Or thought of another way, when you look at the innovations in the industry today — whether mobile apps, CRM technologies, social media, RPR, or whatever — you might ask, “What part of the industry does this innovation destroy?”
If the answer is “none”, then that thing, whatever it is, is not innovation. It is, rather, incremental improvement; a marginal gain in efficiency. It isn’t the automobile, but faster horses.
It seems to me that the corollary of “if it doesn’t destroy, it isn’t innovative” is that the degree of innovation is related to the degree of destructive potential.
So where would some of the recent much-discussed innovations rank on the “Shiva Scale” — the degree to which said innovation would destroy one or more parts of the real estate industry? Let’s say the Shiva Rank goes from 1 to 10 where 1 might be “as harmless as a baby bunny” and 10 might be “thermonuclear bombardment from orbit”. Where would some of the recent innovations rank?
It goes without saying that these are just random thoughts on a blog, rather than a professional opinion formed after research and analysis. So sure, let’s discuss, argue, disagree even — but understand the context, mmmkay?
I’m going to start witha few randomly chosen NAR Game Changer award winners. (Note: I’m not picking on NAR here; they should be lauded for doing the Game Changer program at all. But assigning Shiva Scale to the winners is an interesting exercise, and there are few good lists of “innovations” in real estate anyhow.) The descriptions are taken directly from the NAR site:
Front Porch: Shiva Rank = 1
Engage the REALTOR®, homeowner, contemporary consumer and community in dialogue to activate positive interactions that enhance the role, value, qualities and stature of great neighborhoods in the overall community dynamic.
Comment: I can’t think of a single thing that Front Porch threatens, nevermind destroys. It’s a nice initiative, but harmless as a baby bunny to the industry.
Heroes Welcome Home: Shiva Rank = 1
Assist members in developing professional skills, unite the public community, enhance the REALTOR® image and provide support with other community groups.
Comment: Another very nice initiative, very well thought-out, and just the right thing to do. Threatens absolutely no one.
Regional Alliances: Shiva Rank = 3
Create a framework for meaningful cooperation among contiguous Associations while keeping each one separate and autonomous.
Comment: The CACR (Community Association of Chicagoland REALTORS) is a good move on the part of the participating Associations. Pooling resources and leveraging each other’s expertise are wonderful ways to increase benefits. I rate it a 3 because the seeds of a straight-up consolidation are planted here, and some jobs will be lost through this — that’s how consolidation saves money after all. But it isn’t a serious threat to any major part of the industry.
REALTOR® Finder: Shiva Rank = 6
To build a program for use on a public facing web site which will allow consumers to see which Realtors are assisting buyers and/or sellers in the consumer’s chosen market area.
Comment: This particular program has been talked about on the Interwebs already. In and of itself, it’s not that big a deal: publishing an agent’s productivity data to consumers is a rather useful tool for consumers and for some agents (or most agents, if you believe Marc Davison). Nonetheless, I rate it a 6 on the Shiva Scale because the implication for brokerage could be significant. More that consumers go direct from MLS to an agent, the less value a broker provides to his agents.
Auxiliary Membership: Shiva Rank = 7
Differentiate the REALTOR® in the marketplace, engage consumers in legislation affecting private property rights, heighten awareness of consumers of civic work done by REALTORS® and give Members a valuable marketing tool.
Comment: This program is similar to NAR’s HouseLogic.com initiative, because it is an attempt to harness the political power of homeowners. It’s a significant initiative that could transform the industry completely. I wrote about HouseLogic on Inman.com back in November (subscription only), but the long and short of it is, if REALTOR Associations (local, state, national) manage to activate and harness the political power of homeowners, they can begin the work of transforming the meaning of what it means to be a REALTOR — and through greater political power, change licensing requirements significantly. It is not, I think, out of the question to think that the number of licensed real estate agents could be halved, then halved again, if only the Associations could gain enough political clout via homeowners.
Seems like the random sampling ranges from completely harmless to possibly transformative. For what it’s worth, here are my ratings for some of the other things we’ve all talked about and seen recently:
RPR: Shiva Rank = 9
This initiative will provide access to a national database of real property information and will give real estate professionals the best access to real property information needed to serve their clients and customers. It will include in-depth, trusted information on every parcel of real property including public record information, details of prior transactions, MLS-provided information, zoning information, transfer tax information, and other relevant information.
Comment: My feelings on the RPR are, I think, fairly well documented at this point. I believe it’s a great piece of software that has already caused a civil war in the industry, drawn new battle lines, and created new alliances amongst some of the most powerful firms in real estate. If RPR is successful, it will destroy the MLS, as surely as the Internet destroyed newspapers; indeed, if RPR is to be successful in its current incarnation, it must destroy the MLS. That’s innovation, folks.
Google Real Estate Pages: Shiva Rank = 8
We also wanted to tell you about the integration of real estate listings with Place Pages. Now clicking the “more info” link next to a listing takes you to a faster, easier-to-read page that gives you all of the information we have about a listing: photos, inspection times, videos, details, a Street View preview and nearby public transit information if available, allowing you to quickly find the listing you want and click through to the sources of the listing.
Comment: As implemented currently, the Google Real Estate Pages only ranks about a 5 on the Shiva Scale. It might have an impact on large vertical search engines, but probably not even there… yet. But with a couple of small tweaks, this thing has the potential to destroy enormous segments of the industry: national real estate websites, large brokerages, major franchises, indeed, IDX itself are all threatened by Google. It is probably a good thing for the industry that Google doesn’t regard real estate search as a big enough problem for it to solve.
I could probably go on and do Shiva rankings for a number of things. In fact, anytime something new is announced, it might be interesting to give it a Shiva rating, based on the criteria of, “How much destruction could this thing cause?”
So… what do you think? The ratings wrong? Other innovations you’d care to stack up to the Shiva Scale to see how they fare? Or is the whole notion of the Shiva Scale a load of bull hockey?
PS: Bonus points for identifying the 80’s reference.