May 15, 2017
In industries such as real estate, insurance, and banking, technological growing pains are very real. Companies in legacy industries often have long-established processes, structures, and protocols, making it hard to implement cloud-based data collection to monitor real estate leads or expand mobile platforms to track shifting banking and insurance numbers.
Real estate, for example, is a field scattered across independent agencies with their own established practices. The result is millions of agents making their own decisions—and an industry that’s slow to adopt universal technological standards on a national scale.
Although real estate struggles with fragmentation, its biggest issue is the same one many legacy industries grapple with: applying and updating long-entrenched processes. Implementing the needed technology can be a challenge, especially as independent agents and workers in general play bigger roles in these legacy industries; research by Intuit estimates that freelancers, contractors, and temp workers will make up more than 40% of the American workforce by 2020, and some estimate they will comprise nearly half by 2030.
The challenge going forward is to foster innovation while raising the quality of future job opportunities. That starts with equipping companies with tools and infrastructure that can be seamlessly incorporated into normal protocol, guaranteeing long-term success.
According to research my company did for the 2017 Swanepoel Trends Report, an estimated $1 billion is spent annually on real estate technology. Despite this investment, the number of dollars spent does not equate to the impact made or processes changed.
Rather than charge forward with implementation, legacy companies are advised to exercise caution and learn from others’ struggles. Here are five keys to keep in mind when introducing any new technology:
Develop a rollout plan. This plan should clearly articulate the problem a new technology is meant to solve and how it will accomplish that. A rollout is much more effective—and the ROI is ultimately higher—when technology is clearly understood. Make your technology serve a purpose, not just be new and exciting.
Build executive buy-in. When executives understand what a new technology can do and believe in its benefits, they’re more likely to invest in its rollout, training, and ongoing support. Considering that effective technology adoption takes years, support from the top is essential.
Make adoption easy. The simpler a new technology is to use, the more broadly and deeply it will be used by staff at all levels. Develop videos, training sessions, and other resources to ensure users feel as comfortable as possible in integrating the technology into their existing workflows.
Leverage product champions. Staff members who express enthusiasm about new technology are great resources for training others and building buy-in. Ask your most tech-savvy and personable staff members to help integrate a new technology within the company’s existing culture.
Track metrics closely. Metrics related to adoption and usage are true indicators of whether a tech implementation has been successful. Closely tracking these metrics allows you to make course corrections to an incomplete or ill-advised rollout strategy.
Real estate brokerage companies have learned these lessons painfully. There’s ample evidence that the buying and selling of properties will be even more high-tech in the future, and companies must put more time and resources into the implementation stage.
As other legacy industries are forced to evolve or become less relevant, they should learn they need more than just a willingness to change. The successful implementation of technology requires a total commitment, from the first day of rollout to broad adoption across the company.