MLS Wins Mobile, or Fails the Agent

by Victor Lund on April 6, 2012

If you have been to a real estate conference in the past three years, you may have heard a session about mobile technology. Those strange phones that every person in America carries with them everywhere they go is also a computer. Only a few hundred million people know this secret today.

MOBILE IS A CORE MLS SERVICE

Sorry for shouting and pardon my sarcasm.  Today’s MLS providers are failing to support agents (and consumers) with a mobile solution. This is not an opinion. It is a fact. We have surveyed agents everywhere in America, and at best, MLSs get a D in mobile. Most get an F. We have not encountered a single real estate agent in America who is a raving fan of the mobile solution provided by their MLS as a core service.

(note: an iPad is a mobile device)

Here is a lighthearted bit of fiction.

Brian Boero of 1000watt Consulting gave birth to the idea that Zillow is only one field away from being an MLS system. Zillow did not realize this until Boero uttered the words on a conference stage. Zillow had not done a comparison. After their ah-ha moment, they hired one of the top MLS executive operators in America under the fog of the title “industry relations.” 6 months later they add the “offers of compensation field” and launch the Free MLS program at the National Association of REALTORS conference. Agents and brokers dismiss their subscriptions to their MLS – all the data is on Zillow anyway. With the erosion of member dues and long contracts with vendors, the MLS and Associatons of America go into default 6-12 months after the agents leave. Zillow stock soars. (he he ha ha)

Back to my point

Guess what. Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, Homes.com all work on mobile. Their software faces professionals and consumers with dignity. It is the fastest growing segment of their business. They provide outstanding user experience. They are kicking your……

If there is one thing that you accomplish in 2012 as an MLS, it should be to deliver an excellent mobile experience. Create raving fans.

MLS Security makes mobile suck

WAV Group supports data security 100%, but recognizes that it is painful to enter your username and password on a mobile device every time you want to perform a task. Security solutions are a hindrance to adoption of mobile MLS tools. It takes 5 minutes for the average agent to access the MLS on their mobile device. The experience is so painful that the agents simply give up and hate the MLS for having such a complicated service offering.

Today’s MLS and MLS vendor needs to take a deep look at the use case scenarios of mobile. The solution must be easy to use so the agent is more productive. Think carefully about what can be done by a logged-in user versus a view-only user.

If you want to see a cleaver example of this type of thinking, look at Virtual Office Website solutions. Look at Redfin.com or C21home.com and you will see websites with an IDX-VOW combination search solution. Extend VOW a bit further to Add/Edit, and you nailed it (but you will need to be current with RETS 1.8 to be able to accept data).

All Core Services Should Be Mobile

I mentioned the MLS system here. But there are many core services that MLS offers that agents should have access to on mobile. Single sign on should work. If some MLS tools work on mobile, but others do not – the MLS has failed. Put your vendors on notice that if their solution does not support access on all screens, you will not renew their contract. Write them today.

By the way, you cannot buy it.

There are excellent mobile solutions for MLS today. Your challenge is not to buy the best one. Most of them are good or great. The challenge for the MLS is to sit down with every subscriber, rip the mobile device out of their sweaty palms, and teach them how to use mobile. Your focus must be to drive adoption.

Closing thought

If you are focused on your customer and you care about what you do as a professional, you will take heed to this call to action. Don’t miss this opportunity. You are already late to the party, but that does not mean that you cannot win the party. Get on the mobile dance floor and boogie!

 

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Victor Lund April 6, 2012 at 12:09 pm

Interestingly – the most highly valued company in America today is Apple – they are having some impressive adoption with their App Store (you may have heard).

Oh yea – a Company called Google is into Apps too.

Today, there was this article about Microsoft getting into the app business: check it out : http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304750404577321933818976966.html?mod=djemTECH_h

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