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When the Sum of the Parts is Worth Far Less than the Whole

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Commentary By Ken Jenny

RISMEDIA, Sept. 26, 2007-One of the greatest frustrations today for the brokers and agents of the residential real estate industry is the ongoing dilemma of dealing with “parts.” Those parts of the industry’s marketing and brokerage products and services that remain separate and disintegrated with each other.

Otherwise valuable services and products continue to be devalued because they are nothing more than standalone solutions. You know what I mean-what happens to you when you use a system or a solution that requires you to re-enter listing and transaction data? The same data that exists somewhere else, but due to the separate nature of the product and services’ providers, cannot be accessed and shared by a particular group of systems or solutions.

I am reminded of this dilemma as I roam through the halls of various vendor events-it’s like adult trick-or-treating-at the end of the day you end up with a bag of disintegrated stuff and no idea where to begin to make it all work together.

Although there are many existing data standards for most of what is done with data in the brokerage industry, shared standards alone do not promote greater usability.

The critical component to creating integrated, single-point-of-entry solutions is greatly lacking in the real estate business today-and that component is “competitive cooperation.” This is the realization among independent solution providers that there is more value in working together to fully integrate and create true solutions than there is in selling disintegrated systems. Most of this increased value is rightfully intended for the good of the user and to increase sales-both worthy results. Enhancing the usability of systems by creating cooperative joint efforts has tremendous potential user value-for both the provider and the user of the integrated solution.

Recently, through such a joint effort orchestrated by Fidelity National Real Estate Solutions, AdWriter and SharperAgent, something very unique was created. These diverse companies joined together in an effort to create the industry’s first fully integrated MLS data, electronic marketing and automated advertising content system.
Under the MyMarketing® brand, and where available, users of Fidelity’s MLS technology have the opportunity to access either the fully integrated Fidelity eMarketer or the Fidelity eAdWriter solutions. The process was designed to cause the least amount of added steps for the user, the need for repetitive data entry and to enhance the ease of use for brokers and agents.

All that is required is for the property listing data to be entered into the MLS system and the rest of the MyMarketing integration is completed automatically. Once a listing has been added to the MLS database by a user, both the integrated marketing and the adwriting systems are instantly auto-populated with that specific user’s listing inventory. At the same time, a series of ads are automatically written by the special version of the AdWriter system, and varied marketing pieces in the tailored version of the SharperAgent system are populated with that user’s property data.

Now that’s integration.

The objective of this joint effort was to provide a valued extension of the basic MLS services. For the most part, it is necessary for the broker or the solution provider to request an MLS data feed and then for some party to integrate that feed into varied brokerage solutions. This is no longer required when using the MyMarketing solution.
Imagine the unlimited possibilities if more product and services’ providers undertook such efforts? Some observers have likened the MyMarketing solution in some ways to the original intent of Microsoft and its Windows operating system-the creation of a technology environment where it is possible to “plug and play” through the use of a standardized data integration and technology platform.

The merit of such joint efforts in the residential brokerage industry is clear but certainly not widely available. If other system providers want to one day achieve the same result-namely, integrated solutions-it is highly suggested that they consider creating such cooperative ventures.

Join together, integrate, create true integrated solutions and start realizing the greater value of being something whole. RE

Kenneth L. Jenny is CEO and managing director of tranCen.com, Inc., a residential brokerage services company.

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