The idea that technology is a means to an end and not an end in itself is nothing new. In fact, Admiral Rickover – responsible for development of naval nuclear propulsion – was quoted as saying this back in 1964 and the same is just as true today.
Some leaders believe that to be perceived as innovative and forward thinking, they must adopt the latest technology, and we’ve all experienced FOMO after attending a conference where it seems as if everyone is using artificial intelligence, blockchain or some other cutting edge software. It’s easy to think that we’re getting left behind.
The truth is, the power of technology is not in being the first to jump on board the latest buzzword, but rather, zeroing in on how it can be used to solve customer problems.
Take the example of smart contracts executed on the Ethereum blockchain. Enough technology buzzwords in there for you? The REIQ has partnered with an organisation to execute tenancy agreements using that technology, however the choice to utilise these tools had nothing to do with the technology itself. We did not set out to find a use case for blockchain, and we did not set out to find some cool technology so we could be considered innovative. We set out to make Queensland the best place in the world for transacting real estate.
Our existing forms platform, Realworks, executes over 5 million forms per year and not all of those are going to need to be executed using a smart contract. In fact, very few will. However, for things like tenancy agreements, where you have bond payments, rent payments, renewals, utility connections, maintenance requests, smoke alarm compliance and so on, we needed a technology that would not just execute the document digitally and then store it.
We needed a technology that would take the administrative burden away from both tenants and property managers, as well as managing each of those elements and keeping all of the data live after executing.
A smart contract is a contract that is aware of itself. Although it sounds a little science-fiction, when you think about the construct of a tenancy agreement (and many other contracts) it revolves around a few key obligations. Smart contracts have little software applications that manage, monitor and execute those obligations. For example, take a tenancy agreement that has an obligation for the property manager to do an inspection every six months.
A smart contract application can be developed to start up one month before the inspection is due and automatically books that inspection into the diary of the property manager, populates and sends an email with those details to the tenant and then goes back to sleep. Then, one day prior to the inspection it might wake up again to retrieve the last inspection report and email it to the property manager with a reminder of the time of the inspection the following day.
So many minor tasks can be completed without any manual intervention, which significantly reduces the time it takes to administer a rental property, creates a seamless and transparent user experience for the tenant and provides invaluable insight and cost savings to a real estate business. It’s the best tool for the job, not just a cool tool.
The question you need to ask is how can we make doing business with us easier for our customers? Get really specific about what that would look like and then, IF technology is required, find a technology that best solves that problem.