I suspect very few of you have heard of Wirth’s law. Niklaus Wirth stated in a paper published in 1995 that, “The hope is that the progress in hardware will cure all software ills. However, a critical observer may observe that software manages to outgrow hardware in size and sluggishness.” This has also been called Gate’s Law after Bill Gates and Page’s Law after Larry Page. This is due to what economists call Jevon’s Paradox. This is the idea that as technological progress increases the efficiency with which a resource is used (reducing the amount necessary for any one use), the rate of consumption of that resource rises because of increasing demand. Anyone who has ever moved into a bigger house knows this idea all too well. What at first seemed like “extra” space soon becomes filled with “essential” items.
Even if hardware struggles to keep up with the amount of power needed by software, advances like cloud computing and remote processing have helped us do more with the limited resources of transistors. What hasn’t kept pace with the increasingly demanding load of software, in my opinion, is a human’s ability and time to adopt it.
Brokers have seen the number of technologies that they are being asked to learn increase exponentially. Adding to the frustration is the fact that each category has multiple competitors that are all slightly different. It seems like the time technology saves us gets eaten up by the time it takes to learn about the changes in tech offerings.
At a recent CRE.tech LIVE seminar, Turner Levinson, CEO and co-founder of ComissionTrac, gave a great presentation about a commercial real estate broker’s “tech stack” to help make sense of all of the software choices out there.
A lot of the new technology for brokers is marketing focused. This includes platforms specialized for commercial real estate like Buildout or LoopNet. It also includes general marketing automation tools like MailChimp for email marketing, WordPress for websites and Marketo to automate the whole process.
Then there is social media. Real estate was one of the first industries to pioneer the idea of personal branding. Now, it seems like everyone, in business or not, is trying to sell themselves as an influencer. To fight through the noise it is not good enough for agents to have Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat accounts, they have to regularly post and engage with them as well.
The term CRM has become so commonplace that I find at times I have to remind myself what it stands for. Customer relationship management; sounds straightforward enough, but when you get into it there is a lot of room for variation. Who is the customer? What is your relationship with them? What is the best way to manage it?
Due to the vastly different answers to these questions, there are quite a few options for software to help manage your real estate contacts. Here is what Turner thinks are some of the key things that each of the most popular platforms has to offer:
This category also has a lot of non-real estate focused options like Quickbooks or Excel. Now, there are a lot more specific options becoming available like BrokerSumo and Turner’s company ComissionTrac. There will certainly be quite a bit of innovation and integration on this side of the deal. As any broker knows, getting paid after closing is sometimes harder than it should be. This is even more true when working for a team or under a brokerage that offers structured incentives. Luckily, there are more options now than ever to make sure that the deal is being tracked and that you will get paid what you deserve.
The amount of software that is available today for a broker is vast and only set to increase. The accelerating speed and sophistication of our devices is being match by the amount and complexity of the software that we use. Once every aspect of the a broker’s business has a corresponding program, the next advancement we will likely see is integration. This has already happened in each category. CRMs are helping you keep all of your communications in one place, marketing software has brought all of your outreach methods together. Now, we will see which company is the best at combining categories to shorten the tech stack and free up the time needed to learn and navigate multiple programs. The one resource that no amount of innovation can change is how many hours are in a day.