- Former RAPP chief innovation officer Josh Team has joined Keller Williams, with plans to overhaul eEdge.
- The franchisor is partnering with Placester to provide "core plumbing" for tech changes needed.
By the end of 2016, Keller Williams will be beta testing what the company is calling the “next evolution” of its eEdge software platform.
Big words from the franchisor. What exactly do they mean, though?
Well, KW has hired the former chief innovation officer for RAPP, one of the most notable direct marketing companies on the planet, Josh Team. He was named one of Business Insider’s “30 Most Creative People In Advertising Under 30,” and he’s the new chief innovation officer for the franchisor — a brand-new position.
Team has got big plans for eEdge and KW technology as a whole.
“I started a conversation with Chris Heller in early 2015, and we spent months discussing whether there was a partnership to be made,” said Team. “When you look at the industry, I think it’s safe to say that there’s a lot of opportunity still. You look at other industries, and some of the basic blocking and tacking of behavioral analytics and consumer-driven experiences off of data and turning data into insight, which is something that doesn’t seem to be happening at a high level yet, and I think there’s a huge opportunity for the industry as a whole to revisit some of these same behaviors that have been happening for 10, 20, 30 years. I want to be able to say I worked with a team that changed the way people buy and sell homes, and using technology is a core part of that.
“The obvious first step is that we have to have a connected platform,” added Team. “The very first thing we have to do is find opportunities to create value so we have a more connected ecosystem.”
To help facilitate Team’s big plans, KW has partnered with Placester, a real estate website and marketing platform, to develop “a new agent business solution,” according to a company press release.
The “next evolution” of eEdge language feels deliberate, and Team explained a little bit about why. “eEdge pioneered a new all-in-one solution for agents that was relatively new to the space,” he said. “But that was five-plus years ago. In technology years, five years is a long time. We are now at a place and size and scale in our vision that we need to repioneer that space.”
Team was careful to clarify that KW does not believe it’s in the company’s best vision to outsource its technology construction. “We need to build and own a proprietary solution that aligns with the core philosophies that we believe to be true for our agents and their businesses and clients,” he said. “We have a couple of options — we could staff up, hire droves of engineers and become a tech company, but that has its own challenges.
“Another option was to find a partner that allows us to take care of some of the core plumbing needed for real estate technology — integration with the MLS, the website, the marketing tools. We see those as features that agents want today because they need them today, but they don’t solve the critical problem we’re trying to solve, which is that buying and selling a home is very stressful, there’s not a lot of transparency, it’s fragmented, and it’s hard for our agents to add more and more value because the systems they use aren’t integrated down to the human experience.”
So, as Team explains it, KW will be piggybacking on the tools Placester has already put into place — the “core plumbing” — and building something bigger and better than both Placester and eEdge combined.
Last August, KW announced it would be providing Placester to its agents for their agent websites — those are expected to roll out in phases starting in March.
KW Innovation Coalition and KW Labs
Keller Williams is also creating new areas of the business to support Team — the KW Innovation Coalition and KW Labs.
The company described the Innovation Coalition as a means to align “with existing innovative, cross-industry companies … as a means to collaborate and innovate faster to serve shared customers.”
KW Labs “will serve as a space for sharing experimental technology between agents and innovative companies of all types.”
The future of eEdge
Team’s vision for where he wants to take the transaction management tool is exciting — and it’s a vision unique to KW, which has the agent coverage and scale to execute it.
“Right now, portal sites and most data aggregators don’t know about transactions until, at the very best, 30 days after the transaction occurred, and they have very little coverage,” noted Team “One of the opportunities we have, by having so many agents doing so much volume and growing — we have data before the house has even closed. By connecting that data and leveraging that power, we can provide very meaningful data sets well before anyone else is aware of those trends and turn them into insights that will help our agents give more insights to buyers and sellers in real time.”
And scaling tools to meet the specific needs of each KW agent is another part of Team’s vision. “The single agent in Idaho needs a different tool kit than the mega agent team in Manhattan,” he noted. “They need a different set of tools, they need to talk to their consumers differently, and one of the things we’re excited about this new platform is agents will get to ‘a la carte’ their own solution and it won’t be. You can pick your solution using a central infrastructure and it will all be connected on the same data model.”