The Revolution in How We Work
by Richard M. Betts
Key words: accommodation, appraisal, change, computers, work.
This paper seeks to explore the likely impacts of the new
"information age" upon the real property valuation
Information Access is the Key
The central force in this new era seems to be the rapid decline in
the cost, time and effort of accessing information. Information is
becoming much more widely available, both geographically and
demographically. In turn, greater access to information is reducing
the role of people who process information for others to see, and is
eliminating many jobs.
Consider This a Rolling Change
Overall, the change is large, but its progress is slow and uneven.
It varies by time, by place, by occupation, and by culture. The rate
of change is influenced by how long it takes to develop the product,
adapt it to peopleís needs, and convince people that the benefits
are worth the initial cost and learning effort and time. Because this
change is a rolling change, we can and should look elsewhere, to see
what is coming our way.
Hints of the Future
One clear element is the merging of devices that carry out related
functions, a necessary step as the number of information devices
increases. A second element is the movement toward a closer
relationship or connection between the user and the devices, allowing
devices to be customized to emphasize what the user wants. An
important third trend is the reduction in work where one gathers
information for another to make decisions from; decision-makers
generally now directly obtain more of the information needed. Finally,
as information becomes more available and less expensive, there is
less of a premium to be earned by those who have learned how and where
to find it.
The Need for New Skills
It is a truism that all change hurts someone, and that big changes
hurt more than small. It is also true that people resist change, and
have only a finite tolerance for change. However, people will change,
if and when they are convinced that they need to do so. Even then,
their rate of change will be influenced by many different cultural and
demographic factors. The evidence suggests that the coming changes
will be rather large, and that the benefits to the individual for
adapting to the changes will be rather large. In turn, this means that
those who do manage to adapt earlier will have a considerable
advantage over those who do not.
Impacts on the Workplace
One impact is the emphasis on ideas, on improvement, and on change
itself. A second is the emphasis on efficiency and productivity. A
third impact is the increasing use of technology in all businesses,
and greater expertise of managers with managing technology. In turn,
that leads to the fourth change, the growing technological skills of
the workforce, leading to easier adaption of future new devices or
What then for Valuation?
Computers, automated information processing and other technologies
have already had a substantial effect on people working in valuation.
Nearly every office has changed a number of functions as a result. It
is clear that much more change is to come. The production of appraisal
reports, while usually performed on computers, relies almost
completely on manual input of information. This surely will change,
along with semi-automated preliminary cost, depreciation, and sales
adjustment analyses. Automated data collection and analysis will also
As a result, absent an increase in the numbers of appraisals to be
performed, appraisers will face growing competition from automated
valuation models. The competition will be over quality, on the one
hand, versus cost and speed of delivery on the other. In the short
run, appraisers may tend to move to the two extremes, focusing either
on quality or on cost and speed. But both groups will find it
imperative to automate as rapidly as possible, in order to reduce
costs and improve delivery, even though such action will have the
effect in aggregate of displacing appraisers out of the industry.
Appraisers must also take action to improve both the customerís
perception of appraiser quality and the reality, as it is their only
competitive strength, and one that they must maintain to survive.
Richard M. Betts, MAI, ASA, SRA
1936 University Avenue