News from the Chicago Chapter

IREM 2016 Fall Conference Offers a Look Into the Future

Posted by [email protected] on 11/17/2016 12:43 pm  



By Jim Vocos, CPM®
IREM Chicago 2016 Executive Council
2017 President-Elect

From Wednesday, October 19, 2016 through Saturday, October 22, 2016, I attended the IREM Fall Conference in San Diego, California.  Our past presidents, our IAE and the rest of the Chicago Chapter #23 governing council members were in attendance. We attended educational and orientation sessions and visited with our Region 9 affiliates.

It goes without saying that IREM does a great job bringing in unique and interesting keynote speakers. When I arrived in sunny San Diego for the Fall Conference, I picked up my welcome packet and read through the program guide.  While flipping through the guide, Mike Walsh’s title, “CEO of Tomorrow” caught my attention.  

October 21, 2016, was the first time I heard of a “futurist.”  Walsh quickly pointed out what I and others must have been thinking. Walsh said, yes, a futurist “sounds like a mind reader or magician.” However, he assured us he cannot and will not read our minds. Instead, Walsh explained a futurist is someone who uses an anthropological approach to find practical approaches for technological transformation.   

So what does this mean for the average property manager or management firm? Walsh explained it could mean the difference between surviving in the coming data age versus falling by the wayside. Walsh pointed out that the new wave of business and business professionals, including property managers and management firms, must have the following characteristics:

  1. Identify the value of data
  2. Predict human behavior
  3. Augment team with the data to win clients

Walsh gave a great example of how the Walt Disney company understands and is implementing these three principles.  Disney made a $1-billion-dollar commitment to digital technology to reduce friction for Disney’s customers.  Disney created the digital arm band and provides one to each guest. 

The Disney arm band not only allow the customer to pay quickly and conveniently throughout the park, but it also provides staff with their customer’s information and park history.  This allows the waiter to know their customer by name, what they ordered, and where they are seated -- all before meeting face to face.  If a child gets lost in the theme park, the staff would be able to know the child’s name, where the child’s parents are in the park, and the parent’s contact information.

While Walsh was discussing Disney’s new technology, I thought of how Disney’s technology could tie into the apartment management industry (among others). The apartment key fab could turn into a digital key wearable. The wearable key could interact with the tenant to remove friction from our tenant’s everyday life.  Disney looks to be on the forefront of the next big shift, providing data driven experiences. 

Mike Walsh provided great insight of a not too distant future. We now have the ability to adapt our business strategies to real time data. Companies who can understand the importance of data, use the data to enhance their customer’s experience, and arm their staff with the appropriate data to win clients; will be the companies of tomorrow.