We live in an imperfect world. The more hands on experience a technologist has, the more they realize this is true. It isn’t surprising then that one of the companies with the most experience implementing real estate technology, Open Box, is also one of the most realistic. Their managing director for North America, Brendan Canny, spoke to this point at a recent Propmodo Live event. He pulls back the rose-tinted, utopian vision that many of us take when talking about adopting new innovations and exposes some of the harsh, real world challenges:
One of the main challenges when it comes to technology integration is getting disparate systems to “talk.” There are ways to for independent software platforms to pass information back and forth, like APIs, but if systems are not designed with APIs or the store data in different forms, it might not be possible to easily connect them. That is why the Open Box team suggests that real estate companies first take an objective look at what process can be easily automated and which ones can’t.
After the hard task of critically evaluating what can and can’t be done is complete, artificial intelligence can then be brought in to “ask like a human” to complete workflows that won’t integrate automatically. Creating or entering info from an Excel spreadsheet is a good example of this. While it sounds nice to live in a world where spreadsheets are replaced with cloud-based forms, the fact of the matter is that most people like their tables and will likely not give them up any time soon.
Another thing to consider is that using a new automated process forces people to change their habits. This can be hard if not impossible to do. Rather than asking people to run unknown software or interface with a new platform, Open Box has created a “person” that can act like a member of the team. They have named this person Rob Spark and he is programmed with a personality and given an email address. That way, instead of having to figure out how to get a program to do data entry from one of my files, I can just email it to Rob and ask him to do it. Any troubleshooting can then be done in the form of a conversation and a new favorite co-worker can be made.
Open Box’s mission is to make AI accessible to everyone. To do this they have gone to great links to make the use of their automation as easy as possible. They recognize that not everything in technology works the way that it should and that people often struggle with change. If real estate companies want to be successful in adopting technologies, they would be smart to come to the same conclusion.