Chris Taylor, director at Salloway Property Consultants, discusses the impact of the worldwide web on bricks and mortar.
The internet is here! Okay, that is not the surprise of the century but it is a recurrent theme, it is not going to go away and it is having a profound effect on bricks and mortar.
Technology is changing society at an incredible pace. This is not only affecting the way we do business but also the way we utilise our business premises and, in turn, the view taken on what real estate presents a good investment. Although scenes akin to the 1990s sci-fi fantasy The Matrix have not yet materialised, technology featured in the 2002 blockbuster film Minority Report is with us now.
Interactive tables, Google Glass, mobile phone tracking, touch payment technology and targeted marketing working on complex algorithms to identify an internet user's search activity.
These build virtual profiles about a user's age, gender and preferences in order to inform them about other services or products that might be of interest to them.
This is only one step away from digital advertising screens in shopping centres utilising elements of technology to target customers as they walk past them in the malls.
With the majority of the UK population now owning a smart phone, tablet or both, the desire for convenience with free wifi is becoming a greater demand.
It means that all shopping centres and town centres are either installing or are seriously considering these networks.
Shopping habits are changing with true convenience achieved through completing the weekly shop online and having a delivery to your door at a time slot of your choosing.
What cannot be achieved through technology online however is human interaction and where the owners of retail investments have realised that the whole shopping trip needs to provide a unique experience that cannot be achieved at home, other sectors will follow suit.
Observing the need to evolve the retail experience will protect the value of retail real estate investments .
Likewise, although the technology is improving to allow office workers to operate from home, a central meeting place will always be required, albeit practices have changed with increased hot-desking and cloud-file storage allowing companies to consider downsizing their property requirements.
The knock-on effect of this is the increased requirement for accommodation in data centres and IT support companies.
And if home working is more enabled, increases in values for residential properties with potential for a home office might be expected.
What is clear is that property will continue to be a good investment medium, with continued demand into the foreseeable future.
So long as it has a reliable broadband connection....