Integration, collaboration and connected platforms – some great buzzwords, but what do they actually mean and do they really help agents?
One thing’s for sure… just talking about them won’t get us anywhere. If PropTechs are actually going to work together and deliver genuine benefits for their users, they have to be wholly and completely committed to delivering a truly connected experience.
You’ll hear all sorts of claims about integrations – but how do you cut through the noise? How do you recognise the fact from the fluff? And how do actually realise the value of what open and collaborative software companies are offering?
To help shed some light, I set up a Zoom call (it’s the thing to do these days) with some fellow agency tech leaders, asking them some key questions around innovation and collaboration in the sector.
Below is a summary of the main discussion points and some of the notable insights and opinions that were shared.
There are contributions from:
How central is collaboration to your organisation?
A PropTech might preach the values of openness and connectivity – but practising it is another step entirely. Is it part of their mission and business strategy? Do they have examples of working integrations being utilised?
The panel all agree, if a tech provider talks about integration, they should be able to answer the ‘so what?’ question, offering details and tangible benefits that can be realised today, tomorrow and beyond.
Lee at Canopy: “It’s imperative for us to work with other like-minded businesses – not only so we can offer the best version of our solution, but to learn, and evolve our proposition.”
“We have many forms of collaboration, but the key is that whatever the partnership looks like, it needs to be right for our customers. Done well, integration breaks down barriers. It can massively reduce workload, duplication and significantly speed up processes.”
Lewis at Fixflo: “We strongly recommend that if you believe in interoperability and the technology stack, then you must put this front and centre when procuring new software.”
“It’s not enough to simply ask ‘do you integrate?’. You should seek examples and service level agreements regarding how quickly integrations will be implemented so that all components of your solution work together in harmony.”
How do you collaborate with other PropTech providers?
A range of standard integrations should be… well… the standard. Freedom, choice and flexibility are the names of the game – and in 2020 we’re at the point where agents can rightly expect a level beyond.
You should be able to build and leverage bespoke links between solutions, implement integrations across your stack as you grow, and should not (repeat, should not!) face any barriers because providers can’t or don’t want to work together.
Ed at Viewber: “Collaboration isn’t just software-to-software. Viewber, for example, relies on tech to connect users of the market’s leading CRM systems with physical last-mile services.”
Lewis at Fixflo: “We have an extensive API which is made available to our PropTech partners, and we actively look for opportunities where our partner solutions can be used to assist our clients in achieving their business goals.”
Dan at Coadjute: “During the first stages of the Covid crisis, Coadjute and its partners pooled data on what was happening the property market, and produced a detailed weekly Property Market Insight report to track changes in activity across nationwide residential transactions.”
“No single company has this sort of end-to-end view, so it’s a great example of what can happen when we work together.”
Why is collaboration between PropTech providers so important in our industry?
Technology has become a crucial and comprehensive requirement for sales and lettings agents. It touches all areas of a business, and its presence is a fundamental expectation of staff and customers – not the ‘nice to have’ differentiator of years gone by.
Given the number of players involved and the different steps in the chain, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. The sheer scale and variety of needs served by software solutions today makes it near-impossible for a single supplier to tick every box.
And why would you want them to? You deserve the best of the best, and you shouldn’t be forced to compromise because different systems don’t play nicely with each other.
Lewis at Fixflo: “World-leading tech companies like Salesforce and Xero have shown us that ecosystems consisting of complementary and integrated solutions can provide flexibility and better outcomes for everyone.”
“No two agency businesses are exactly identical, so collaboration between PropTech providers allows them to build the perfect system for their unique needs.”
Lee at Canopy: “Despite some fantastic innovation and incredible products out there in the market, because there are so many working components to moving home, unless systems can talk to each other the process can still be very disjointed.”
Ed at Viewber: “Users can get the best of both worlds. They can harness the best solution for the job at hand, without having to look twice. When you have high-calibre providers collaborating then two-plus-two gives you more than four!”
Dan at Coadjute: “Data is a hugely valuable resource. It’s too risky for companies to centralise their data with one PropTech, yet they cannot work in siloes. The conclusion? PropTechs must collaborate.”
MRI Software offers feature-rich, integrated estate agency software for sales, lettings, accounting and property management. It is also a member of the Innovation Collaboration Group, an industry collective that showcases leading PropTech solutions.
*Trevor Youens is UK Residential Solutions Director at MRI Software