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Be Mobile or Die.

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In past blogs, I’ve talked at length about the different ways in which technology has created a more fluid and interactive business environment. For this installment, I would like to focus in on the increased usage of mobile devices in particular, as it has a wide-ranging impact not only on the way that people are conducting business, but also on how they’re living their daily lives as well. It’s a distinct cultural movement, and one that is not going to change any time soon. There is simply too much data out there right now supporting the notion that we are a society that prefers working, learning and consuming via mobile devices. For instance, 58 percent of American adults now own smartphones and this past year, for the first time ever, mobile devices surpassed the desktop as the most popular means of accessing the Internet. Once again, I feel these numbers point to the cultural shift that is currently underway when it comes to mobile usage. If you’re not mobile now, you’re part of the minority, and one that is drastically moving towards extinction as more time passes.

Going hand in hand with the outward prevalence of mobile phones is the personal psychology that is associated with their involvement in every person’s life. For example, 67 percent of mobile users admit to checking their phones for messages, alerts or calls, even when there are no signs that the phone has been contacted in any way. Simply put, our smartphones have become our best buddies. They’ve become our primary means of educating ourselves, amusing ourselves, shopping for ourselves, and (more importantly) working and maintaining relationships.

Now, I realize that this isn’t a sociology blog (hope I didn’t catch you off guard). It’s a blog about the intersection of real estate and technology. However, I think it’s really important to outline just exactly how much mobile devices have infiltrated into our daily lives and how they have, in turn, fostered a new type of culture: one that is constantly on the move, yet simultaneously connected.

So, what does this new culture have to do with the business world? If you’re seriously pondering the validity of that question, please read the title of this piece before going out to purchase yourself a new smartphone. Mobile has ingrained itself in our daily lives, so why on earth would you ever think that transition wouldn’t make its way over into the workforce? A new report by CNBC highlights a survey of executives that found that 70 percent of those polled believed that mobile technology was blurring the lines between business and leisure, with 60 percent saying that they used their mobile device to consume business-related content over the weekend. Some may say that’s a bad thing, but I for one am not opposed to a little extra hard work!

Personally, here’s my vision when it comes to mobile usage and its evolution. If a new piece of technology doesn’t incorporate the same types of capabilities offered by mobile devices, I don’t want anything to do with it at my company. I believe that over the next five years, mostly everything will be running on something mobile. That means only smartphones, laptops, and smartphones that look like laptops. Why is this? It’s because mobile technology allows decentralized businesses (like real estate) to become centralized. It breaks down the communication silo that we have been forced to rail against, everyday, while using more limited, antiquated technology. Mobility allows collaboration to actually be performed, not just talked about. What does that mean? It means that you can unclutter your workday, organize your responsibilities, and service your clients better when you’re not wasting time tethered down by older, inefficient systems.

The main problem that I’m seeing, which served as the genesis for this post, is that the adoption of this “mobile state of mind” is happening far quicker in B2C circles than in B2B ones. Case and point – the most popular way to shop today is not in the store. It’s not online, either. It’s a combination of both. The majority of today’s consumers like to shop in-store, while simultaneously browsing their mobile devices for comparable prices and discount opportunities.

This is the type of incorporation of mobile practices that I would like to see occurring more in the B2B sector, especially in industries like real estate, which are still in the infancy period of adopting the newest forms of technology. For those of you who are resistant out there, no one’s asking you to give up your tried and true methods in favor of technology. I never implied that real estate wasn’t a business about relationships, first and foremost.

That being said, I think you’re kidding yourself if you’re a real estate professional who believes you can get by without adopting with the times. See where that close-minded philosophy gets you. Instead, the best practice, in my opinion, is to use your extensive experience in the business and enhance it through the use of the latest technology. Much in the way that people are shopping more efficiently today, thanks to mixing old and new world philosophies, you can conduct better business by being more organized, more connected and better informed than your competition.

Don’t fear change. Embrace it. Otherwise, the rest of the industry is going to take you out behind the shed and deal with you like the old, rabid dog that you’ve obviously become. There’s not an app for that, either, it’s simply called natural selection.

Coaching Using Technology: Help Me Help You

While there are many roles that new technology has assumed in our workplaces today, in my opinion, one of the most intriguing consequences of modern technology is how it has suddenly made everything much more quantifiable. In past blog posts, I have written at length about how technology has helped to improve workflow, collaboration and visibility amongst team members, therefore enhancing the daily operations of any business that is using these new tools effectively. Going one step further, and as a result of all of the improvement in the aforementioned areas, team members are not only able to work more productively, but their managers are also able to do their jobs much better as well. For instance, let’s use the same parameters as the ones I referenced above. Working in the cloud has ushered today’s workforce into a more collaborative, more transparent, more organized, and much more FUN work environment than has ever existed previously. Team members can all work on the same project, at the same time, using the exact same tools, but from completely different locations!!! Finally, we’re deconstructing the real estate silo effect! They have access to all of the same information, can monitor the work that their fellow teammates contribute as soon as it is completed, and can devise strategies on the best way to proceed moving forward; all as a team.

Now, this is all well and good for the members of a team, but it also benefits the managers (coaches) of these teams as well. For example, gone are the days where team members are relegated to their offices and only drudged up on the occasional basis. In the world of the cloud and collaboration, you’re able to produce and track results all the time, even when you’re not in the office. A coach (manager) can pull up the status of a project anywhere on his/her mobile phone and know in an instant how the team is doing, what kind of help the team needs, what kind of progress is being made, etc.

Now, the coach can be way more proficient in assisting his/her team because they’re equipped with the proper information that they need. This new level of visibility enables them to do that. Bill Parcells had game film, real estate operations now has game film, allowing us to see what we need to see as the coaches of the team. Because of the increased transparency technology offers us, we’re actually given the license to coach, instead of just passively “monitoring” our team members. We can effectively coach their workflow, recognize each member’s strengths and weaknesses, and adjust accordingly on the fly (because that’s where the strength of working in the cloud derives from: flexibility)!

So, thanks to technology in the cloud, we can begin to bid farewell to menial, ridiculous tasks and wastes of time. We have tools that have equipped us with the ability to drive our decision making with the aid of real data. The technology has now put the burden on us to coach more effectively.