Transformation through Technology

While many are discovering how much they can achieve in the confines of their own home, residential properties have their inherent constraints, i.e. space, ceiling heights, loading, electricity capacity. Other constraints may be the scale of economy of certain services or ownership of equipment. It is still much easier for one to visit an imaging clinic than to purchase and operate a MRI machine at home or have the space and equipment for a soccer game at most home (at least not yet). While the above examples are driven by certain necessities, real estates involving discretionary spending such as retailers and leisure facilities face a much steeper uphill battle.

Some malls understood the attractiveness of online social media platforms, and were able to boost traffic with installations aiming at Instagram users, or rare Pokemon in their premises with correlation with Pokemon Go, the immensely popular AR mobile game. Others have even taken that idea to the full extent, namely the Ice Cream Museum, a source of many viral pictures and videos. Interestingly, these particular businesses require large floor plates and generous ceiling heights in heavy footfall locations, which are the kind of premises that retail tenants are divesting from due to poor profitability despite their marketing potential as flagship stores. Although many of these tech integration were successful, their repeatability is questionable and unable to bridge the online offline chasm exposed by Covid-19. With the onset of 5G technology, there shall be many ways and new directions where real estate can further its connectivity and technological integration. Landlords and tenants alike will need to explore ways to complement the technological trend to ensure commercial real estate will continue to be indispensable.

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