Connect the Speakers: Daniel Morris on the philosophy behind KW Labs

How to build products that make agents more competitive and keep them at the center of the real estate transaction

When you’re building new products for real estate agents, you have to understand both technology development and agent applicationDaniel Morris, the Director of Product at Keller Williams, knows the challenge intimately. His team of technologists helped successfully launched Kelle, the award-winning conversational voice assistant for Keller Williams agent that’s specifically tailored for real estate.

Morris will be explaining the philosophy behind KW Labs and how his experience helped the brand build and launch Kelle for the Keller Williams squad at Inman Connect New York, January 29 through February 1 at the Marriott Marquis Times Square. We caught up with him to talk about what it takes to launch a real estate product and what agents should be focusing on in 2019.

Tell us a little more about your session. How will it address how the industry can embrace the shifting market?

Generally, one of the advantages we have by building our technology directly with our agents is that we have our agents’ best interests at heart; it’s a two-way partnership that happens. In the past if you’re a company that’s sourcing technology and offering it, some of that collaboration happens, but to a much lesser degree compared to what we’re able to do internally building our own product in collaboration with our agents.

With our KW Labs process, the way we think about it is in five phases: ideation, incubation, controlled introduction, limited availability and general availability. It starts with the ideation lab, where ideas coming directly from our agents are validated and iterated on to identify products and services that we should build for them. To date, our process has netted innovative solutions, such as Kelle, our AI-fueled conversational voice assistant, KW Command, our smart CRM plus solution, and many others; these ideas were originally generated by our agents and we ideated with them in that ideation phase, and that’s the foundation for the core features, value proposition and business challenges we’re going to go solve for agents.

Once we’ve ideated, we move into the experience phases, where we take those ideas and, on very tight cycles, we iterate to generate minimum viable products — and this is on the order of weeks, not months or years — to bring these out to small groups of agents, and then we grow it over time. We’re very quickly bringing iterations of high-fidelity mockups and prototypes into usable products.

What do you think are the biggest opportunities to focus on in the real estate industry right now?

I would say that the guiding force that drives where we focus is, all of our efforts are really aimed around building software and solutions that are going to make our agents more competitive and keep them at the center of the real estate transaction. That results in us focusing on many things across the spectrum of the real estate life cycle. Keller Williams is not only focused on the transaction itself; we’re also focused on what happens before and after the real estate transaction and all the pieces that go along with it.

To stay competitive, agents, brokers and companies need to execute quickly. What do you feel are key areas where quick execution can vastly improve the customer experience?

We’re building out from core customer relationship management that’s going to help the agent engage with their client base across the spectrum of the real estate transaction lifecycle, but one of the things we’re doing to differentiate ourselves is rather than only creating a service that allows you to manage your contact database, we’re working on ways to make agents more efficient than that. So we’re enabling our agents through advanced intelligence to tell them who they should contact, when they should contact them and what they should say to them. This ties into some of what we’ve done with Kelle, our AI. And we continue to ask ourselves how can we leverage advanced intelligence more? We’re focused on using machine learning and artificial intelligence to create experiences that truly help our agents be more efficient with their sphere.

What are your hopes for the next 12 months, and what will you be working on?

One of the things that over the next 12 months you’ll see from Keller Williams is increased rapid adoption of a set of services that we haven’t even come public with yet, and you’ll see those all the way into 2019. For my team specifically, a lot of what we’re doing across all of our products and services involves putting a microscope on them to identify where we can add differentiated experiences, leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning. We’re building the Keller Cloud, but it’s more than just a cloud, it’s a smart realty cloud. We’re focused on where we can leverage that to provide delightful experiences, so we’re not just coming out with another piece of general purpose software. These are truly transformational products and services that help our agents.

Discover the opportunities in a changing market at Inman Connect New York, January 29 – February 1. Jumpstart 2019 with tactical takeaways, unlimited networking and thought-provoking speakers. Learn more.

Thinking about bringing your team? You may qualify for special group perks! Contact us to learn more.