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					                                            Microsoft Technology Center
                                            Customer Solution Case Study




                                            Real Estate Giant Engages Homebuyers with
                                            Innovative Solution, Interactive Computer



Overview                                    ―Our Microsoft Surface–based solution is a powerful
Country or Region: United States
Industry: Professional services—Real        addition to what makes Coldwell Banker different …
estate                                      and the MTC experience helped make it all possible
Customer Profile                            within a very short period of time.‖
Parsippany, New Jersey–based
                                                              David Marine, Director of Products and Innovation, Coldwell Banker
Coldwell Banker Real Estate is a full-
service real estate provider with more      Coldwell Banker Real Estate wanted to expand the ways in which
than 3,300 offices in 47 countries and
100,000 affiliated agents and brokers.      customers start down the home-buying path. Building on its
                                            belief in using technological innovations to their fullest, the
Business Situation
Coldwell Banker wanted to infuse            company decided to pursue a solution using the Microsoft®
greater excitement into the way that        Surface® touch-computing platform. Early in the solution‘s
homebuyers engage with its real estate
agents, conduct searches of its listings,   research-and-development stage, the company‘s digital media
and perceive the home-buying                partner, FD Kinesis, attended an Architecture Design Session at a
experience.
                                            Microsoft Technology Center. There, FD Kinesis validated its
Solution                                    ideas and gained access to resources that would help the firm
With help from the Microsoft®
Technology Center, Coldwell Banker          complete the project in time for Coldwell Banker to unveil it at
and partner FD Kinesis worked with          its annual conference. Although not yet available for purchase
Vectorform to create an interactive
property-search solution for the            by the company‘s franchisees, the solution has attracted
Microsoft Surface® computer.                considerable attention from agents and homebuyers alike,
Benefits                                    revitalizing the home-buying process and providing a
 Access to resources                       competitive edge for Coldwell Banker and its agents.
 Time savings
 Fast time-to-market
 Intuitive, innovative solution
Situation                                    So, Coldwell Banker set out to bring
In business since 1906, Coldwell Banker      comprehensive data—including
Real Estate is the oldest residential real   information about each real estate
estate organization in the United States     listing‘s nearby schools, hospitals, parks,
and has approximately 3,300                  and other neighborhood amenities—to
independently owned and operated real        users in a new and different way. ―We
estate offices throughout the United         wanted to go beyond the office and the
States, Canada, Mexico, Central America,     Web site and bring more life and user
the Caribbean, Singapore, and Europe.        interaction to the home-buying process,‖
The company was founded on a                 says Galasso.
commitment to professionalism and
customer service that continues to serve     The company and its digital agency of
as the core of its business philosophy.      record, FD Kinesis, developed the
                                             foundation for a self-service solution that
Delivering superior customer service         generates an itinerary for customers
involves finding new, more convenient        based on the homes they want to see
ways for customers to buy and sell real      and signs them up to receive alerts
estate. ―Coldwell Banker has a proud         about homes with certain attributes. ―We
history of innovation,‖ says Helen           created application programming
Galasso, Vice President, Interactive, for    interfaces [APIs] for views into a lot of
Coldwell Banker Real Estate. ―We were        Coldwell Banker data and had several
the first to have a Web site with property   applications using them,‖ says Thomas
listings, first to make our listings         Gamble, Managing Director of
available on mobile phones, and first to     Technology for FD Kinesis. These
offer video of online listings, among        applications could be used on everything
other industry milestones.‖                  from a mobile phone to an interactive
                                             billboard in Times Square in New York
And Coldwell Banker isn‘t done               City. ―We wanted to use a single set of
innovating. It continues to take             Web services to extend the APIs to many
advantage of new technologies to             media types so that Coldwell Banker
enhance customers‘ experiences with the      could add value in a number of ways for
company. According to Galasso, that          its customers.‖
tradition of improvement is especially
important in a faltering economy. ―In        Solution
uncertain economic times like these,         Inspiration struck when Coldwell Banker
successful companies are those that          attended a conference during which the
don‘t let circumstances stop them from       Microsoft® Surface® touch-computing
doing what they do best and adding to        platform was demonstrated. ―As soon as
the value associated with their brand,‖      we saw Microsoft Surface, we
says Galasso. ―For Coldwell Banker, that     immediately said, ‗This is perfect for real
means continuing our pursuit of              estate! It has the capability to
innovations that are useful to               fundamentally change the way people
homebuyers and franchisees, and              embark on the search for a new home,‘‖
making them natural extensions of our        says David Marine, Director of Products
existing offerings.‖                         and Innovation for Coldwell Banker Real
                                             Estate.
―Everyone from Coldwell                   When multiple people gather to use a           Architecture Design Session at the New
                                          Microsoft Surface computer, their multi-       York MTC in September 2008. ―I didn‘t
Banker walked out of the                  finger touches, hand gestures, and             know what to expect,‖ recalls Gamble. ―I
                                          objects placed on the screen‘s surface all     was impressed with the MTC facilities
MTC even more excited                     trigger digital responses and create a fun     and expert resources that we were given
and confident than                        and different way for them to                  access to.‖
                                          collaboratively and simultaneously
before—it was definitely                  interact with data and each other.             Coldwell Banker fully supported the
                                                                                         choice by FD Kinesis to seek assistance
an energizing                             Coldwell Banker wanted to put Microsoft        from Microsoft. ―We set a tough deadline
experience.‖                              Surface computers to use in unusual            and thought it was a great idea for FD
                                          locations—such as malls, resorts, and          Kinesis to gather input from Microsoft
 David Marine, Director of Products and   hotel lobbies—to attract interest in its       experts as to how to develop the right
           Innovation, Coldwell Banker
                                          real estate offerings. ―We considered          solution most quickly,‖ says Marine.
                                          Microsoft Surface as revolutionary
                                          technology meeting practical reality, and      At the MTC, FD Kinesis discussed its
                                          we wanted to capitalize on the appeal of       goals for the solution, seeking expert
                                          such an engaging device,‖ says Marine.         guidance. An MTC architect led an in-
                                                                                         depth session about Microsoft Surface
                                          The company first investigated Microsoft       computing, including the specifics of
                                          Surface to ensure that there was plenty        design and coding for Microsoft Surface,
                                          of functionality supporting the device‘s       information about using Microsoft
                                          initial attraction. ―It was clear to us that   Expression® Studio software, and
                                          we wouldn‘t be using technology for            planning and guidelines for the project.
                                          technology‘s sake with Microsoft               The FD Kinesis team learned that it
                                          Surface,‖ says Marine. ―The device‘s           would be possible to use powerful
                                          usability alone cannot be beaten.‖             animation to bring real-estate data to life
                                                                                         and present it in an attractive way to
                                          Having decided to pursue a Microsoft           users, all by building on existing Coldwell
                                          Surface–based solution, Coldwell Banker        Banker APIs and using the Microsoft
                                          was determined to showcase it at the           Surface Software Development Kit (SDK).
                                          company‘s annual conference for agents         ―We had no formal plans going in,‖ says
                                          and brokers, which was just a few              Gamble. ―We talked about what we
                                          months away. That timeline put extra           wanted to achieve, such as giving people
                                          pressure on FD Kinesis to build a solution     the ability to use a finger on a map to
                                          using technology with which the firm           remove listings out of contention. We
                                          had little experience. ―Time was definitely    didn‘t know how much animation we
                                          a factor,‖ says Gamble. ―We needed             could add or to what extent we could
                                          assurance that we could achieve what we        use it.‖ The MTC architect helped clarify
                                          wanted to with the technology because          goals and establish a strategy as to how
                                          we couldn‘t afford to go down the wrong        to proceed to deliver the best solution
                                          path.‖                                         for the proposed timeline.

                                          Expert Technical Assistance                    FD Kinesis also attended a full
                                          Help came in the form of the Microsoft         demonstration of the product‘s
                                          Technology Center (MTC). FD Kinesis            capabilities at the MTC Envisioning
                                          accepted an invitation to attend an            Center. Afterward, MTC architects and FD
                                                                                 ID tags, and the MTC architects helped
                                                                                 us figure out the best way to do so.‖
                                                                                 FD Kinesis gained so much insight from
                                                                                 its MTC experience that it invited
                                                                                 Coldwell Banker to come for a Strategy
                                                                                 Briefing at the MTC, where attendees
                                                                                 learned what other companies had been
                                                                                 doing with Microsoft Surface. ―Our MTC
                                                                                 engagement gave us the chance to talk
                                                                                 with two expert Microsoft Surface
                                                                                 developers, who confirmed our vision
                                                                                 and made valuable suggestions as to
                                                                                 actions we should take to achieve it,‖
                                                                                 says Marine. ―Everyone from Coldwell
                                                                                 Banker walked out of the MTC even
                                                                                 more excited and confident than
                                                                                 before—it was definitely an energizing
                                                                                 experience.‖

                                                                                 MTC architects also aided overall efforts
                                                                                 by introducing FD Kinesis to Vectorform,
Figure 1. Property seekers can   Kinesis graphic designers brainstormed          a Microsoft partner with considerable
    use Coldwell Banker Real     different ways to use Microsoft Surface         experience in developing solutions for
    Estate Search to see a       to generate the kind of excitement that         Microsoft Surface. After FD Kinesis
    detailed view of potential   Coldwell Banker sought. ―We learned             designed the interactive real estate
    properties and their         that, essentially, the sky‘s the limit,‖ says   solution, Vectorform took the design and
                                 Gamble. ―Our MTC experience validated           the existing APIs and applied them to
    surroundings.
                                 that we could produce the effects that          Microsoft Surface, which is built on
                                 we wanted to produce.‖                          familiar developer technologies, making
                                                                                 for straightforward development. ―The
                                 One of the specific challenges that FD          introduction to Vectorform was key in
                                 Kinesis brought to the MTC had to do            our ability to meet the aggressive project
                                 with scalability. For the upcoming              completion goal,‖ says Gamble.
                                 conference, Coldwell Banker wanted
                                 each agent and broker to have a special         A Successful Debut
                                 identification tag. The goal was that,          In February 2009, Coldwell Banker
                                 when agents and brokers placed their            debuted its Microsoft Surface–based
                                 tags on the Microsoft Surface computer,         solution—known as Coldwell Banker Real
                                 it would immediately produce a custom           Estate Search—at its annual conference,
                                 set of that person‘s work profile,              as scheduled. In terms of functionality,
                                 including his or her complete contact           the solution provides detailed listing
                                 details and up-to-date property listings.       information about properties that are
                                 ―Up until then, the largest number of           available in any neighborhood in the
                                 unique IDs that any company had used            United States and Canada (see Figure 1).
                                 with Microsoft Surface was only a few           Users can search for properties, view
                                 hundred,‖ says Gamble. ―We needed to            amenity information, send e-mail
                                 be able to accommodate thousands of             messages to themselves about
"We would have needed                  properties of interest, create itineraries    offer. Says Marine, ―We at Coldwell
                                       that compile relevant properties, and         Banker really feel that the Microsoft
to add another 30 to 60                schedule an appointment with an agent         Surface computer and the solution we
                                       to see specific properties. Coldwell          developed for it gives us the opportunity
days to our timeline                   Banker plans to gradually add other           to make looking for real estate a more
without the MTC                        countries to its solution.                    social experience, encourages people to
                                                                                     literally touch real estate in a whole new
experience to guide us."               Conference participants were                  way, and serves as a strong competitive
                                       immediately drawn to the device. ―One         differentiator for Coldwell Banker.
 Thomas Gamble, Managing Director of
              Technology, FD Kinesis   after another, our agents experienced         Ultimately, because it will have a positive
                                       quite a ‗wow‘ moment when they                impact on the customer experience, it
                                       spotted the Microsoft Surface computer,       will also have a positive effect on our
                                       followed my instruction to place their ID     return on investment.‖
                                       tags on it, and saw their personalized
                                       data pop up instantly,‖ recalls Marine.       Access to Resources
                                       ―And after conducting some searches           Coldwell Banker and FD Kinesis
                                       and other interactions with it, at least 20   benefitted not only from the ideas and
                                       of our Coldwell Banker franchise owners       expertise of MTC architects but also from
                                       told me that they‘re anxious to buy a         an introduction to partners who could
                                       device and use the solution that we‘ve        accelerate the project‘s timeline. ―Part of
                                       developed.‖                                   our job is to keep Coldwell Banker on the
                                                                                     cutting edge of interactive technology,
                                       Coldwell Banker plans to make Coldwell        and the MTC engagement made that
                                       Banker Real Estate Search available for       effort a whole lot easier,‖ says Gamble.
                                       franchisees in 2010, after it adds some       ―Plus, through it, we found a
                                       functionality and makes a few usability       development partner that aided us in
                                       adjustments based on user feedback.           that process.‖
                                       Planned additions include a mobile
                                       component and enhanced visual search          Additionally, FD Kinesis used its time at
                                       capabilities.                                 the MTC to discover whether its goals
                                                                                     were achievable. ―Going to the MTC was
                                       Benefits                                      wonderful because it provided us with a
                                       The MTC experience helped FD Kinesis          no-cost way to thoroughly explore the
                                       define and validate its solution, trim        possibilities,‖ says Gamble. ―There was
                                       weeks off the project timeline, and find      absolutely no barrier to entry—we
                                       the resources that it needed to meet its      basically went through our discovery
                                       customer‘s expectations. ―Because we          process for free, with true experts to
                                       were dealing with unfamiliar technology,      point the way.‖
                                       we definitely would have stumbled on
                                       our own,‖ says Gamble. ―The MTC helped        Time Savings
                                       us build a more accurate solution and         Both Coldwell Banker and FD Kinesis
                                       undertake the project with a clearer idea     credit their experience at the MTC with
                                       of what could be done.‖                       shortening the overall project timeline,
                                                                                     which was important because of the
                                       Coldwell Banker now has a creative way        looming conference date. ―Interacting
                                       to introduce potential customers to all       with the technology firsthand at the MTC
                                       that the company and its agents have to       alongside FD Kinesis saved both time
―We were surprised,                       and effort,‖ says Marine. ―Seeing            To date, the company‘s hypothesis that
                                          applications for Microsoft Surface that a    using Microsoft Surface would
because we thought that                   variety of other high-profile companies      encourage impromptu interactions has
                                          had developed gave us a better               been confirmed. Using the device has
there‘d be some sort of                   understanding of the best practices to       attracted a lot of attention for Coldwell
learning curve with                       incorporate into our solution.‖              Banker, especially in places where people
                                                                                       don‘t expect to see real estate sales
Microsoft Surface. But                    Adds Gamble, ―We would have needed           occurring. ―The social aspects of the
                                          to add another 30 to 60 days to our          Microsoft Surface computer make it
it‘s so intuitive that, after             timeline without the MTC experience to       perfect for public places,‖ says Marine.
about five seconds,                       guide us. We also had more clarity           ―For example, if I had a regular portable
                                          around which elements we could design        computer open at a mall kiosk and tried
people feel perfectly                     first, as well as those that were more       to attract the attention of passersby, I
                                          complicated and should be saved for a        wouldn‘t have much luck. But this device
comfortable and are fully                 later phase of the project.‖                 creates a totally different dynamic—
immersed in the                                                                        people come right up to ask what it is,
                                          Fast Time-to-Market                          and stay to locate their homes and
experience.‖                              Because of the head start that FD Kinesis    browse through properties for sale.‖
                                          got at the MTC, Coldwell Banker
 David Marine, Director of Products and
           Innovation, Coldwell Banker    achieved its goal of being first to market   Coldwell Banker has been pleased with
                                          with an engaging, interactive solution.      the intuitive nature of Microsoft Surface.
                                          ―Being first to market is an important       ―We were surprised, because we thought
                                          claim for our franchisees to make,           that there‘d be some sort of learning
                                          especially when it comes to attracting       curve with Microsoft Surface,‖ says
                                          and retaining top agents as well as          Marine. ―But it‘s so intuitive that, after
                                          buyers,‖ says Marine. ―Our Microsoft         about five seconds, people feel perfectly
                                          Surface–based solution is a powerful         comfortable and are fully immersed in
                                          addition to what makes Coldwell Banker       the experience, which is just the way we
                                          different from the other real estate         want it.‖
                                          organizations out there, and the MTC
                                          experience helped make it all possible
                                          within a very short period of time.‖

                                          Intuitive, Innovative Solution
                                          Perhaps most important, Coldwell Banker
                                          is continuing its tradition of innovation,
                                          using advanced technology solutions to
                                          increase customer excitement and
                                          differentiate the company from the
                                          competition. ―This solution is one of the
                                          most talked-about things we‘ve done in
                                          awhile,‖ says Marine. ―Whenever our
                                          corporate office plans a visit to a
                                          franchise, the agents ask if we can bring
                                          the Surface computer with us.‖
For More Information                                  Microsoft Technology Centers
For more information about Microsoft                  Microsoft Technology Centers (MTCs)
products and services, call the                       provide everything you need—
Microsoft Sales Information Center at                 technology experts, industry leaders, and
(800) 426- 9400. In Canada, call the                  an outstanding environment—to
Microsoft Canada Information Centre                   envision, plan, and architect a complete,
at (877) 568-2495. Customers in the                   customized solution.
United States and Canada who are
deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach                     For more information about Microsoft
Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD)                    Technology Centers, go to:
services at (800) 892- 5234. Outside th e             www.microsoft.com/mtc
50 United States and Canada, please
contact your local Microsoft subsidiary.
To access information using the World
Wide Web, go to:
www.microsoft.com

For more information about FD Kinesis
products and services, call (973) 206-
1021, or visit the Web site at:
www.kinesismarketing.com

For more information about Coldwell
Banker Real Estate products and
services, visit the Web site at:
www.coldwellbanker.com




                                                       Software and Services                      Partners
                                                          Microsoft Surface                         FD Kinesis
                                                          Microsoft Expression Studio               Vectorform
                                                          Services
                                                           − Microsoft Technology Centers
                                                             (MTC)



This case study is for informational purposes only.
MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EX PRESS OR
IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMAR Y.

Document published November 2009

				
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