Intelligence is not Artificial

Intelligence is not Artificial Article images

I’ve always liked technology. I spent over a decade traveling to Silicon Valley to work with high-growth technology companies. I continue to read about it. I spend plenty on it for my family’s education, convenience, and entertainment. I invest in and apply it consistently in my business.

I am truly in awe of a surgeon’s ability to use technology to perform medical miracles and of the scientists who apply technology to explore the cosmos revealing galaxies beyond galaxies in high definition. That said, I’ve also been known to say words I shouldn’t when technology has failed prior to an important client deadline or — heaven forbid – overtime of a big game.

Although I’m highly interested in the next generation of technology, I don’t really care for the term “Artificial Intelligence (AI).” Seems like an oxymoron. When it comes to intelligence, you either have it or you don’t.

A major issue facing organizations today is not if, but how, AI will affect their future. That’s certainly the question when it comes to my own company’s business – commercial real estate consulting.

At Rubicon, we’ve already seen the effect AI is having on real estate services firms when it comes to locating properties for banking clients. Brokers today can easily input an array of search criteria and be presented with candidate locations for headquarters, branches, and call centers. Nothing to it.

They then present these findings to clients – impressing them (they think) with the fact that they used “AI” to create their reports – and then hopefully move on quickly to the step they care about most … the transaction commission.

This isn’t intelligence, it’s just artificial. And a short cut.

At Rubicon, we use AI as a strategic tool to assist our clients. But our proprietary research platform – Rubicon Reveal – does not simply crunch data and spit out summary solutions. Rather, it provides a window into the future – with granular specificity – that allows us to engage in critical two-way dialogue with our clients. The kind of dialogue that leads to real intelligence and well-informed decisions.

We also provide another level of intelligence that Artificial Intelligence systems don’t deliver. That is, the ability to uncover candidate property solutions that are hiding in plain sight.

Case-in-point: In concert with a regional credit union client, we recently determined that a certain Midwest market would be well-suited for a future branch. Unfortunately – either from a square footage or cost standpoint – no feasible properties appeared available upon review of typical listing databases.

But rather than accept this premise, we drew upon the power of Rubicon Reveal to locate un-listed properties that might potentially meet our client’s needs – even though they were not currently available for lease or purchase. In short, these properties and their owners were invisible to the brokerage community.

And our approach worked.

Drawing upon unique title search databases, boots-on-the-ground leg work and diplomatic outreach, we located two property owners interested in selling. One owned a small retail space, the other owned an adjacent but un-developed parcel. Together, this location could be developed to serve our client’s members-of-the-future.

Using information not available to most brokers, we were able to pierce through the typical opaque barriers of ownership information that allowed us to make professionally appropriate contact with the respective owners. The deals were made and the rest, as they say, is history: A win for the sellers and our client alike.

On their own accord, AI systems would not have uncovered this opportunity hiding in plain sight. And AI would not have crafted the communications, pricing and timing strategies necessary to negotiate and manage this unconventional transaction. In other words … the human connection.

My point in sharing this real-world example is that information without insight is data. Tactics without strategy is busy work. Communication without understanding is noise.

Artificial Intelligence is astonishing and will continue to advance in both breadth and accuracy. But for now, be wary of brokers bearing AI gifts.

Corey A. Waite is a leading commercial real estate advisor to the financial services industry. As Founder and CEO of Rubicon Concierge Real Estate Services, Corey works directly with senior executives coast-to-coast to deliver strategic plans and transactional services focused on optimizing the needs of employees, clients and members.

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