The real estate industry is evolving - don’t get left in the dust
By York Baur, CEO of MoxiWorks
Platforms are new to our industry and unfortunately, they’re wildly misunderstood. It doesn’t help brokerages realize the intricacies of them when the term “platform” is being thrown around so heavily. Right now it’s the buzzword du jour and many of these “platforms” don’t offer or do what they should. There are five core components that a platform should have and offer, which I’ll explain below.
The reality is, you don’t need a transaction platform or a marketing platform, you need a brokerage platform where all of your tools and services such as transaction management and marketing plugin and exchange data.
The importance of picking a platform that is driven by the right company for your brokerage cannot be ignored because you’re going to have to live with this thing for a long time. If you don’t pick the right one, it’s likely that you’re going to have problems in the future and changing platforms is no walk in the park. It’s like switching from Android to iPhone or vice versa – not a trivial change.
The five core components that the platform needs to have and offer are:
1. Property data
2. Brokerage and agent data
3. Consumer data
4. Integration with the cloud environment with Microsoft and Google
5. An API allowing other companies to integrate
A proper platform has a variety of benefits. The first is that it significantly increases the choices of tools and services that a brokerage has and significantly decreases the amount of effort that the brokerage has to put into configuring, supporting, and managing those tools.
The second benefit is the ability of the real estate software industry to innovate at a much quicker pace given that brokerages don’t have to reinvent the wheel since the platform already provides many of the basic services that applications need.
Types of Platforms
Up until now I’ve explained what a platform is, but not that there are different kinds. There are closed platforms and open platforms, and one has many more benefits than the other. The philosophy of an open platform is that it offers the best tools and services throughout its ecosystem and isn’t limited to the tools and services built in house. Here are some definitions:
Open Platform: Has an open API that allows brokerages to plug and play tools and services from multiple vendors, including multiple vendors per category (such as marketing, transaction management, etc.), as they see fit.
Closed Platform: Brokerages are required to take the tools and services from one vendor and a very short list of partners, limiting choice and flexibility.
Think of an open platform as a power strip that lets you plug and play the tools and services you want, and unplug the ones you choose to exchange for new, better ones. Basically, an open platform allows a brokerage to select all of the best tools out there, have them work together, and can change tools at will – hassle free.
If you remember, the great innovation of Windows was when you were able to switch from an HP to and Epson printer and everything magically worked after installing the new printer driver. You didn’t have to do anything to Word, you just hit the print button. It’s that flexibility and integration that you get when having a platform.
Like Microsoft, we don’t pretend to be amazing at everything. We let our brokerages choose the best tools and services out there for their brokerage and integrate them into our platform; our own flavor of Windows. We want the power to stay in the brokerages' hands, allowing them to curate the tools and services they think are best for their own agents. Every brokerage is unique and because of it, each needs a unique solution.
What’s an Ecosystem?
There are many ways to describe an ecosystem, but for this application within our industry, this is how I choose to explain it:
“An ecosystem is a collection of complimentary applications all working together, sharing data, that make the whole greater than the sum of its parts.”
Any computer you’ve ever used in the modern age has its own ecosystem. Whether it’s that Epson printer you’re using or the many applications you go through in a day like Skype, QuickBooks, or Adobe, everything works together as soon as you install it. If you don’t like an application, you delete it and get another one. It’s as simple as that; that’s plug-and-play.
Here's what a platform's ecosystem should look like:
Why a Brokerage Should Care
If you think that you can ignore or take your sweet time figuring out what a platform is and what it means to your business – think again.
Look what Keller Williams is doing with the Keller Cloud, for example. Should you care about it? Absolutely - we're excited that they're enabling data exchange between their tools to make agents' lives easier. What this means to you is that you’re going to have to provide a compelling answer when one of your agents is considering moving to Keller Williams, or you’re trying to recruit talent from them. It is absolutely pertinent that you have an answer for what your brokerage platform is when retaining and recruiting agents.
While we're fans of the integration the Keller Cloud is creating, it's still not a truly open platform. Why? Because Keller Williams corporate is still deciding which tools and services will be allowed to plug in. An easy way to spot the difference is if it doesn’t have the five characteristics I mentioned above, it’s not an open platform.
The bottom line is, having an open platform and ecosystem of applications that run on it is the key to agent productivity and retention. Traditional brokerages with old school technology are losing agents to brokerages that have not only embraced tech, but have also invested in it. Investing in a platform will allow your brokerage to look to the future without anxiety holding you back, as long as you pick the right one.
Find out more about brokerage platforms and how they work by visiting this page.