Disruption is a word that we see commonly in business these days and is usually used when an industry gets disrupted by a new technology. Think of Uber for the taxi industry and AirBNB for the motel industry.

But we see it in low levels all around us. All you have to do is go to the supermarket or Bunnings and see the automatic check outs. Or go to the airport and check yourself in and print your own baggage passes. We used to ring directory to get connected to a number, now we just ask Siri. All these forms of AI (Artificial Intelligence) are here to stay and will continue to make these processes more efficient as customers get used to them, but will also replace jobs that are capable of being replaced easily. Customer service is one of those areas, as it is seen as a low skill area (rightly or wrongly).

In the real estate industry we are not immune to this and there have been many attempts to disrupt our industry. This comes mainly in the form of low cost, low service providers but also in areas of data collection. We used to be the gate keepers of sale prices for example, but not anymore.

If we look at both these areas, they are replacing low skilled agents and easily attainable public information.

In our view, the key to thriving in a world of disruption is to make yourself indispensable. This comes through continually improving your skill level in every aspect of what you do. Think of all the parts of your job and imagine them as a vertical stack. Disruption doesn’t often replace your whole vertical stack, it often replaces parts of it (ie sales data ownership), so as a part gets disrupted, we need to be adding other skills to replace that lost layer to keep ourselves relevant and indispensable. We need to be trusted advisors who are seen to add significant value to each transaction.

This is why we have such a strong commitment to professional development and learning new skills. From the outside real estate practice looks like a reasonably simple job. However, for anyone who has tried it, they soon realise how complex and also how competitive it is. It is why the industry has such a high turnover rate. Those who have low skill levels simply do not last. Technological disruption just speeds this process up.

If you are worried about being a victim of disruption in your work place, improving your skill set to make yourself indispensable is a great way to lower the probability of this happening. You may even enjoy it and that has certainly been our experience.

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