Fairfax Marketplaces’ Tony Blamey opens up about what he gleaned from Real Estate Business’ inaugural Technology Roundtable, and what this means for industry professionals

FOR DOMAIN, the Technology Roundtable was a great opportunity to share some of the exciting developments we are pursuing in the technology space. We are keen to demonstrate to the industry that Domain’s innovative approach around technology is critically important for property buyers, vendors and agents.

In a very short space of time a vast array of new media and technology have become essential business tools for those running real estate businesses. Mobile, social media, video, data, CRMs and cloud computing are all relatively new concepts that we’ve had to get up to speed with. Thiswave of innovation is on the back of the emergence of online as a major disruption to traditional media.

At Fairfax Media, we’ve had an appreciation of the diverse technology needs of the real estate industry for some time, having made strategic acquisitions of real estate services businesses such as Commerce Australia (provider of MyDesktop) and Australian Property Monitors (APM). The RealEstate Business Technology Roundtable presented an opportunity to hear from other providers.

At the Roundtable I gained more of an appreciation of how we, as service providers, can provide a more seamless service to agents. The standardisation of XML feeds was an obvious area where greater collaboration amongst service providers would benefit both agents and the providers. Many of the businesses represented at the Roundtable already work together across areas such as fraud prevention by sharing new instances as they occur.

Scott Wulff from MyDesktop has always adopted an approach of partnering with other service providers to ensure flexibility for agents so they can receive ‘best of breed’ services. Scott’s clear focus on the client relationship management space for residential real estate has allowed MyDesktop to develop into the market leader in this sector. Scott has chosen to integrate with other providers, who are expert in their areas. This approach provides agents with greater choice as to what other services they ‘bolt-on’ to their CRM and doesn’t force them into services that are second rate or that are not updated regularly. On the back of the Roundtable, Scott has invited some of the service providers to attend his regular user group sessions. This will encourage further collaboration and improve integration of these services with MyDesktop.

At the Roundtable we discussed the future role of shopfronts for real estate businesses. Some felt the role of shopfronts would diminish in the future while others believed that, despite technology allowing more flexibility, agent shopfronts would still be significant in connecting an agent’s brand to the local community. It will be interesting to see how much social media will facilitate this community connection.

For me, the Roundtable reinforced the role technology providers play in educating agents around the use of technology and future trends. It was clear that most providers are set up to provide advice and education to agents around not only their own services and technology trends in general. Most of our sales consultants are well versed in the use of mobile, social media and video and we have expertise in real estate media, CRMs and property data. At Domain we also offer key insights into consumer behaviour. The reality is that consumers’ expectations have risen and they are seeking more information up front to facilitate their property research process.

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