Discover MLS

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New Version of Discover MLS Deployed!

Tonight, we deployed v2.1.1.149.

Check out the release notes here.

Correction to recent Inman article

In a recent Inman article regarding CRMLS (http://www.inman.com/news/2012/11/28/california-regional-mls-now-serving-more-71000), Art Carter was quoted as saying that, “…compatibility with Apple products in particular was also a factor in CRMLS discontinuing the use of an MLS platform from Discover Software Inc.” Nothing could be further from the truth!

In fact, Discover MLS was the industry’s first truly next-generation web-based system, built from the ground up with a service-oriented architecture to harness the power of both Adobe Flash® and HTML5 with a rich user interface that works in EVERY browser, on EVERY operating system, on EVERY device. Our Adobe Flash® version is accessible on any device that supports Flash, including Windows/ Macintosh/Linux desktops or laptops, as well as smartphones or tablets running Android, WebOS, or PlayBook OS. Further, our groundbreaking HTML5-based mobile version is accessible on ANY smartphone or tablet — iOS (iPhone/iPad), Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry, WebOS, Symbian, and more — with robust features like count-on-the-fly, “smart” text-entry fields, and integration with your native/local mapping app.

Since the inception of our company, we have been committed to shattering industry standards and raising the bar, providing users with leading-edge technology that works seamlessly across the broad, modern spectrum of devices and software platforms. We may not be the largest MLS vendor, but any honest technologist in the industry will tell you that our pioneering success has been a powerful force of change, driving our competitors to spend millions reinventing their antiquated systems in a game of catch-up that we still clearly lead. For example, CRMLS is now providing its members access to CoreLogic’s newest
platform, Fusion, built using the same Adobe Flash® technology that we’ve been using for years.

Even as 2013 approaches, Discover MLS is still the industry’s only production-proven system offering the benefits of both Adobe Flash® and HTML5, for the fastest, richest experience possible no matter where your work takes you. Coupled with ZERO system downtime since our incorporation, we really mean it…enjoy Discover MLS anytime, anywhere!

New Version of Discover MLS Deployed!

Tonight, we deployed v2.1.1.140.

Check out the release notes here.

New version of Discover MLS deployed!

Tonight, we deployed v2.1.1.132.

Check out the release notes here.

New version of Discover MLS deployed!

Tonight, we deployed v2.1.1.128.

Check out the release notes here.

New version of Discover MLS deployed!

Tonight, we deployed v2.1.1.126.

Check out the release notes here.

Anatomy of a Good Installation

You usually only read about the bad installations of new products and services in the Real Estate industry.  As is the norm, most media published tends to be directed towards the bad, failed attempts or negative.  It seems to sell better to the public.

Announcements of new deals and partnerships hardly get read any more, or usually as only a passing gesture to kill time to see who is buying what from whom?

This article is going to be about a successful product launch and about great partnerships and why it should be the norm.

Let’s start with the disruptive event:  Changing from one MLS vendor to a new one, launching a new version of a tax product, elimination of some products and services and the elimination of a critical search component within the MLS.

This all occurred the first week of April in Corpus Christi.  The leadership decided to change from one vendor platform to the Discover MLS platform.  In conjunction with this, they decided to upgrade their Realist tax product to the latest version on the same day.  They also decided to eliminate the use of a forms product, a CRM package and several other ‘linked’ products/services that some of the members were using.  Finally, they took away ‘Area’ from the listing input, reports and search capabilities from the MLS altogether.  This final decision was very political and disruptive enough in most situations to tackle by itself, in my experience.

Guess what?  With fairly nominal negative outcry, it all is working just fine and the members are actually getting over the ‘who moved my cheese’ moment with grace and acceptance.

As the selected vendor for the new MLS system, we entered into this situation with great expectations and some level of trepidation.  Lots of changes being pushed onto a membership all at one time is hard on leadership, but equally as hard on the vendor and their team that is out doing the training for the new system, as they are usually the ones to bear the responsibility of answering all of the questions regarding “WHY?”  Why can’t I search by Areas anymore?  Why do I have to accept the new ‘Terms and Conditions” for the tax system to work?  Why can’t I use the old MLS system anymore?  Why do I have to call a new phone number for support?  Why wasn’t I told this was happening?  No one told me about this!  Why, Why, Why???  Oh, and don’t forget the “Who” question:  Who made these decisions?

So, what went right?  First off, the Corpus Christi Association of Realtors and the Coastal Bend MLS decided months ago to make significant changes in how they were doing business.  They were losing members and money.   Many financial cuts, personnel cuts and services were being evaluated.  It wasn’t easy, but the leadership team came together, made hard decisions with some pretty significant input from users and plotted a course of action.  Then, they stuck to it!  Once most of the hard decisions were made (new MLS vendor, upgraded tax product, elimination of other products and services), work was still ahead of them.  They had to implement.

Three weeks before launch of the new MLS system, they decided to eliminate the ‘Area’ field.  Wow.  MLS vendor has to change the system, and modify our training approach.  However, in all of that, the leadership at Coastal Bend MLS decided to make sure that at least one of its volunteer leaders and one of the staff members would be present at all training sessions.  This was critical.  The ‘why’ and the ‘who’ questions could be addressed by one of their own members, not be vendor training staff who were there to answer the ‘how’ questions.  At no point did any of the sessions get out of control about the ‘why’ and ‘who’ issues and remained focused, allowing the members to actually begin the process of change with real information about how to maintain their business practices.  After all, this new system does everything the old system could, plus much more, just in a different way.  Training was accomplished effectively and efficiently—due to the partnership between vendor and customer.

Don’t get me wrong, things were difficult at times.  If anyone thinks that vendor changes or new product launches of critical services to Real Estate professionals is easy, let them stand in front of a room of anxious users who do not read advance notices (no matter how frequent or how far in advance they were sent out) about ‘exporting their contacts into a CSV file’ and become “ALARMED” and see what happens!  Reactions are either downright angry or hilarious!  As an example, one user claimed, with 10 days left to accomplish this simple feat, that ‘she couldn’t possibly find the time’ to export her 38 clients.

The point of all of this:  There IS an effective way to accomplish significant change and implementation of ‘disruptive’ product rollouts in the Real Estate industry without angry blogs and social networking sites getting blown up.  It involves strong leadership and great partnerships (not just legal documents) with vendors and communications with the users.  It takes flexibility on all parts (the MLS ‘Areas’ discussed here were left as a map overlay for those users who just couldn’t function without them), and it takes courage to do the things that you know have to be done.

New version of Discover MLS deployed!

Tonight, we deployed v2.1.1.112.

Check out the full release notes here.

New version of Discover MLS deployed!

Tonight, we deployed v2.1.1.106.

Check out the full release notes here.

Discover Sync: raising the bar for MLS data conversions

It’s not always about technology.  In fact, I love to say that Discover is, above all else, a customer service company…and only a technology company secondarily.  But sometimes we can leverage technology to really improve customer service in a big way, and those are sweet moments indeed.  This is one of those.  Feel it?

As promised, a test site is available for the Corpus Christi committee responsible for testing & evaluation of the new Discover software prior to cutover.  On this site, the data is synchronized from MLXchange in near real-time, so it’s possible to do side-by-side comparison of agents, offices, and listings to ensure the conversion is thorough and accurate.  We will now spend several weeks working with Corpus leadership to resolve any conversion flaws, and when it’s time to cut over in April, there will be no scary, final data conversion.  Rather, the Discover system will have been up & running — and vetted — well in advance.

Some vendors call this “running parallel”.  Although that term is typically reserved for a case where the MLS allows all of its users to access the new system for some time prior to cutover, the workload for the vendor is the same either way…whether 10 or 10000 users bang away on the parallel system, the data has to be converted and kept in sync, and that’s the hard part.  Make no mistake, it is hard.

Our philosophy, however, is that the extra effort up front is worth its weight in gold, since it’s a lot easier for a customer to test a new system in advance when the data is current and the new site can actually be used for day-to-day work.  Duh.  It’s not like we’re the first to comprehend that.  In fact, it’s why almost any vendor will offer parallel when they can afford to do so.  But, because it’s so challenging, it’s usually only offered to the largest MLS’s.  Not any more!

Discover is proud to offer a “data sync” approach for every MLS conversion we ever do again, regardless of size.  In fact, if your current vendor will provide us access to other types of data in RETS (such as clients, auto-prospecting searches, etc), we will even sync that.  Why?  Because we can.  Our extraordinary toolset makes this possible at the same cost for most vendors to do a traditional data conversion.  And more importantly, I would argue: because we should!

You can choose to offer your fully-synchronized test system to just a committee or task force of agents who will represent your membership, or you can choose to expose the system to your entire membership.  Either way, we’ll back it with sufficient hardware to handle the load, even before launch.

Doesn’t the industry deserve this kind of customer service?  If you’re going to switch MLS systems in 2012, shouldn’t you expect it?  Why on earth would you do a conversion without it?!