Notes and slides from a recent mobile strategy talk:

Chart 1

Good morning, ladies & gentlemen. Today, I want to talk with you about opportunities.

How do I, a broker, seize the opportunities in front of me. In this case “mobile”; today and tomorrow?

I submit that job one is to consider if the new new thing, or the shiny object, supports our larger strategy (Chart 1)? Or does it add complexity and simply increase the size of our mess?

Chart 2

I have a real blessing. That is the opportunity to travel and talk with real estate firms. I often compare websites and if they have them, apps. In this example (Chart 2), I compare the number of choices a customer faces when visiting the broker’s home page. I’ve run this on the Real Trends 500 a few times. The winner, or I suppose, loser has 664 links or actions on their home page. 664. Let’s pause to consider just how this happens. The website, in this case, is created for machines, not humans. SEO. Yesterday’s game (I can’t resist: those of you still playing that game might want to see what is happening to google’s per click revenue and a 2nd data point: The App Store, is now about half the size of google, and it grew 34% last year. It alone would rank at number 130 in the Fortune 500). How does 664 happen? We keep adding to the pile.

The thin bar on the far right, well, that’s our 5th generation native iPhone, iPad and Google Play app. Think about your agents and clients. How much complexity do they face, compared to the apps they use every day? And those apps people use everyday, do they require web style menus first? No.

Chart 3

More complexity

How many systems must your agents login to to do their job? I’ve observed a number of firms over the past year, this chart (Chart 3) includes 6. What are the odds of adoption, efficiency? How can you possibly train and support so many systems? 22, 16, 13, 11. It’s easy to write a check if you have the money. Strategy, training and implementation are hard. But that is the only way to build long term value. I’m reminded of a large franchise that offered certain agents a new iPad last year as a recruiting chotchke. Of course, this firm has no software that runs on the iPad.

Over my 18 years working with real estate technology, I’ve seen brokers fall into two camps: those who check the box and add to the pile and those who view technology as an essential part of their business strategy.

Chart 4

The last two charts illustrated the choices we face when considering mobile opportunities. Let’s turn to the upside.

This chart (Chart 4) reveals a mid size client’s public app monthly usage over the past four years. Usage. Real data.

Why might app usage grow so quickly?

Let’s think about the most popular apps. First, they are real. Second, they provide immediate information, not a bunch of menus. Facebook tried to wrap a website into an app and it failed. They have now written all of their apps natively for speed and user experience reasons. Yet, several real estate firms have adopted that strategy, wrapping websites into apps. What does that mean?

Chart 5

It means that you end with with a slow and unusual user experience.

Three real estate apps. One makes you visit a web page, another, makes the user wait every time it starts and a third provides immediate information. These examples (Chart 5) illustrate the choice: optimize the past or create for the new.

Why cling to the past?

Chart 6

It’s because so much software was written during the PC era, which has come to a close. This chart (Chart 6) tells the story. ‘

We like to skate to where the puck is going. A few data points to consider:

  1. Microsoft’s share of connected computers, 2009 to 2013. Most software, including a number of mobile real estate schemes, are written for the old era. The era of mice, clicks and big, power hungry computers.

  2. Americans used smartphones more than PC’s in December, 2013
    iPhone and iPad outsold Windows in 2012. Google Play did the same. User expectations and behavior are changing fast. Weight Watchers stock dropped 25% two weeks ago. Why? Competition from diet apps. Health related apps are the next big frontier. Successful apps just work through a combination of speed and smart clouds services.

  3. Apple’s Cloud revenues are what % of google’s annual income? 50%; 34% y/y growth. That business would rank 130 in the Fortune 500. That’s called an eco system.
    Why are the giants battling over app ecosystems? Nielsen reported last week that smartphone owners spend 86% of their time using apps vs 14% on the mobile web.

In closing, I would like to share a few broker eco-system opportunities. I remember working with a client in the late 1990’s. We had just implemented our cloud based advertising automation tools. Ad office admin suddenly had 8.5 hours of time to do other things. The old, complex way required 9 hours per week. The new, cloud automation needed only 30 minutes. More time was available for agent training, marketing plans, help agents with their clients, create contact plans & campaigns, work on the newsletter or write a blog post.

Apps are changing everything, from Fortune 500 companies to individuals. This means that your agents, buyers, sellers and managers expectations are changing and, likely already have.

Consider the jobs to be done within your organization, from lead management, to staying in touch with contacts, creating, sharing and signing documents, managing showings, the CMA, buyer presentations to core service marketing.

How simple is it for agents to incorporate your mortgage, title and insurance partners into their documents, cma, leads, closing and customer for life programs?

Before adding to your technology pile, consider the importance, cost and relevance of current practices and tools.