I'd like to advance a hypothesis: Despite all the excitement surrounding social media, the Internet isn't connecting us as much as we think it is. It's largely home to weak, artificial connections, what I call thin relationships.
During the subprime bubble, banks and brokers sold one another bad debt -- debt that couldn't be made good on. Today, "social" media is trading in low-quality connections -- linkages that are unlikely to yield meaningful, lasting relationships.
Call it relationship inflation. Nominally, you have a lot more relationships -- but in reality, few, if any, are actually valuable. Just as currency inflation debases money, so social inflation debases relationships. The very word "relationship" is being cheapened. It used to mean someone you could count on. Today, it means someone you can swap bits with.
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HEN the Sloan Digital Sky Survey started work in 2000, its telescope in New Mexico collected more data in its first few weeks than had been amassed in the entire history of astronomy. Now, a decade later, its archive contains a whopping 140 terabytes of information. A successor, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, due to come on stream in Chile in 2016, will acquire that quantity of data every five days.
Such astronomical amounts of information can be found closer to Earth too. Wal-Mart, a retail giant, handles more than 1m customer transactions every hour, feeding databases estimated at more than 2.5 petabytes--the equivalent of 167 times the books in America's Library of Congress (see article for an explanation of how data are quantified). Facebook, a social-networking website, is home to 40 billion photos. And decoding the human genome involves analysing 3 billion base pairs--which took ten years the first time it was done, in 2003, but can now be achieved in one week.
All these examples tell the same story: that the world contains an unimaginably vast amount of digital information which is getting ever vaster ever more rapidly. This makes it possible to do many things that previously could not be done: spot business trends, prevent diseases, combat crime and so on. Managed well, the data can be used to unlock new sources of economic value, provide fresh insights into science and hold governments to account.
First: happy new year and best wishes for a healthy and prosperous 2010!
Second: 2010 change and opportunity.
I have been traveling extensively the past few weeks. It is always interesting and useful to observe people, their activities and gadgets.
Hands down, iPhone and iPod Touch devices dominated aircraft, airport and holiday scenes. I did see a few blackberries (one family had a company blackberry and several iPhones) and one Droid.
The recent smartphone explosion along with the introduction of useful "tablet" or "slate" devices will continue to change the way in which people use, create and interact with real estate information.
Most importantly, it will change their expectations......
What does this mean for brokers and agents?
## A) MobileVirtual Properties is your trusted technology team - since 1995. Do you have the right people, platform and technology partner for 2010 and beyond?
The "killer app" - from a VP customer - for real estate buyers, sellers and professionals.
Our second major release in 9 months, your branded iPhone app provides essential website functions in a faster, easier to use application. Always on, this "app" can be accessed at home, work, on the go, while working out, dining, traveling - anywhere.
Our software makes sure the app is up to date with the latest property information and technology. It includes property comparison tools and unlimited use mapping services. Stop paying for maps on a per click basis.
Your organization must be in this space.
There will be competing devices, though it is not yet clear who will successfully challenge the iPhone infrastructure.
## B) "Tablet or Slate" computing and real estate
There has been no shortage of hype recently about these new devices. From my perspective, the real change will be to traditional laptop formats. Physical keyboards will certainly be available for some time, but, virtual keyboards (via touchscreens with "multi-touch" gestures) will take over the volume portable device space.
Many real estate firms have published traditional magazines, as a marketing and advertising vehicle.
This conceptual video, by Bonner Mag+ neatly summarizes digital magazine possibilities with emerging devices:
The video reinforces the benefits of high quality, well organized information. Our Main Street single entry cloud software generates timely media and text content for many publications in different formats, including html and pdf. Our clients do not need to add yet another vendor and platform to support these emerging applications.
## C) Your Website
The iPhone app explosion is changing buyer and seller information convenience and access expectations. Does your website address these changing customer desires?
Accelerate your website with our Main Street cloud software's new customer portal tools. From lead generation to transactions and customer for life, Main Street manages your world in real time.
Our global technology and telecom analysts set out to do a deep dive into the rapidly changing mobile Internet market. We wanted to create a data-rich, theme-based framework for thinking about how the market may develop. We intend to expand and edit the framework as the market evolves. A lot has changed since we published "The Internet Report" in 1995 on the web.Key Virtual Properties assets to help you take advantage of the mobile explosion:
We decided to create The Mobile Internet Report largely in PowerPoint and publish it on the web, expecting that bits and pieces of it will be cut / pasted / redistributed and debated / dismissed / lauded. Our goal is to get our thoughts and data into the conversation about what may be the biggest technology trend ever, one that may help make us all more informed in ways that are unique to the web circa 2009, and beyond.
Our key takeaways are:
Material wealth creation / destruction should surpass earlier computing cycles. The mobile Internet cycle, the 5th cycle in 50 years, is just starting. Winners in each cycle often create more market capitalization than in the last. New winners emerge, some incumbents survive - or thrive - while many past winners falter.
The mobile Internet is ramping faster than desktop Internet did, and we believe more users may connect to the Internet via mobile devices than desktop PCs within 5 years.
Five IP-based products / services are growing / converging and providing the underpinnings for dramatic growth in mobile Internet usage - 3G adoption + social networking + video + VoIP + impressive mobile devices.
Apple + Facebook platforms serving to raise the bar for how users connect / communicate - their respective ramps in user and developer engagement may be unprecedented."Apple has a two or three-year lead" according to Katy Huberty, thanks to an installed base of 57 million handsets, 100,000 apps and 200 million iTunes subscribers with credit card numbers on file. (She will keep her eye, however, on Samsung, Nokia (NOK) and Google's (GOOG) Android.)
But much of the presentation was spent showing, in slides culled from research over the past two and a half years, that the iPhone is not like previous mobile devices, and its owners not like ordinary cell phone users.
For example, although iPhone and iPod touch owners represent only 17% of the global smartphone installed base, they account for 65% of the world's mobile Web browsing and 50% of its mobile app usage (see chart below).
- Broker/agent branded iPhone app, Version 2 is now available.
- Fast, sophisticated mobile websites via Main Street CRM.
- Fixed price, Unlimited use mapping services for mobile, crm, iPhone app, routing, proximity search, demographics, map search and social networks.
- Professional still and panoramic photography for mobile devices and traditional computers.
- Real time data transformation for mobile services.
Robert Hahn muses on several topics in a recent post, including the possibility that 2010 may (finally) be the year of enterprise, integrated CRM*.
Now completing our 13th year of creating, supporting, implementing and improving our Main Street enterprise CRM [video] cloud software: from leads to closing and beyond, I thought it time to pass along a few decisive observations that separate the pretenders from those who sit forward in their chair and drive change.
First, any investment will only be successful if the organization hasStep one begins with a conversation to understand your business strategy and see if this proven technology can support those goals.
In that order!!!
- strong, consistent leadership,
- implementation and training staff who are interested in the business and know it from the agent, broker and consumer perspective (and are not interested in simply playing with technology to no avail) and, lastly,
- the right technology team.
Main Street was designed from day one as a cloud computing, enterprise CRM platform for brokers and agents. From lead generation, lead management, agent and broker tools and analytics, marketing assets, VOW, websites, forms, closings/transactions and everything in between, Main Street provides a single entry platform to build your business, today and tomorrow.
Lastly, "build to flip/sell/spin" is one of the many reasons brokerage technology is often an oxymoron. Too many technology schemes are simply built to spin/sell, rather than to solve real business problems. Virtual Properties is a family owned firm established in 1995.
If indeed, 2010 is the year of enterprise, integrated CRM, let's talk: (608) 271-9601 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
* CRM = "Customer Relationship Management". A system that allows you to manage and interact with all aspects of your customer relationships from leads to marketing/farming, CMA, reports, forms, transactions and concierge.
What is a "mashup"? According to this wikipedia entry, "In web development, a mashup is a web page or application that combines data or functionality from two or more external sources to create a new service."
Real estate brokers and agents may wish to take advantage of "free" internet api's (application programming interface). Websites such as flickr, facebook, youtube, yelp and many others offer programatic interfaces to their data and media.
What are the benefits of such API's?
- Aggregate local information around properties for sale or rent.
- Enhance your website "experience".
- Avoid the cost of collecting and managing local information.
- Bad data. Automated information aggregators often lack local expertise. Information may be outdated; a long closed restaurant may still have a review on your website.
- Inappropriate content. I created a Facebook demonstration for a client some time ago. The resulting page included an advertisement for Filipino Girls.
- What motivates the data aggregator? Is their strategy aligned with yours?
- Does the data make your site more generic?
- Competitive stealth advertising on your site. Savvy competitors will figure this out and place their content on your site via the API's.
Your agents have a wealth of local market knowledge. Hire or appoint a "blog-o-spondent" or "blogger-in-chief". This person creates and aggregates your own content (text, audio, video, maps) on your blog, around your website(s) and via appropriate social networks. Over time, agents and staff post directly and incorporate your listings, services and our unlimited use maps (for a fixed price). Create your own platform that emphasizes your brand. This approach improves recruiting, retention and internet marketing in ways that you control and at a much lower cost than traditional advertising.
Main Street reliably supports the tools you need, from blogs, dynamic short links, lead management, surveys and multimedia to market reports and live charting tools.
As always, there is no "free lunch".
When it comes to lawsuits, real estate agents and brokers tangle mostly among themselves. But disgruntled buyers or sellers who believe they've been so wronged that they are willing to spend the time and money to take their realty professionals to court bring a fair number of cases.
The vast majority of transactions go off without a hitch. Moreover, the cases that are adjudicated tend to come down in favor of the defendant.
But if the latest edition of Legal Scan tells us anything, it's that a handful of agents and brokers either don't know the law or don't care to follow it.
Legal Scan is a biennial research report by the National Assn. of Realtors of the legal issues facing its 1 million members. Combining surveys of state real estate commissions and other key people in the business with an analysis of case law and recently enacted statutes, the report identifies potential pitfalls that can ensnare anyone.
Execution starts with when a team or organization forms a shared understanding of the market situation. A start-up's business plan and an established company's strategy are both examples of what I call mental maps, shared models that represent reality and serve to guide action. Mental maps can range from detailed plans in thick binders to a simple insight sketched on a cocktail napkin. Differences in form should not obscure similarity in role-all mental maps represent the environment, highlight important variables, and suggest a way forward.Main Street, a real time internet system for agents, clients and brokers, was designed from day one to be your comprehensive information source. One, real time system is an asset (arguably your most valuable asset) that allows your organization to implement and execute new initiatives faster than brokerages mired in information spaghetti. Related: Both sides now.
Even the best mental map is an imperfect representation. Mental maps can only incorporate current knowledge, and exclude new insights that will only emerge in the future. Maps simplify a complex reality, thereby ignoring potentially important variables and interactions. Competitors will go out of their way to exploit blind spots in any map. We know only one thing about our maps with certainty-they are flawed.
How can leaders update imperfect mental maps as circumstances shift? An important part of the answer lies in collecting the right type of information. Along with my co-author Stefano Turconi, I have been studying the type of data required to map a situation in flux, and identified four critical attributes: The best information is real time, unfiltered, shared, and holistic. My next few posts will discuss each in turn, beginning with real time.
Plunging housing prices combined with historically low interest rates have persuaded 71% of Americans that now is a "good time" to buy a house -- up 18 percentage points from a year ago and the highest level of housing-purchase optimism in four years.Is your business ready? Some firms will address the opportunity by growing costs, while others (fewer, probably) will embrace automation and new services, including ReData.
Related: Recent census relocation data.
So in an industry climate that is ever-changing, what are agents today looking for from their brokerage? Are they looking for quality? Support? Leadership?The Hasson Company is a Virtual Properties customer.