A company decides to develop a tech product – developers disappear into a hole to design it, while consumers anxiously await its release. Once the first iteration of the product is available, it is riddled with bugs, requiring many fixes before it can run smoothly.
This is the traditional software development route, and one Keller Williams isn’t taking. Instead, the tech company has broken away from the conventional with “Labs.”
“Labs is a program where we invite our 160,000-plus agents to come build software with us,” explains Josh Team, chief innovation officer for Keller Williams Realty International (KWRI). “We ask them fundamental questions like, ‘what do you need to be successful?’ or ‘how can we double your revenue?’ Their answers go into Labs, where agents build products, they play with them, and then they tell our team how to improve.”
Right now, Labs participants are testing and collaborating with KWRI development teams on technology within the Keller Cloud. The platform is comprised of products that will collect agent, transaction, and client data, allowing agents to effortlessly run and grow their businesses. Essentially, the Labs program is designed to easily build and scale new Keller Cloud technologies and remove any large functional design changes.
“The methodology parallels the way Google and Amazon run their innovation labs, but we have tailored it to fit real estate,” shares Adi Pavlovic, technology strategist at KWRI. “What’s unique about what we’re doing is that not only are we implementing it across a business-to-business-to-consumer framework, but [we] are doing it at a large scale. I can confidently say that no one in real estate is doing this at the scale we are.”
The approach is quickly resonating with the KW community. “This is what I have wanted for my business for 33 years,” shares Thomas Baker.
Saundra Kandler, market center administrator at Fort Mill, expresses her gratitude for the program.
“The Keller Williams [Realty International] team is doing an awesome job of keeping us informed as products develop. They are changing lives by staying focused on the best interest[s] of our agents.”
How Labs Works
- An initial Lab group tells us a problem they want solved and describes the experience they expect.
- We take those insights and build a solution, or product.
- Our associates then test that product and provide direct feedback.
- Using this feedback as our guide, we continually refine the product with our associates.
- As the product matures, we add more people to the Lab and continue the process until our agents decide the product is ready for general availability.
Agents are also able to view, in real time, what tools are in the pipeline, key features, and countries of availability on the Labs Dashboard.
Pavlovic concludes that Labs gives Keller Williams a competitive advantage while staying true to the company’s collaborative culture.
“With Labs, we can ideate, incubate and validate products at an incredibly fast pace, allowing us to play a large role in the modernization of the industry. It’s also our opportunity to work together with our agents. It’s a true testament to the culture of Keller Williams.”
Get Involved in Labs
Go to KWConnect, an exclusive training and education platform, to learn more about Labs and how to get involved.