Every industry has a coming of age - a perfect storm of economics, technology, politics, environment and people power all aligning for the big kaboom....and guess what? It's happening. But it's a great kaboom, not a scary one. It's not a time for fear or doubt, hiding or insignificance; it's a time for strategic leadership, group participation and execution (yes, the "action" kind). I just returned from a 2-day whirlwind trip to Houston for HAR's Real Estate Information Symposium. Hats off to the HAR team for delivering value with an organized, educational, timely and inspiring gathering on the heels of the annual Clareity conference in Scottsdale (also quite deserving of the aforementioned accolades). Being present (and honored) at both of these events and taking away significant wisdom from the front of the room and the back of the lounge, I am ridiculously excited about the times we are in, and even more-so for the times ahead. I am also proud to be deeply involved in the business from the inside out - truly understanding the choices, challenges and opportunities of the MLS community and working hard to deliver valuable, relevant solutions to "real" issues.
Here are a few of my observations.
This week, we were treated to a wealth of information on three timely offerings to the MLS: NAR's RPR, First American/Core Logic's Information Network and Move's FIND. These services are all initiated from outside the MLS, utilizing MLS data as the core valuable content. We looked at these offerings from soup to nuts in terms of product detail, contract review, and opinions from MLSs.
There is obvious urgency to act - not necessarily to sign a contract with one, two or all of these but to do something. MLSs are feeling the pressure to take action to deliver services to members (via one or all of these or with internally funded/implemented tools). It is time for Association and MLS leadership to lead strategically. There are critical business decisions to be made; each with impacts - some single level and others with branchy, thorny trickle downs.
These decisions can impact the existing culture, philosophy and/or business practices of an MLS and ultimately dictate its long-term relevance and perhaps survival. Go with RPR, fortify our system or do both? Go with RPR, First American, FIND, all, some, or none? Focus on consumer engagement that takes greater eyeball share of online consumers? Destination, distribution or both? These are just a handful of decisions that must be made. On top of that, there is the stacking of residual actions to follow from those decisions and their results.
There is so much intellectual property within the MLS community which is obvious at forums like CMLS but really emphasized at the intimate settings of Clareity and REIS. There are bold, daring leaders from large and small entities who have pioneered their own tools, and with lessons from failures and/or successes, have redefined their organizations. There are newer CEOs and Executives delving into their organizations, facing new challenges and assessing the field, trying to understand the best move.
Look at what HAR has done - taken the reigns and assembled REIS; what an exceptional example of industry leadership and belief in teamwork. As individuals, this group is powerful; collectively, one can only imagine what is possible with that strength, experience and knowledge. I believe in the coming months we will all benefit from the results of the enhanced teamwork and information sharing that continues to escalate during this time.
Here's what I know for certain: there is uncertainty, there is opportunity, there is energy. MLSs are in a powerful and pivotal role in rapidly changing times. It's time to take inventory, take action and take on the future.
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