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Data Wars, Data Wars, Data Wars

big dataI always find it ironic when data vendors battle one another on who has the most data. With biased opinions, amateur shots, and swords and shields at the ready, data vendors are relentless when it comes to asserting who has the most data. The irony is that, while these data wars are happening, these data vendors should drop their armor and data expansion efforts and begin helping clients implement those large sets of data in more meaningful ways. As a cofounder of Onboard Informatics, a real estate information company, I speak to you from the front lines.

Real estate companies today will not get far if they have no data on their platform. They also won’t get far if they have all the data in the world and the absence of an implementation strategy. The majority of these companies go to data vendors not hoping to obtain the most data, but for robust and efficient solutions that answer major business questions such as “How will I obtain traffic?”, “How will I retain traffic?”, and “How will I convert traffic into profitable and satisfied clients?”.

When observing these data wars, the thing to remember is that critical business questions are not solved by data alone. They’re solved by advanced, innovative, and engaging data implementations. The separation between plainly listing local weather data on your platform and plunging that weather data at homebuyers as you have them freefall from an aerial view to a listing’s street view (like Allstate’s GoodHome does) is huge. Similarly, the difference between listing your IDX data in a framed plug-and-play box and having that IDX implemented on separate landing pages that are recognized and picked up by search engines can mean the difference between obtaining traffic and losing it to the competitor who did have an implementation strategy.

There is an infinite amount of data in circulation, so having the most data does not impress me unless that data is used to effectively solve realtors’ business problems. Every piece of data real estate companies invest in must become a decision support mechanism for their home shoppers or else all their home shoppers will see is irrelevant numbers. Therefore, it’s meaningless for data vendors to fight to the death on who has the most data when they could be working with their clients to create innovative implementations. A vendor’s amount of data shouldn’t convert prospective realtors more than the implementation strategy because realtors very well know if they told home shoppers, “I have the most data on the block, I just don’t know how to implement it”, that data war would be lost very quickly.

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About Marc Siden

Co-Founder and CEO of Onboard Informatics, the real estate data provider used by 8 of today’s top 10 real estate brokerages. He brings 20+ years of years of diverse technology, information services, and real estate industry experience.

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  • Gabe Sanders

    Nothing is as dangerous as data in the hands of the uninformed. It’s the interpretation of accurate data that is the key to meaningful information.

  • Implementation is critical. I chuckle (to myself) everything anyone tells me they have information/feature X and all they have to do is put it on the website and people will come. They won’t. Data/Information is a dime a dozen. If you can’t use data to solve a fundamental pain point, in an intuitive way, it’s useless…and will be a complete waste of money.

  • Julie Beall

    Wow, someone is finally talking my language. The data wars topic is old school to most industries around the world except ours and a few other “protect the data at all cost” industries. As an information economy and that is where our economy is heading we are only capturing and using 15% of the data with 85% to still be lassoed and managed back to the barn. Yes it is and will be the wild wild west of information gathering and data interpretation. There is so much opportunity ahead for those who understand where we are going and make a plan now. I talk about this to as many people as I can but too many times their eyes glaze over. A few however get it, like you Marc.

  • Marc, your quote about irrelevant numbers is something I have been thinking about. Maybe you could do a blog post about what is relevant outside of the scope of the normal data that comes from the MLS.
    I have a RETS feed plus the tax records plus the neighborhood boundaries. I use outbound links to Google Maps,, Tax Records, School Rankings and School Websites, Commuting Times, etc.
    I was looking at the very long RPR report and trying to figure out what data on that report is relevant that I don’t already show on my website, and could not really find anything.
    Please think about a blog post on what data is useful outside of the data I mentioned above. It would be great to know.
    PS Regarding your comment about the weather data I am not sure I agree that changing the presentation made the weather data more interesting. Whether one uses large fonts, colored fonts, dancing fonts, or displays it while plunging from the sky, the data is the same.
    In the case of today’s weather, I don’t see that as helpful for a buyer. It is not something they will normally say look, it is XX degrees there today, maybe we should buy another home. They might be interested in average year round temps if they are considering a move to another state, but today’s weather does not really give them the big picture.

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