Here is the typical four-point checklist for technology platform announcements by real estate companies, which seem to be a dime a dozen these days.
- The platform is in the cloud.
- It is integrated with a single sign-on for users.
- We offer a great user experience.
- Manages leads efficiently.
Keller Williams (KW) executives today in Las Vegas insisted that its new solution, Keller Cloud, is more than a fancy press release but instead was wired by world-class UX (user experience) designers and software developers and reportedly tested with more than 6,000 agents.
The promise: “a single platform to run your entire business,” said KW Co-CEO Chris Heller.
The new product was rolled out today, with the first version focused on agent tools and systems. A consumer-interfacing version will be released this summer.
Keller Williams appears to be making technology investment its highest company priority. Today, it amended its business model from selling “coaching and training services” to peddling “coaching, training and technology” to its agents.
Also, it reshuffled its executive suite consistent with the new emphasis.
John Davis is moving from president to being co-CEO with co-CEO Heller.
According to a company announcement, “Davis will remain focused on growing Keller Williams market share and driving predictable and systematic growth of our local offices and the businesses of our 150,000+ associates.
“As Co-CEO, Heller will continue driving the transformation of Keller Williams into a technology company that delivers the platform that agents and their customers prefer.”
Somewhat like the legendary Microsoft team of Steve Ballmer (sales and growth) and Bill Gates (systems and software), Davis is the crazed-energy, sweating-at-the-brow growth maven while Heller is the soft-spoken, inquisitive tech dealmaker.
Franchisor, tech driver: A hybrid?
Is this an attempt to completely transform the mega-franchise into a technology company? Not entirely, but the company is making a major shift in this direction. The proof is in adoption and the jury is still out.
The company is definitely becoming less dependent on other technology companies and solutions and building in its own proprietary platform that doesn’t shun its technology vendors but forces them to integrate with the new Keller Cloud, which is now controlled internally.
“Smart real estate companies are bringing their technology in-house, so they have more control over their tech destiny,” said real estate consultant Steve Murray, who says other companies are moving in the same direction.
For example, Realogy’s Zap solution offers an internal platform solution for big brands like Coldwell Banker, Century 21, ERA and Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate.
New vendors were also announced today at the KW gathering, like Facebook, which allows agents to order and serve FB ads. And companies such as dotloop hung on through the transition, building to the new KW platform.
New partners include chat bot developer Ojo and bookkeeping and accounting software company ProfitDash.
The vision is to offer the tools, data and services that give agents an end-to-end solution for generating business and closing business all in one place.
“World-class technology companies do not outsource their technology roadmap or their vision,” said KW chief innovation officer Josh Team. “It’s imperative that we control our destiny, and that we create the real estate platform that agents and consumers choose to use.”
He said the company is “no longer renting solutions but owning them” and “no more silos.”
Much like the Uber driver dashboard, agents can now manage their entire business from one dashboard, the Keller Cloud, promises the company.
Meet Kelle and the Keller Cloud
Here is a summary of the Keller Cloud feature set, according to Team.
“We’ve worked with Facebook, Google, MLSs, and connected all of our production data and other products (mobile, web, etc.) into one, simple, solution.
“Kelle is our artificial intelligence program. Think Siri to Apple. Alexa to Amazon. Kelle will be voice controlled, and be your virtual assistant across our entire Keller Cloud. And Kelle will work with Ojo to give every agent a 24/7 smart assistant for their consumers.”
KWCommand, a data driven solution, “can suggest what you need to do today, and the intelligence it has by analyzing your inbox, your calendar, your database, and your market. Powered by the largest and smartest real estate on the planet.”
Finally the company “has a built in referral network to give every agent 100 percent visibility into the referrals they send. All the way to close.”
The company promises is to “simplify the day-to-day experience agents have running their business, from generating leads, through managing transactions to home ownership.”
KW sensed a problem with its agents who were bombarded with tech solutions that slowed them down, didn’t work or overwhelmed them.
The adoption question
Like most national companies, KW has little or no control over the technology foisted, sold or adopted by its agents.
A rag-tag group of solutions creates a disconnected tech world for most agents, so confusing that many agents resort back to old ways (like spreadsheets) because there is too much to learn and it is often too complicated to integrate.
“Our goal is to dramatically simplify the technology experience agents and their consumers have with Keller Williams, enabling us to create the world’s simplest and most personalized discovery, transaction and ownership experience in residential real estate,” said Jonathan Berkowitz, KW’s chief strategy and product officer.
The company promises to transform the traditional CRM into a customer experience solution for agents and their clients and provide a fully integrated referral solution for KW agents to send, receive and track referrals.
“The whole thing is mind-blowing,” said top producing KW agent Sue Adler. “We will no longer be subject to the whims of vendors, and we have more consumer insight so we can respond better because the system is intuitive.”