

Meanwhile, the CRE industry, initially slow to embrace technology, is now comfortably using cloud and mobile tech for everything from managing security to communicating with various audiences via social media.

But technology is a double-edged sword: in making operations more efficient and effective, it also introduces a level of risk that was virtually nonexistent in the past.

For example, a study by Keepers and the Ponemon Institute found that over 50% of small and medium-size businesses interviewed had been breached. The study, titled “The 2016 State of SMB Cybersecurity,” also found that only 14% of companies interviewed felt they were adequately protected from cyber attacks. That’s 86% that aren’t comfortable with their defenses. And the costs to each business, in terms of assets lost and reputation building after the attack, is roughly $2 million.

Unfortunately, we’re making hacking too easy. According to Experian’s Data Breach Industry Forecast for 2017, the number one problem is password breaches. Most employees seldom change their passwords (some 60% of SMB employees interviewed for the Keepers’ study used the same password for everything); nor do customers. And this is a problem.

As Experian noted, attackers resell passwords on the dark web, and since many people use the same passwords for all online interactions, companies that weren’t targeted in the original attack may be attacked sometime down the road.

Fighting back is expensive: global spending on cyber insurance and security technology to fight cyber crime exceeded $80 billion in 2016. But it’s necessary: a cyber security plan, including both technology and insurance, may be the best investment you’ve ever made.

As passwords just aren’t cutting it, many businesses are seeking new approaches to authentication. And encryption technology is becoming increasingly sophisticated (and expensive), developing ways to prevent thieves from turning data breaches into cash, thus eliminating the motivation.

Cyber liability insurance (beyond general business owners’ policies) covers risks such as data loss and interruption of business, as well as identity theft and hack-for-ransom activities.

But most importantly, such policies also cover the cost of rebuilding a firm’s reputation after a cyber attack. Because this is where it will hurt the most.

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Worth Reading
Work. Walk Five Minutes. Work
By Gretchen Reynolds
The New York Times

Walk for just five minutes an hour and you’ll elevate your mood, and, for those of us tempted by the muffins at the coffee shop around the corner, even curb your hunger. A recent study suggests that short interludes of activity spaced throughout the day may be a simple, practical, effective way to improve employees’ health and well-being without diminishing productivity.

What You Need to Stand Out in a Noisy World
By Dorie Clark

Harvard Business Review

How can you make your ideas stand out among the noise? Simple. You need social proof (for credibility), content (to define yourself as an expert), and networking (to generate as well as disseminate ideas). Says Clark, without at least two of these, it’s almost impossible for your message to break through.

Successful People Use These Techniques to Speak Up for Themselves – and Stay Likable
By Adam Galinsky

Quartz.com

This “lightly edited” Ted Talk highlights the importance of speaking up and helps the mild-mannered among us to get there. Whether you’re relaying a difficult truth, expressing an unpopular viewpoint, or advocating for your own interests, you can push yourself out of your comfort zone and speak up. Galinsky can help.


LINKS YOU CAN USE
This Month: Essential Technology
No business can survive in today’s digital market without using some of the many essential technological tools of the trade. The secret is knowing which tech tools are essential and which are passing fads. Following are helpful guidelines on the use of technology to help build your business:

Here’s how to transform your business model to be a leader in the digital age:
7 Essential Steps For Digital Transformation

What technology should you incorporate into your small business?

Here are nine tech categories that are key when spending your tech dollar:
Checklist of Essential Small Business Technology in 2017

Which technologies are the best? These eight have risen to the top:
What are the eight essential emerging technologies for business?

Where is technology trending?
Five emerging technology trends essential to business success

Find your essential tech tools for start-ups here:
4 Essential Tech Tools for Startups

This newsletter and any information contained herein are intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial or medical advice. The publisher takes great efforts to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this newsletter. However, we will not be responsible at any time for any errors or omissions or any damages, howsoever caused, that result from its use. Seek competent professional advice and/or legal counsel with respect to any matter discussed or published in this newsletter.
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