An open ecosystem can offer a central location for the property, transaction, consumer and business data that drives business. Realogy’s Simon Chen offers insight into how it can provide greater flexibility and scale for agents and brokers alike.

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Let’s face it: Real estate professionals have new technologies thrown at them every single day. It makes sense; tech experts want to help agents and brokers harness the value of the hottest real estate market the world has ever witnessed for mutual benefit.

Agents and brokers, however, are busy — they only want to adopt new technologies that truly make their jobs easier and satisfy customer demands for more personalized digital experiences similar to Apple or Amazon.

Developing products and solutions that provide actionable benefits to the agent, broker, franchise owner and consumer sounds like a tall order, right? It is, and it isn’t. 

What we hear from our agents and brokers every day is that they love the products and programs our brands provide but wish they worked more seamlessly together with everything else they are using. 

The answer lies not necessarily in more development but in more integration.

Enter, the open ecosystem.

What is an open ecosystem?

It’s hard to explain an open ecosystem without describing a closed one first.

A closed structure is typically built on an inflexible architecture that doesn’t complement other technologies. Think of Blackberry phones: once coveted for their unique features, they were then rendered obsolete by smartphones that offer virtually unlimited features for the user.

Some real estate companies decided to move to a closed ecosystem, with their agents — and often customers — required to use a standard and limited set of apps supported by the company.  

We understand the appeal of a closed structure because it’s one we used before. While it was innovative at the time and developed a passionate following, we found the architecture limited our ability to leverage the pace of industry innovation.

Closed architecture also meant that applications tended to function in silos, with credentials or data having to be re-entered into each application — a hassle at best, but more commonly a source of errors resulting in lost time, resources and business for the users.  

What our experiences taught us is that an open ecosystem can provide interoperability across a range of tools and services, offering a central location for the property, transaction, consumer and business data that drives our business.

Data sharing in an open system

This also provides the ability for that centralized data to be shared across all of the solutions within the open ecosystem, which remains open and adaptable. This, of course, requires a commitment to think of the open ecosystem as a product, providing not just the platform, integrations and APIs, but also documentation, self-help, support and community.  

An open ecosystem allows brokers and agents to assemble a suite of tools that will give them a leg up on their competition while also eliminating the huge costs and complexity that can come with trying to assemble their own ecosystem. 

They can leverage their own tools, but also quickly connect with best-of-breed tools as needed — even tools that they might not have otherwise been able to access as a small account.

With an open ecosystem, brokers and agents are able to choose from multiple offerings within the marketplace, even within each application category, such as MoxiWorks, MarketLeader, or Cloze for contact relationship management. This is especially important as new types of applications continue to be introduced that help agents stay connected to consumers during not just the transaction, but the entire homeownership lifecycle.  

We view technology not as a disruptor, but as an enabler. 

The open ecosystem, with its ability to bring together hundreds of best-of-breed solutions in a way where the whole truly is greater than the sum of its parts, is the foundation of how we provide innovation, flexibility, and scale to brokers and agents to help them grow their businesses.

Simon Chen is Executive Vice President, Product and Innovation, at Realogy Holdings Corp. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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