IREM Blogs

Exploring Innovation at the Annual iOi Summit

August 26, 2019 | Denise Froemming


The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) kicked off its second year of their Innovation, Opportunity & Investment in Real Estate Conference in Seattle on August 21-22. The theme of this year’s conference focused on “innovation worth exploring”—not necessarily the next shiny object, but those tech opportunities that make a positive impact on processes, transactions and the customer experience. The conference brought together over 500 real estate technology minds, investors and REALTOR® members to work in partnership, network and lead change. NAR President John Smaby and NAR CEO Bob Goldberg reiterated the importance of keeping NAR ahead of industry evolution and seeing change as an opportunity, not a threat—a theme IREM has been focusing on with our Technology Advisory Board and Innovator-In-Residence James Scott, as we develop our technology toolkits this year.

The conference got underway with Bob Goldberg moderating a panel of industry experts who discussed mass customization—consuming real estate the way each consumer desires. The panel highlighted a need to deliver a self-serve as well as a full-serve product, allowing consumers the ability to select what fits their consumption preferences.  A notable quote from Marilyn Wilson, managing partner and founder of consulting firm WAV Group was, “If you’re a tech startup, make sure you focus on being a painkiller and not only a vitamin,” something we should all keep in mind as we deliver value. Further discussion ensued around taking the friction out of processes and the importance of using data more intentionally as predictive analytics.

Another panel moderated by Tyler Thompson, managing director of Second City Ventures, focused on innovation in an experience economy where both residential and commercial customers are evangelists, and like-minded people come together to “create magic moments.” The panelists emphasized the importance of focusing, knowing who you are as an organization, and not trying to be all things to everyone. Many of us can identify with the constant battle between saying too much and just enough in our messaging. To help walk this fine line, it’s helpful to ask yourself, “What problem am I trying to solve?” If you can answer this, you’ll likely create the moments your customers feel they’ve been heard.

The Pitch Battle was at the heart of the conference, captivating the audience as it listened to fourteen residential and commercial startups each give a 4-minute pitch to a panel of judges. Excitement and tension rose as attendees tallied their own scorecards. The winner of the Pitch Battle was Curbio, a startup aimed at revolutionizing presale home renovations.

During the conference, Katie Lance, CEO and founder of Katie Lance Consulting, specializing in helping real estate agents and brokers grow business by using social media, reminded us that relationships are king, and content—content that moves us and tells a story—is queen.  Katie encouraged us to be our authentic selves and to “lean into who we are and who we are not.” Great advice as we cut through all the noise and intentionally deliver a message that connects with our clients.

At the end of the day, Katie summed up where we need to be when she said, “What doesn’t challenge you won’t change you.” We all know change is the only constant in our world. For some of us, change is exciting and is critical to our survival - that’s the camp I’m in - and for others it’s petrifying. Whatever camp you’re in, seek to understand the “why” behind your actions, and keep that front and center when communicating with others.

I’m excited to attend another iOi Summit in 2020 to see what commercial connections we can make!

About the Author
Denise Froemming, CAE, MBA, CPA, is CEO and executive vice president of IREM.

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