At a recent tech presentation, Brandon Weber of Hightower said one of the reasons he developed the lease management app was because the platform used before – the CRM – has never been effective.
That’s for sure. Even if a CRM app had a deal tracing, opportunities or a project management feature, most agents never used it. Plus, CRMs were stuck on a desktop.
But even cloud CRMs that allow for multi-user access… Maybe it’s different elsewhere, but agents just don’t use that feature for in-house collaboration. And when they offer access to clients – they’re not interested. “Just email it to me” is what they’d say.
Then I read this:
The locus of collaboration has never been a folder, but rather communication. …were you designing a collaboration tool from first principles you would start with the communications channel and add the file management, not the other way around.
While he wasn’t talking about CRM or project management specifically, in a few sentences, Stratechery’s Ben Thompson encapsulated the problem. While they say they were built for better collaboration, they’re still file, project or contact centered. In other words, they’re just centralized information vaults and have nothing to do with communication.
What would a truly collaborative app look like? It’s built around normal modes of communication be it email, messaging or phone. Like being able to share email folders. Gmail is getting close with Label Sharing, but surely someone can come with something easier. And might it be nice to have automatic call logging where a dialog box pops up after every call (with a “remind me later” button in case you’re in a hurry) so you can type in notes to save or send somewhere?
Messaging apps like Slack are about the closest thing to what Thompson was referring to. Instead of a slew of standalone software, a company is connected via a messaging system that not only stores all communications but allows for file sharing and integration with other apps to give each user a dashboard from which to work. While most of these are currently for internal office communication, a client component could easily be built in.
What’s distinctive about Slack is that it’s built with today’s user in mind. The on their phone texting, talking, browsing, app switching person most of us have become. Now you can do the same thing at your desktop, too – and in the office for work no less.
No doubt old style CRM, transaction management – or any productivity software for that matter – doesn’t meet many of today’s needs. That’s not just true for CRE either. Lots of industries and people are looking for something better. But instead of giving business processes and the way people do things some real thought, too many “disrupters” are only reinventing the same old wheel.
And though integration is creeping in, they’re all still destination apps. They’re a place you have to go to “report” on what you did or said instead of capturing it all in the first place. How does it help you to have yet one more place to put your stuff or do your work? How about coming up with a way for technology to work for us instead of us having to do something to make it work?