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In Real Estate And Elsewhere, Bigger Is Business-As-Usual

VALLEY FORGE PA – Big players in real estate got bigger this week (Nov. 8-14, 2004), as LendingTree Inc. and Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates both announced new additions to their operations. They are following a familiar trend, which one observer says results from increased competition to grow while simultaneously cutting costs.

LendingTree, the online lending and real estate exchange, on Wednesday said it had acquired iNest, a referral network that serves builders and buyers of new homes. Its services and functions would be combined with LendingTree’s RealEstate.com brand and website over time, the company said. RealEstate.com carries real estate listings, helps visitors connect with licensed real estate agents, and offers mortgages, re-financings and home equity loans.

Also Wednesday, Sotheby’s said it signed six real estate companies during the past 10 days to join its network of luxury real estate brokerages. The brokers operate in Florida, Colorado, California, Montana and Maine.

Both announcements are business-as-usual to Gary Fromer, senior vice president of Small and Medium Business and Hosting for computer software vendor SAP America Inc. After recent talks with all types of businesses, whose revenues range from $20 million to $200 million, Fromer reports they now operate in a “pretty scary environment” of “pressure to grow and keep costs low at the same time.”

SAP develops and sells software for a variety of business operations, including property management and employee recruitment. This April SAP installed electronic personnel recruiting packages for Al Futtaim, a Middle East firm involved in real estate and finance, and in May it placed asset management software to help an international airport in Germany monitor its building maintenance projects.

Customer and stakeholder expectations are higher, Fromer said Thursday, during a keynote speech to participants at the annual Information Technology Exposition and Conference (ITEC) in Valley Forge, Pa. Competition is tougher too, and both are forcing business owners to demand their firms produce more revenue with fewer resources.

Key to their success, Fromer believes, is innovation. When companies find newer, better and faster ways to accomplish routine tasks, he says, it allows them to free up their people and their time to focus on sales and service.

He also claims that many firms must now rely more heavily on business partners to handle their marketing in multiple channels: on the Web, via indirect or referral programs, and in direct contacts with existing and new customers. “There’s a complexity in every business’s marketing mix that hasn’t been seen before,” Fromer says.

This article was originally published at Joe Zlomek’s Docket

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