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20 June 2014

Key Takeaways from the Realogy FWD Innovation Summit

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In The Second Machine Age, Erik Brynjofsson and Andrew McAfee provide an intricate argument that the speed of innovation is increasing rapidly. And, while their book does not focus on real estate, last Tuesday’s Realogy FWD Innovation Summit showcasing 15 different tech offerings would have made a great chapter.

I was honored to be on the judges’ panel, seated at the front of a very crowded room, and listening to what our talented semi-finalists had to offer. It was a tough decision to cull our 15 presenters down to the three finalists, Matterport, SendHub and Zumper, and we were glad it was the audience who had to make the most difficult decision – which team would take home the $25,000 grand prize.

In the end, they selected Matterport. Congratulations, again!

Realogy FWD was a terrific and inspiring day, and the consensus in the room was that this year’s crop of companies pushed technology further than last year – and in ways that were even more useful to the real estate business right now.

So what were the key themes of this year’s summit?

  • Mobile, mobile, mobile. The majority of solutions providers were focused on mobile.  From Deductr to GoConnect, from CurbCall to Remotely, the value proposition of their software was to help the agent or real estate professional on the go.It is interesting to note that while mobile was the leading concept, the three finalists, Matterport, SendHub and Zumper, were not purely mobile solutions. As an aside, I was especially excited to see the team from GoConnect, a mobile-only transactions checklist targeted to agents who are not fully using a contact management program. Presenter Zach Schabot now runs Go Realty, part of our Beta Brokerage Project – the BHGRE® program devoted to finding and showcasing innovative, up-and-coming real estate firms.
  • Industry evolution, not disruption. Most of the companies seemed focused on innovations to help the industry market themselves or work with clients more effectively. As a whole, they seemed to believe that working with the industry would be better than trying to disrupt the industry. That is not to say that certain entrants did not think they could disrupt things. Take CO Everywhere, who clearly wanted to disrupt the way we experience location-based analysis.
  • We love great imagery.  Did you know that the human brain processes visuals 60,000X faster than text? That’s what we learned from Househappy (our only female presenters!).As much as things change in innovation, some things stay the same – our love of really great visuals. That said, several entrants, including HouseHappy and Lasso, had a significant focus on compelling pictures and elegant design.

While we were away deliberating, the Realogy team reviewed the day with an energized audience, pondering what all of these advancements mean for the future.

To paraphrase Alex Perriello, president and CEO of Realogy Franchise Group, “If this year’s FWD conference is any indication of the speed of innovation, next year, we will be wearing helmets where we can walk through a property for sale in France!”

We’ll have to wait until next year to see!

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