Innovation & Reinvention

February 1, 2000

I recently tuned in online to hear Carly Fiorina's keynote speech at COMDEX, the computer industry’s annual mega-expo.

Fiorina, the new CEO of Hewlett Packard, had been on the job barely 100 days when she spoke to the tech-smart crowd. She said her seminal task was to rekindle the spirit of invention at HP (the original "garage" company, as the new HP ads point out), enabling the company to regain its reputation as an innovator.

"My job," she said, "is to keep the best and reinvent the rest."

Fiorina's comments resonated. Innovation and reinvention are concepts much on the minds of real estate industry leaders, brokers, and sales associates these days as the Internet and consumer demands combine to reshape the business of real estate.

Now the debate in the industry has shifted from whether real estate practitioners will have a role in the all-information, all-the-time wired world to what, in fact, that critical role will be. The industry has never been more ripe for and more in need of innovation and reinvention.

Many of you know this, and you’re seizing the opportunities in high-tech and high-touch ways, ranging from personal Web pages to company concierge services. Our cover story this month examines the high-tech aspects of innovation and reinvention: Just how prepared is the industry to sell real estate the "e" way, using the Internet, intranets, and extranets to bring e-commerce to the business of homebuying and homeselling?

Also this month, we explore the growing buzz about online property auctions--another way some in the industry are attempting to innovate and reinvent the business in a wired world. And if you receive our special manager's edition, you’ll get a look at how three "traditional" brokerage companies are committed to making real estate an e-business. (Hint: Anyone can read the story at

No one knows for sure what the transaction of the future will look like, but more parts of the picture come into focus every day. It seems clear that it will combine high tech and high touch. It will involve less time, less paper, and more information access for consumers. And it will bring a new role for REALTORS® as consultants who process information into knowledge for consumers and provide an array of high-value home-related services that build customers for life.

We know that many of you are grappling with how to keep the best of what you do and reinvent the rest. We hope this issue’s emphasis on the "e" of real estate helps you take on the challenge.

Pamela Geurds Kabati is the former publisher of REALTOR® Magazine and senior vice president of communications for the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

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