Industry executives share the challenges of protecting data while pushing innovation during a panel discussion at ICNY 2020.

The real estate industry is experiencing a second wave of technology innovation that is revolutionizing the way that agents do business and consumers buy and sell homes.

Although the world of tech innovation can be exciting, MoxiWorks CEO York Baur, LionDesk CEO David Anderson, and Keller Williams Head of Corporate Development Jeff Tamaru all acknowledged that tech — especially the concept of open platforms — can confuse agents and brokers looking to build the perfect lineup.

York Baur

“Platform is often the most confused term out there,” Baur told the ICNY Tech Connect crowd with a small chuckle. “For MoxiWorks, we define [the word platform] as an operating system that other apps can work on.”

Open platforms allow agents to access third-party technology applications through a one-stop shop experience. Despite the prevalence of, and demand for, these platforms, Baur said there’s education that needs to be done on how these platforms work, how vendors are chosen, and how data is gathered and protected.

LionDesk CEO David Anderson dove into the challenge that companies like his face in choosing valuable and trustworthy third-party companies to be featured on his platform.

“I think it’s a big challenge,” Anderson said. “You look at all the potential partners you can plug in and you have to make some decisions. You have to make sure they’re working in the best interest of real estate agents.”

Jeff Tamaru

All three men have developed vetting processes of varying difficulty that include examining vendors’ leadership, data and security policies, funding, and profitability. Baur and Tamaru have stricter standards, with Tamaru having a dedicated team that reviews applications from companies that want to plug into the Keller Cloud.

“We do believe it’s our responsibility to vet these technology companies,” Baur said while noting he pays special attention to data and security policies. “We’ve learned to curate.”

On the other hand, Anderson has taken a more relaxed approach in the name of quickening the pace of innovation and allowing smaller companies to build a larger audience.

“Any agent or any broker should be able to use a platform if it’s truly open,” he noted. “From a broker standpoint, they have their stack and they all want it to communicate. They have to log into six things to figure out what the hell is going on with their client, and we want to solve that.”

David Anderson

“I’m a big believer in an open application programming interface (API). We have preferred partners, but if someone wants to use something random, we let them connect with us,” he added. “I think that stifles innovation if you start asking questions.”

Instead of relying on past performance, Anderson said he makes decisions on what vendors stay on the LionDesk platform by focusing on what clients love and use.

At the end of the day, Baur, Anderson and Tamaru said there’s still plenty of education that needs to be done regarding open platforms, especially when it comes to protecting and responsibly sharing data.

“I think the stakes are higher than they’ve ever been,” Baur said. “It’s not about picking winners and losers, but we’re all one data breach from disaster. It’s not our data — it’s the brokerage’s data.”

Email Marian McPherson

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