At ICNY, connecting big data to disparate systems remains big business, and a big challenge, but attendees were reminded about what’s at the heart of the deal.

From the Westside Ballroom at Inman Connect New York, real estate data professionals took time to share with data-hungry audience to discuss issues and challenges with how to make software solution connect and valuing data within the business.

In the 20-minute Data Track session, “Seamless Technology: Supercharged Tools Through Extra-MLS Data,” Tribus Vice President Katie Ragusa, CTO of MRED Chris Haran, and Vice President and General Manager of Gobal Real Estate Solutions at DocuSign Geoge Gerstenfeld, gave attendees a number of takeaways on how important it is to capture every step of the transaction, from what Gerstenfeld called “lead to deed.”

“We think of data in terms of the transactions and agreements that our customers are doing, whether a small brokerage or enterprise, how do we help you unlock that data to use as insights in your overall business?” Gerstenfled said.

Katie Ragusa, Tribus | AJ Canaria of PlanOMatic / Inside Real Estate

He explained how Keller Williams is using transaction data at the enterprise level and that through DocuSign-collected data, applying a layer of artificial intelligence on top of it to “map in bunch of different vectors such as where the lead was generated, when the transaction closed, how many days on market did it take?”

That data is then turned into actionable CMA analyses within KW’s Command system, letting them know that if a house in this location at this price range, it has an 80 percent probability of selling within a month.

Moderator Sam DeBord, CEO of RESO, brought up the topic of uncooperative systems and how data needs to flow more freely between multiple tools.

Haran acknowledged that while it’s a big part of his business, it’s “really, really tough.”

He explained that MRED performed a survey of members logins or how many different systems into which they were entering data to find leads, manage transactions and, generally, conduct business.

Chris Haran of MRED | Photo by AJ Canaria of PlanOMatic / Inside Real Estate

“We built a case study with an agent out of Chicago that did about $20 million in volume, 40 transactions a year,” Haran said.

“We discovered 34 different platforms that he uses on a regular basis, that often use the same information, either reuploading it or rekeying it.”

As agents in the room calculated the rough commission in their heads, Haran said that agents of that ilk are asking for automation, but what they really mean is integration.

“If I have this data I need to keep using over and over again, why can’t it just go from my MLS to my CRM to my transaction management system, and back around again?” Haran said.

Linking software systems is often done with an API or application programming interface, but real estate needs to do more than rely on that kind of connection because there’s still standardized data to consider.

Georg Gerstenfeld, DocuSign; Photo by AJ Canaria of PlanOMatic / Inside Real Estate

“I think it’s one thing to have an API, but it’s up to the broker to decide, ‘what’s the source of truth?'” Ragusa said, referring to what’s the initial, most accurate source of data.

“The platform, that core system, whatever their biggest database is, really does need to be that source of truth that everybody can reliably push and pull from,” she said.

Flexibility is key, she told the room, because every brokerage might have the same large sets of data, such as listings and transactions and consumer data, but business styles and operational nuances vary greatly.

The panel acknowledged that data challenges are piling up in the industry. Brokers continue to be burdened by multiple software partners, MLS advances, agents who introduce their own systems and countless other streams of information that generate business-critical data.

While overwhelming and confusing, the good news is that the industry is aware of it, and that smart people are on top of it.

“I think data collection is huge, don’t miss an opportunity that you’re going to regret in five, 10 years,” Ragusa said. “It’s still about a human in the biggest transaction of their life, and all the data is to empower them to make better decisions and to empower the Realtor to help them.”

Email Craig Rowe

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