Mark Flavin is recognized as a recipient of the 2010 REALTOR® Technology Spotlight Award in the Pioneer category. CRT asked a few questions. Check out what Mark shared with us:
What is your favorite tech tool out there? What makes it so great? At the moment my favorite tech tool is Dropbox. This free online service allows you to easily share files and folders between computers and even devices. With more email providers actively blocking file attachments and putting restrictions on messages size the Dropbox public folder feature provides an easy way to securely share files with clients by sending them a link rather than an attachment. Finally Dropbox allows you to collaboratively share files with other Dropbox uses which is a great way to work on shared resources without managing multiple attachments.
Where do you get the latest technology information to keep you ahead of the curve? Each morning I read/skim through approximately 120 different blogs, online news sites and magazines. But the best source of information for me is our members and association staff. I listen to what they are trying to do in the field or what pain-points they are encountering in a transaction and then I proactively look for the tools and services to address these challenges. Since our members are always trying to stay inline and ahead of the consumer this naturally pushes me forward.
As a tech thought leader – what kind of information are you looking to get your hands on? At a high level I try to keep informed of changes in consumer behavior and emerging technologies. This information along with our annual strategic planning process is critical for me to identify the right opportunities for new services or tools our members can utilize in their business. The resources from NAR including the field guides, NAR insights and member surveys are items that I regularly review and share. Ultimately though keeping in touch with agents and brokers and understanding their unique challenges from a business and service perspective is without a doubt the most critical information resource I have available to me.
What is the biggest trend you see developing in real estate right now – tech or otherwise? Right now we are seeing a convergence between smartphones, video, mobile broadband and social networking with the smartphone becoming the unified messaging and multimedia creation platform. This is impacting consumer behaviors in fundamental ways which are causing agents and brokers to make service and marketing decisions they have not been forced to consider since the emergence of the web. Consumers are expecting their agents to be available around the clock and be able to respond to requests for information across a variety of different channels. This is forcing the Brokers and Agents into new learning curves from choosing the best device to selecting their platform and how they are going to integrate these new tools into their service catalog. For example all estimates point to 2015 as being the year when mobile devices will outnumber desktops yet at the moment Brokers and Agents are just now starting to consider how their web-presence looks on these devices.
Finally, which do you like best – iPhone; Android; WindowsMobile; Blackberry; Other? Why? My two favorite devices are the iPhone and Android. With the exception of some unique platform specific features both devices are comparatively similar. The three reasons I prefer iPhone and Android are unified messaging, web display and application availability. The Blackberry does a great job at responding to emails but the iPhone and Android make it much easier to respond across a variety of channels including email, text, voice and instant messaging. Both devices provide a web experience which is largely similar to desktop whereas with the Blackberry and Windows Mobile the mobile web experience is entirely different and often times much worse than the desktop experience. Finally the infinite expandability and customization via different applications make both the Android and iPhone highly efficient multifunction purpose tools. For example you can take a video with the built in camera make some changes and upload directly to your website without ever touching a computer.