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Tomorrow’s Technology Is Key to Unlocking Today’s Opportunities

Technology & Innovation

A broker's success is often based on finding that balance between old and new, notes SIOR's Robert Thornburgh in this Thought Leadership exclusive.


Written by Les Shaver and Reprinted with Permission From Globe St.

Real estate brokers aren’t immune from technological disruption. But the pandemic made it clear that the old ways had their limitations. A broker’s success, according to Robert Thornburgh, SIOR, is often “based on finding that balance between old and new.” The CEO of the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR) says that brokers need to overcome their resistance to change and be open to what’s occurring around them.

“You must be more than a casual observer here,” says Thornburgh, who has been involved in the commercial real estate industry for more than 25 years. “Those who take a passive attitude towards technology will absolutely see the industry pass them by in a few short years.”

Amid the global pandemic, members of the brokerage community had to be willing to scrutinize some ideas of old. This in turn elevated those groups who were ready to thrive in the new normal.

“The successful leaders in CRE were willing to challenge the norm and alter processes and systems,” Thornburgh says. “I found this to be especially true in the marketing and public relations side. A select group embraced innovation—finding new ways to conduct business, connect with people, and drive high-level content virtually, despite the various challenges.”

When brokers see new types of technology becoming popular, they need to be proactive in adopting these innovations to assist them and the clients they serve. And beyond technology, brokers need to pursue constant growth. Thornburgh says success is about embracing opportunities that stretch people to become better versions of themselves.

“The expectation should be to evolve, where we choose to think in bigger ways and pursue those same aspirations with excellence,” he says.

That doesn’t excuse brokers from not having long-term plans. Thornburgh says being a broker requires planning and strategy to retain existing market share and ensure progression. “In my experience, the biggest mistake is not building that smart, multi-year plan and budget to guide those same future-minded goals,” he says.

As brokers make long-term plans, SIOR provides benefits and resources, including advanced education, online communities and the sharing of best practices. Thornburgh says delivering value back to its members, present and future, is a never-ending process.

“I am confident that by virtue of its innovative approach to real estate, SIOR will advance our industry and be more than able to meet the challenges posed by a rapidly changing world,” Thornburgh says.

Also, Thornburgh says SIOR has a tremendous responsibility to uphold the standard of excellence within the industry. “Giving back to the next generation of real estate professionals is critical,” he says. “We can help bring in a new group of innovators who believe in integrity, hard work and delivering the highest level of service to their clients.”

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The Society of Industrial and Office Realtors® (SIOR) represents the world’s elite in industrial and office brokerage. SIORs are held to the highest standard by completing thorough requirements and adhering to the SIOR Code of Ethics. SIOR is more than a designation, it’s a symbol of excellence. SIORs value the power that comes with building relationships and sharing ideas that are on the leading edge of the industry. They are the most knowledgeable, experienced, ethical, and successful commercial real estate brokerage specialists. For more information, visit