What is BIG DATA?


Unless you’ve been living underneath a rock for the past few years, then you have probably heard the BIG DATA word tossed around a ton over the last year. So what does big data really mean? I recently had the opportunity to sit in on a Data Strategies session lead by Todd Carpenter to hopefully shed some light on how big data is being used in our industry. During the session, representatives from Altos Research, Sindeo, CRT Labs, and Realtor.com® spoke about how they are using data collected within their respective companies. Before I dive into how a few of these companies are using the data they are collecting, it is important to understand what big data really is.

Big data is simply a collection of data that allows its collector to plan, execute, measure, and provide feedback and gives the collector a strategic approach to functionality. It has been proven that companies and organizations with higher level of strategic thinking outperform others. So essentially, this means that those who collect and analyze others have a competitive edge over their competition. During this session we learned a wee bit about the role of a data strategist and how they contribute to the success of a company. Data strategists collect and analyze data so companies can measure their work and aides in an organization in achieving their goals.

Before you start a data collecting mission, it will be important to ask yourself a few questions both before and after reviewing data delivered. These questions will ensure your data collecting and analyzing efforts reap you the most rewards. Here are few questions to ponder asking:

  • Does the work you are doing feed the strategy or propel the organization to ensure it achieves its goals in the future?
  • What are the strategic objectives of the firm?
  • What projects can I work on that relates to our strategy?
  • How are we going to measure our own performance?
  • How can our research inform the strategy making process?

So now that you have a grasp on what big data means, let’s take a look at a few companies and how they are using data within their walls or how they are helping consumers interpret data.

Matt Cornett, a Data Strategist with Sindeo, stated they collect data to create situational awareness so no one is in the dark. This is music to my real estate broker ears as often mortgage companies leave all parties to the transaction, including the client, in the dark through the mortgage process. The data collected by Sindeo provides with them actionable intelligence so everyone in their operation knows what is going on around them, including those in various other departments within the company. Once the most recent data collection triggers, they have engaged a TRID alert that alerts a few days prior to important TRID deadlines. This ensures processors, loan officers, and other relevant staff are proactive rather than reactive allowing for a carefree and seamless client experience.

The various other data collected also helps them function far beyond the transaction as their CRM, phone system, loan origination platform, pricing engine, and marketing automation platform are all interlinked making them talk-able to one another. This linkage allows any associate within their company to have a center view of the customer in order to nurture and market appropriately. They believe this creates situational awareness so all clients and staff are constantly on the same page, but more importantly, it creates a data culture with both a top down and the bottom up approach. How many mortgage companies do you know that think beyond the real estate transaction so they many provide extraordinary service? I personally don’t know too many that take collecting data to a level it makes the client experience superior. If Sindeo offers mortgage solutions in your marketplace, I’d suggest giving them a whirl.

Chris Curry with CRT Labs (Center for Realtor Technology) brought a whole lot of geekiness to the session and when I say a whole lot, I mean a TON. Anytime I hear anyone mumble home automation or data my ears suddenly perk. The uber nerds at CRT Labs have created wickedly geek code that gives homeowners the ability to track an array of information when linking a home automation system. Think about your clients who are new parents of a newborn and want their CO2 tracked on a daily basis, then this collection of data will be highly of interest to them. You’ve probably had that client who is more concerned with power consumption than they are with the layout of the house or the color of the counter tops… again, this information will be highly interesting. If you have clients who use Alexa or Echo home automation or EcoBee3, Nest, Honeywell Lyric, or Zen Thermostats, then you should familiarize yourself with CRT Labs and their offers due to the data that can be provided to current and future your clients.

Now, I really want to collect tons of data! How about you?

First-Time Featured Attendee

When Jennifer Archambeault is not using her wide range of talents to market or close the next real estate deal, you will find her leveraging her technology expertise to her team of agents at Urban Provision, REALTORS®.



Thanks for your post. If you would allow me to add, a Company with a bunch (ton as you say) of Data that’s not normalized and ready to be analyzed is no better off than a Company with No Data At All.

Which brings up a very interesting point. Normalizing Data is a very difficult process. Picture a tanker truck full of Jelly Bellies as a ‘ton of Data’. It would be a relatively simple chore to sort all the colors and think you have data that can be analyzed, but you don’t. That’s because all Reds are not cherry! And all the cherry is not just cherry, there’s sour cherry, cherry limeade, cherry coke, and bing cherry. Oh, and some people call sour cherry, tart cherry and others call it Cherry Tart. That one piece of data, ‘Red’, must first be normalized so that it’s input correctly; that is, everyone calling it the same thing. Then, and only then, does it become valuable.

This is why, for the most part, real estate data is so VALUABLE. It’s already NORMALIZED! 1Br is always 1 Bedroom and so on. Why do you think Rupert Murdoch paid almost a Billion Dollars for REALTOR.com? He bought normalized Data, a shortcut for the Data Scientists to write and apply algorithms so that the data tells them things they didn’t know before.

I’ve studied and written extensively on Big Data with a great deal of excitement for the last five years. The Analyzation of Big Data has already and will continue to change our world, especially since the Data Collection Points are happening exponentially with the IoT (Internet of Things).

It’s a fact that the amount of data collected in the last two years exceeds all the data we had previously collected since the beginning of time. At my presentation at the NAR 2010 convention in New Orleans, I said that if ABC, CBS, and NBC had everything they’ve created on video since 1949, it would not equal the amount of video uploaded to YouTube this year. That was 5 years ago! Today it would not equal the amount of video uploaded to YouTube in the last 2 Days! (Per Gartner, the worlds leading technology consulting company.)

“By 2020, we’ll look back and wonder how we made so many decisions with so little information.” Rossi

Keep Smiling, Rossi a REALTOR© since 1971

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