Hardware has never been more powerful or affordable, and software has never been more innovative, plentiful, and easy to acquire. But for real estate professionals, the problem is now one of too much choice—and the costly effects of picking the wrong technology. How do you choose wisely?
Although evaluating technology may seem daunting, it is said that a wise man’s question contains half the answer. Before deciding on a new technology, here are the five big questions tech-savvy leaders ask.
Technology can help you accomplish your business goals, but you need to know what those goals are. Because each and every property and client are different, real estate is an industry that relies on personal interaction. Consequently, your technology should always enhance the people side of your business.
Before going into technology exploration mode, take the time to understand your unique strategy and document your key goals and objectives. For real estate in particular, make sure the solution removes friction in the real estate deal and enhances the peoplework your agents are doing. Then, set clear parameters around budget, time frame, and functionality.
By clearly stating your needs up front, you’ll be able to resist the draw of shiny features and objectively evaluate new technologies so that they support your mission, strategy, and culture. If you are working with a technology partner, make sure that they clearly understand your objectives by asking them to “play back” your goals, in English, with as little technology jargon as possible.
As many IT experts say, “Don’t declare success with launch.” The real measure of success is adoption.
It doesn’t matter if you’re using best-in-class software if only a handful of your team ends up using it. If you are working with a technology partner, ask them about adoption rates and roll-out strategy with previous clients, and make sure that they understand the nuances of the real estate industry.
Although the speed of adoption is an important consideration, keep in mind that the app or platform that best solves your business’ long-term needs may be the one that requires the most training. In the long run, the investment will be worth it.
All technology evolves over time, which means that all software will require “basic hygiene” to remain up to date. When you’re thinking about technology costs, don’t just consider purchasing and deploying, but also what it will require to manage the solution over time. Is maintenance something that you, an admin, or an agent can handle? Or will you need to hire an IT specialist or maintain a close relationship with your technology partner’s account manager?
This is a key component of adoption that you can’t afford to ignore. Simply neglecting to update your technology can leave you and your clients open to serious security threats.
When considering the full cost of technology, it’s important to think of both short-term and long-term expenses. Short-term costs include subscription fees, per-use charges, and “hidden” fees that are buried in the product offering (e.g., an upper limit on the number of e-signatures you can send).
Long-term costs include technology dependency and adaptability. What hardware, programs, and employee are required to keep the system running? Is the technology flexible enough to adapt to other technology you will want to add in the future?
For an accurate cost/benefit assessment, add up all expenses before committing to a technology.
Years ago, the rule of thumb for buying a new car was that you didn’t want to purchase one in its first model year. It simply hadn’t been road-tested enough to reveal any design flaws.
The same wisdom can apply to new technology. After it’s been released, there will always be issues that the development team was unable to foresee. Choosing a product that has been through multiple iterations of industry use gives you the advantage of years of improvements.
Related to product maturity is company maturity and the health of the tech company you’ll be relying on. Especially for matters of compliance, it is important to choose a technology provider that is financially stable enough to continue supporting their product for years to come.