There are competing theories when it comes to the future of real estate, but Gary Keller stands firm in his belief that the industry is in a time of massive change accelerated by an impending digital boom. The winners will be decided soon.
“In February, I said you won’t recognize the real estate industry,” said the co-founder and CEO of Keller Williams at Inman Connect San Francisco. “I wasn’t kidding. The amount of change we’ve been feeling is palpable. It’s coming.”
We are in the midst of what Keller calls the “fourth industrial revolution,” or “data powered by artificial intelligence.”
Tech-enabled agent or agent enabling tech – which will you be?
Per Keller, agents have two choices: “You can either be an agent who is enabled by tech or you’re going to be the agent who is enabling tech. This is a battle over who will be the fiduciary.”
In the world of the tech-enabled agent, the agent remains the fiduciary of the consumer experience while technology plays a functionary role. For example: a tech-enabled agent uses an MLS system so they can be at the center of the consumer experience. In the world of agent-enabled tech, software and systems are at the center of the consumer experience, while the agent plays a functionary role.
Additionally, the tech-enabled agent has control over their data while the agent who enables tech does not.
Keller Williams is taking a stand for its agents
To ensure agents succeed in the fourth industrial revolution and beyond – Keller Williams has made several moves; the most pivotal being the firm’s shift into a technology company.
This meant going from, “over 100 vendors providing technology to building it ourselves,” explained Josh Team, president for Keller Williams, a day prior.
It also led to the construction of the company’s innovation engine.
At its simplest, an innovation engine is a cloud service with artificial intelligence built on top of it. The Keller Cloud – launched in 2017 – is a platform that hosts several interconnected applications, making business easier for KW agents. It is coupled with Kelle, an award-winning AI-powered personal assistant. And, unlike any other company in the space, ALL of the data within the cloud is exclusively owned by Keller Williams and its agents.
The competitive edge
This innovation engine gives Keller Williams the ultimate competitive edge. Since February, Kelle has racked up 76,878 downloads. Among its many features, users are able to access hyperlocal market reports, send and receive agent-to-agent referrals, and stay on track to hit key business goals. Since Kelle is always on and always learning, she will get more powerful over time.
“The ability to innovate in real time changes everything. The ability to build a platform that talks to each other is everything,” Keller exclaimed. “If you want to build an innovation engine, it takes about 2-3 years. In order to make it significant, you have to have the data. The problem with the 2-3 year timeframe is it’s happening right now. If you don’t have it, you’re automatically in second place.”
Keller’s tenacity is driven entirely by the agent, and for the agent.
“The average amount an agent will spend on their technology is $1 billion. My goal is to reclaim the $1 billion for the agent.”
Over 200 technologists are marching towards this goal, and they are not alone. KW has enlisted its agent community, 180,000-strong, to accelerate progress through a process called Labs. Labs is a collaborative approach to technology development, enabling agents to build, test and define technology that will run and grow their businesses. Like profit share, Labs is evidence of the company’s commitment to treating agents as true business partners.
In a period of rapid modernization, Keller believes the company is positioned exactly where it needs to be.
When asked if Keller Williams came to technology too late, he responded, “We’re the only one on time, and that will show up in a couple of months. Technology will protect our people. Putting technology that works in their hands is the only thing we’re focused on.”
Keller Williams’ Tech Strategy Explained
It’s no secret. Keller Willliams is building the most innovative technology in real estate. Watch as Gary Keller reveals the inner workings of the company’s tech strategy, beginning with the innovation engine that powers it all.