Recent developments have cemented the fact that a mobile-first” strategy for real estate is a business edict — not an option. Mobile-first is effectively the mobile experience from a brokerage or agent’s primary website.
It’s the mobile Web part. Many more potential clients will engage with a company’s mobile site than will ever engage on a company’s (stand-alone) mobile app. It’s time to fix the obvious shortcoming of most brokerage’s mobile strategies: mobile sites without GPS, map search, school or community info and multimedia tours.
Once a focus is placed on a company’s mobile Web interface, there will be a realization that real estate professionals want to use this mobile interface to administrate all of their tools from their smartphone. Not just consumer search, but everything that an agent interfaces with on a daily basis (tours, leads, on-demand print tools, social media and so on).
The multiple platform and vendor administration will not be handled well by single-purpose mobile applications. Mobile app enhancements will require end user updates on their smartphone. They’ll have to do that fairly often and with multiple vendors, which will end up as a failure point for agents.
The mobile Web, however, is perfectly suited for this purpose, specifically using SSO (single sign on) between different vendors — all on a mobile platform. Upgrades and enhancements on mobile web interfaces can be added instantaneously to the code. No application update required.
Now that the mobile-first strategy has won the front-end consumer experience, the next big thing clearly will be mobile admin.
What is mobile admin?
Its name says it all: Being able to administer systems and networks from any mobile device.
Mobile admin delivers the ability to monitor, manage, troubleshoot and fix systems and networks from anywhere at anytime with any vendor — all from a smartphone or tablet.
Mobile admin will be huge for every industry, not just real estate, because its implications are vast and the benefits are immediate. There is also an incredible pent-up demand for mobile admin that lies beneath the rocket-like growth in mobile device use.
Today, real estate professionals are forced to use multiple devices to manage the tools of their business. They have to jump off their mobile devices and access to their desktop to manage different systems and networks.
This is not only an incredible waste of agent productivity, it’s also expensive for everyone in the value chain of the real estate business.
Let’s be clear: Mobile admin is not just for geeks — it’s going to be for everyone.
How mobile admin will impact real estate
The real estate technology ecosystem has almost universally been built for a desktop world. Real estate has a multitude of legacy vendors with systems that are difficult to change without significant reinvestment in rebuilding current platforms almost from the ground up — or worse, starting over.
Starting over, for most firms, is simply too cost-prohibitive. Choose your vendors well. Those that already have invested in mobile administration are already ahead of the pack.
All of this means that a large amount of research and development dollars will flow into mobile admin tools. Real estate technology businesses and brokerage firms that manage their own technology systems and make this investment are going to leapfrog their competitors who do not.
New startups that aren’t burdened by legacy software code and systems, will adopt mobile admin faster. They will start shifting dollars from their venture-capital piggy banks to mobile admin once they figure out that it can give them a huge competitive advantage.
But the biggest impact for real estate won’t solely be a shift in the dollars and resources needed to build mobile admin capabilities into its technology ecosystem. Mobile admin will also foster a remarkable boost in productivity.
Technologists and brokers will benefit, as will agents, as they stop having to trek back to the office or their house to complete an admin task or fix something on a desktop.
Think about the amount of collective time that will be saved by mobile admin — time much better spent working on servicing clients, showing properties and closing real estate transactions.
In practical terms, think about what you can’t do on your mobile phone today. Can you access your payroll system? Create a listing post? Can you administrate your virtual tours from an agent mobile site? Can you add new agents to your contact relationship management? Can you even navigate through your intranet with the same features you get on a desktop?
For most brokers, few of these tasks are possible on a mobile device. With mobile admin, everything you have to use a desktop for today, you will be able to do on a tablet or a smartphone soon.
The big hurdle for mobile admin
Mobile admin is hard. That’s one of the biggest reasons that it won’t likely enjoy the kind of rapid adoption that front-end mobile search has experienced. The consumer mobile interface is easy to build. Back-end controls on a mobile device are not.
The future winners will be real estate companies and their vendors who get them to a mobile admin platform first.
Randall Standard is CEO of VoicePad and a 20+ year veteran of the mobile phone industry.