The challenge: To build an integrated tech platform that works across all of Realogy’s brands. Chief Technology Officer Dave Gordon says, “Challenge accepted!” as he discusses how to navigate the fragmented real estate tech industry, which trends can be game changing for brokers and his view of the perfect brokerage tech system.
Listen or read the full podcast interview below.
This is Tracey Velt, editor and publisher for REAL Trends. Today we’re speaking with Dave Gordon. He’s the chief technology officer for Realogy. We’re going to speak with him about broker innovation, emerging tech, and some of the trends he’s seeing in the industry. Welcome Dave.
Thanks Tracey. I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you today.
Tell me a little bit about your background. How did you come to Realogy?
I’ve worked in technology my entire career with the last 20 or so years in financial services. I spent over 12 years at Capital One where I worked with Ryan Schneider, Realogy CEO. When Ryan made the move to Realogy, he and I talked at the time about the opportunity that exists in real estate to bring tech and data to the industry and drive substantial change in the industry. With Ryan at the helm at the largest real estate company, I thought it was just a great opportunity to drive tech transformation and really not just at Realogy but hopefully across the industry.
Definitely, especially since the real estate industry is known as not being as up to date as they should be. It’s great that you have such experience to offer. So tell me a little bit [about] Realogy.
I totally agree. It’s been quite an experience to learn the new industry and see what opportunities there are and clearly there are … to inject tech into the industry.
So tell me a little bit about Realogy’s investment into tech and what you’re most excited about.
We’ve got a significant investment and have in technology annually. And I think what’s exciting is the way we’re refocusing that investment in a number of ways. First, we are highly focused in the new framework around product, and we think about product as functions or features or capabilities that serve our agents. So we created an agent journey map that really defines, I call it the life cycle of an agent, but really, all the activities that agents must juggle throughout their day. And we have existing products that span most of those activities. Think of it as the end-to-end activities of an agent. But we’re in the process of upgrading, replacing, some of those tools, some of those products with new and improved technology offerings that are more integrative for the agent, make them easier to use. And we have a whole slew of them in development now. Many of which will start coming out in 2019.
Some examples are a new learning platform for all of our brands in our own brokerage includes things like an integrative performance tracker so agents can see how they’re performing in their job as an agent and actually will recommend training for them to improve their performance using analytics. We’ve got a suite of concierge services rolling out for our own brokerage which is all about creating leverage for our agents so they can drop off requests for work. We have a service that’s built via automation to create marketing materials, mailers, even social interactions that they want. And really take care of a lot of that for them so they can focus on the higher value work around working their network or working with a home buyer or home seller versus doing a lot of administrative work.
And probably one of the more exciting ones is around new work we’re doing in the lead space where we’re introducing new technology into our leads environment. Really help us nurture leads and make them to be more high value leads using AI and really we’re looking for if we have the highest quality leads in the industry for our agents we think we win and we think our agents win, and so that’s a huge focus for us also.
Definitely. And for those who don’t know AI is artificial intelligence.
Yup. So when it comes to technology obviously you’re going through the process right now but you’ve also got some things already going on. So what are some of the lessons learned through the whole process of developing Realogy’s tech platform?
I think we’ve touched on this. The industry really is still pretty fragmented. It’s very local in nature, I think, in terms of the nature of the real estate industry and how it gets managed. And so there’s a lot of technology products in the industry. Some of them are starting to merge and merge as potential bit players. Others probably remain as niche products. And you compare that to other industries that have really moved to head on product adoption and product consolidation. So we see this as an opportunity to look for those opportunities to partner with some of these companies either to bring their products further along into the environment into part of our suite of offerings or also build our own that we think create better offerings than are available in the industry.
It’s a bit of a patchwork process to really piece together great products that are out in the industry already and create strategic partnerships with those folks as well as then building our own. We’ve made some investments in OJO, which is a company that offers artificial intelligence or AI-based lead nurturing. We’ve also invested in Notorized.com which is a leading mobile based notary service and integrating that into our title business. And we’ll have more of those. We have a lot of companies that we’re talking to about what they offer and how it fits into our suite of tools and products that we want to offer for our agents.
That’s great. Sounds like you have a lot going on. A lot of brokerage firms are jumping into the tech world as you probably know from your competition. How do you envision the future of real estate given this trend or really it’s a necessity?
I think what with this shift in this increasing investment in technology and data, I think it signals a leading edge of some form of consolidation in the industry. I think it’s more product and process. The investment technology will actually push forward. I call it the winning products that get built or attract the most business. Really well-deployed technology creates upside; it creates more sales; it reduces costs; it creates efficiency. So it really creates the winning business model. And I think we’re headed in that natural direction in real estate. The many industries have already traveled and I think in the end the goal is to benefit our agents and then consumers and franchisees by as great tech and data products get delivered and get picked up and adopted across the industry will actually create some common usage and common practices more so than we see today.
Yeah. And so what are you most excited about seeing what type of technology or what are you working on that you’re most excited about?
As a category of work, I believe data and analytics are going to change the industry. It’s changed other industries, whether it be financial services and their focus on customer orientation and retail. You can think about Amazon and all their customer insights. I think we got a huge volume of data assets at Realogy that can create value for our company, our franchises, and our agents. This explosion of data in industries creates value. It used to be called big data, now it’s really more referenced to AI or artificial intelligence and machine learning, where the capabilities exist it just process massive amounts of data and find insights, patterns, unique attributes that create value.
We’ve already run a few of these across our new enterprise data platform and have found some really unique, I’d say, potential benefits to our agents in the way we recruit them and the way we work on commissions with them really to make them more successful and more profitable. And the unique thing we found is with the pilots or the projects that we’ve run in this space, the data have to be that make a different. At this point we find we’re in the ballpark of 70% internal to Realogy meaning others can’t, we don’t think can replicate our models. We’re excited about the competitive advantage and just in general with analytics can do with any industry in terms of creating insights.
Yeah. It’s definitely an unexplored world in real estate or basically baby steps into real estate. Let’s talk about the brokerage of the future. In a perfect world what would you like to see from a technology standpoint?
I think it’s easier to describe, obviously more challenging to deliver. As we think about the agents being at the center of what we do, it’s really, I’d describe it as this kind of frictionless mobile-enabled kind of an event based offering that reminds or notifies agents when they need to take action, when they need to track down processes of what’s going on with leads, listings, transaction management or even closings, electronically deposit or transfer money for them, again, the goal here is to really simplify the role of the agent. Not to make it a non-complex activity because there’s huge value they bring. But allow them to focus the time on the highest value activities they perform to build their business and manage their business.
Yeah. Absolutely. So we’ll end with some trends. What are some trends you are seeing related to real estate and technology?
Well I think there’s two I’d probably reference. One is speed. And speed the market for products. We’re deploying all of our new solutions using modern components, Agile, Cloud, open architecture, APIs, really the current technology allows you to move fast and allows you to connect with strategic partners like we talked about. We aren’t all the way there. We aren’t fully transitioned to the delivery pace we want. But we are beginning to move faster. We are deploying these types of technologies really so we can move quickly in the market. We got 200,000 agents in our network and if we can get our product into their hands as quickly as possible they can make use of it, they can give us feedback. We can then iterate on those products and make them better for them. So speeds a real trend that I think we’re going to have to pick up on and we are.
The second is probably a further advancement around analytics, what I like to call and was typically called predictive analytics. And this is actually when you can predict when things will happen before they happen. So this is when if a consumer is ready to buy a home or sell a home but they haven’t actually made the phone call or triggered that openly in the network, so how can you actually anticipate that based on behaviors that you can pick up and monitor through high data capabilities. Other industries found ways to do this and real estate, I think, it’s absolutely possible. Actually within our Coldwell Banker franchise they’re using predictive analytics to create what they call seller leads, which is starting to expose these kinds of capabilities. But it’s early. But if you can identify in the home buyers and the home sellers almost before they identify themselves it allows agents to make those high value contacts and engage with those folks before they start shopping around in the marketplace. So again, another way we make our agents as successful as possible.
Well, Dave, it sounds like you’ve got some great things going on at Realogy, and thank you for joining the REAL Trends podcast today. It was great having you on.
Oh, I appreciate the time, Tracey, and thanks again for the opportunity.