I try to read as many commercial real estate blogs, forums and reviews as I can each week. It is rare to go one week without seeing information (satisfactory and let’s be honest, mostly dissatisfactory) about mobile technology for CRE. At Ascendix we are trying to do more than just check off the “we have mobile access” box and instead offer a true mobile CRM solution. Here are some of the points we took into account:
- Consumption vs. Creation
- Which CRE departments consistently use iPads and other mobile technology?
- Maximizing the impact of tablets and smartphones in the commercial real estate industry
- Do we have to support all mobile devices or just the most popular?
- Should we use the solution provided by Microsoft or build our own?
Consumption vs. Creation:
This is a conversation being had across all business types and industries. When applied directly to commercial real estate it becomes very interesting. Everyone at every level and department clearly is consuming, but who is creating? Where does the bulk of creation take place? How many people are sharing the created data? We think we know, but what is your take?
Do all departments use tablets? The most verbal group of users is of course the brokers, but I’m curious about if and how much the research departments are using mobile technology. So if Brokers and Researchers are using them the most in the field you have to look at the top functions being performed. Searching for buildings, leases, people – right there, on the spot. This would include creating tour reports on the go based on filters.
What features could CRM use to advance mobile? Geocoding, mapping, tour reports, user-friendly searching tools and connections. Making these things available to you on a street corner or while having coffee means you can do more than just access contacts, phone numbers, addresses and notes.
Since the majority of those who are vocal about wanting a solution use iPad and iPhones, should we only worry about catering to the Apple users? Well, for now, our offering is an Apple app, however, we also are aiming towards a cross-platform solution. Think about the recent Windows Surface tablet. If that piece of technology takes off and becomes popular, we have then pigeon-holed ourselves and limited your ability to choose the technology you want tomorrow.
Microsoft and Salesforce provide access to a quick mobile solution for their partners, however, these don’t take specific needs into account. The technically gifted here would call that “Use Case Based Interface vs. Replication” (huh?). Essentially, the quick fix isn’t visually appealing and doesn’t have the CRE’s movers and shakers in mind. They are form-based (ugly) and simply tries to replicate CRM instead of taking into account the mobile broker. It is accessible, but not a solution that will take mobile in commercial real estate to the next level.