We’re watching more and more video on our mobile phones and increasingly speaking to our devices. Artificial intelligence is collecting more and more data, and all of this big data is allowing for more personalised experiences – and secure infrastructure so that we feel we can trust it.
Every year, technology guru Mary Meeker from venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfield Buyer provides a snapshot of the major technology trends based on changing usage data from around the globe.
I’ve read through the 294 slide deck to pull out the key insights for real estate agents in this new era identified by Meeker as being driven by computing power and human potential. Here are the highlights.
1. Mobile video usage continues to rise
According to Meeker, in 2017 we were watching close to 30 minutes of video each day on our mobile phones. In 2018, that number is estimated to be closer to 35 minutes.
The takeaway: short, sharp videos are one of the most powerful ways to connect with clients and should be an essential part of any agents tool kit.
2. Voice technology is taking off
The accuracy of machines to learn words is now at 95% which is where humans start to find it difficult to differentiate between a machine and a person.
Google Homes, Siri and Amazon’s Alexa are putting voice automated technology into our hands and our homes and they make the experience feel personal.
The day is coming where needing to log on to a computer to ‘do’ something will seem antiquated.
The takeaway: This is a trend for agents to watch for two reasons. Voice activated technology is the beginning of bots becoming personal assistants, allowing us to issue instructions on the fly. They are also a major data collector – so how can agents use or apply the data being collected in ways that will increasingly personalise selling and buying experiences?
3. The most powerful data is both personal and collective – and it takes lots of money and smarts to unleash it
Meeker’s observation is that when user data is unleashed, overlaid with other datasets and then looped back to users, it becomes turbo charged in both the quality and quantity and the value of insights its able to provide and the actions it’s able to empower.
But the resources and research it takes to collect and crunch the numbers are taking this well out of the realm of small business and garage entrepreneurs. Technology companies make up 6 of the top 15 spenders on research and development in the US.
Meeker highlights that an absence of trust is creating a reactive element in the community that needs to be managed.
Deloitte research shows 79% of people will share their data when they see there is a clear personal benefit. When distrust exists however, consumers will take action including disabling apps, more carefully reading privacy statements and adjusting their privacy settings.
“It’s crucial to manage for unintended consequences, but it’s irresponsible to stop innovation and progress,” Meeker said.
The takeaway: Data that sits isolated in a closed CRM is performing at only 1% of its potential and is therefore not truly valuable. To realise the value of the asset that is their database, real estate agents need to partner with companies that have the resource to overlay it with other data and provide additional insights and value in the form of services and platforms they could not afford to develop nor conceive themselves. Work with partners you can trust in the big data space.
4. Social media is driving product discovery and buying behaviour
The claim by newspapers that they dominate the “passive audience” space is now being challenged by social media, according to Meeker who points out that audiences are increasingly discovering products and services in their feeds and taking action as a result.
Meeker provides evidence that businesses spend more on print advertising (9%) than the time spent reading it warrants (just 4%), while mobile advertising is underinvested in. Meeker says that while mobile advertising commands 29% of our time, it receives just 26% of the advertising budget. In 2017, $88b was spent on internet advertising, up from $73b previously. In another slide, she identifies that we’re spending 135 minutes a day on social media.
The takeaway: This is more evidence that agents need to be embracing digital and social media content and advertising strategies and move away from what has been comfortable in the past.
5. The most effective advertising is now data driven
Meeker observes that back in the 1890s, demographic insights drove advertising catalogues. This morphed into brand advertising from the 1940s to 1990s and then into utility and ease of transactions from the 1990s to 2010. But now, advertising is all data driven, which allows it to become personalised, customised and curated, getting rid of the noise.
The takeaway: Some big lessons here for real estate agents who are determined to hang onto the advertising methods of the 1890s and push only their brand as the best or focus on the transaction. Meeker identifies that this behaviour is rooted well and truly in the past. It’s time to embrace data-driven results.
6. Data is an important driver of customer satisfaction
With the exception of Facebook, post the Cambridge Analytica scandal, most US internet data companies have very high customer satisfaction scores.
Meeker identifies the driver of this being the ability of data make experiences personal and helpful. She points to the 900% rise in queries for products and services ‘near me’ in Google between 2015 and 2017 as evidence. Looking for a café? You don’t just want to find somewhere that serves a good quality breakfast, you want the best quality breakfast within walking distance.
This means that location, immediacy and past decisions are becoming decision points. We no longer just want recommendations based on the best, we want them sorted according to our own personal likes and dislikes – what’s best for me. And to do that, we need to share data about ourselves.
The takeaway: Regardless of whether you want to embrace big data or not, personalised service is now a major expectation. Consumers will no longer tolerate generic, vanilla or shoddy service. They expect their preferences to be both understood and acted upon – and in real estate this includes sellers, buyers, landlords and tenants who expect to be understood for the total value of their relationship.
7. The bigger the data gets, the smarter it gets – and the smarter everything gets
Meeker identifies that the true strength of artificial intelligence is its ability to learn, adapt and improve.
The growing streams of data now starting to feed into many AI systems, means they are now on serious and constant improvement loops. The more data, the better the analytics and accuracy, which results in better products, attracting more customers who allow the system to capture more data.
“AI is one of the most important things humanity is working on. It is more profound than electricity or fire,” said Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google in February this year. “We have learned to harness fire for the benefits of humanity but we had to overcome its downsides too. AI is really important but we have to be concerned about it.”
But while it is important, businesses are still slow to adopt – although this is starting to ramp up quickly. Meeker points out that as of April 2018, AI represents only 5% of IT projects that will see big spending increases – although this number has more than doubled since January.
The takeaway: the bots are coming – but you’ll have some time to get used to it. Start thinking about how you could use AI loops to feed constant improvement in your business, who to partner with and how to start investing.
The Mary Meeker Internet Trends 2018 full deck is available at: https://www.slideshare.net/kleinerperkins/internet-trends-report-2018-99574140
Speaking of bots …
Our blog Combining Robots and Outsourcing Happening Now explores how Rita - an AI powered digital employee - in partnership with outsourcing can transform how real estate agents conduct their business.