On a side note, I’ll be taking some time off, so this will be my last post until after the new year. Happy holidays to everyone!
2011 Tech Winners
While maps are a given for CRE, using them for a search interface hasn’t been that popular for commercial brokerage searches. They’ve been on residential sites and LoopNet but there’s always been some question as to whether users would use them. And agents didn’t seem particularly fond of them, preferring to use search criteria. But users have seen the map search interface long enough to be familiar – in fact, it may even be expected now. So brokerage sites are finally getting in on the action. Maybe we have Dave Lewand to thank for some of this…
A few horror stories aside, agents flocked to DropBox as a simple way to keep their files in one place/accessible from anywhere. Sure, you could use Google Docs, SkyDrive or a host of other cloud storage apps. But SIMPLE made the difference…easy to set up and use and it works on just about everything.
CRM Moves Online
Cloud CRM apps have been around a while but there was intense interest this year as agents got fed up with trying to keep all their devices synched. And there was some relief in site since some new CRE specific CRM apps appeared and existing ones matured. ClientLook rolled out an upgrade, Act! finally offered a cloud version (Act! Connect) and apps like REThink and PropertyBase (both built on Salesforce.com) started gaining traction. It’s still maybe a little too complicated for some, but from this point on, it’s only going to get easier.
Microsoft (remember them?) is supposed to finally get into the mobile market in a big way in 2012 (second half). Windows 8 and its mobile version have garnered good reviews. For those agents who have been unable to master the multiple apps, configurations and operating systems to get your email, calendar, contacts and docs in sync, an integrated approach from the OS you’re most likely using should bring some relief. Let’s hope we all waited this long for something good.
Apps for CRE
2011 was the year that some tech savvy agents got fed up. So they developed apps or sites specific to the needs of CRE agents and users. RateBlend, theSquareFoot, TheBrokerList, REFM’s Commercial Directory (coming soon…). There’s even been talk about a CRE tech “startup” weekend. In 2012 the discontent continues with more CRE people getting involved in creating what’s been missing.
Nothing changes including the price. CoStar will wait out 2012 to see how everything shakes out though CoStar users should at least have the option to send their listings to LoopNet via CoStar. Boring, huh?
LoopNet Pro Tools
I recently previewed this but it looks like agents will finally have that all-purpose marketing tool they’ve been looking for. ProTools adds email marketing, property websites and flyer creation in one of the simplest to use interfaces I’ve ever seen. Plus – you can add “private” listings – open market listings that you don’t have an agreement to promote or exclusives that you don’t want to make public yet. Rumored pricing is reasonable, too. This will be a big money-maker for LoopNet – and help CoStar pay off that big loan they had to get for the merger…