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April 25, 2007

RealTown Technology Paves the Way for Increased Agent Productivity

Single Sign-On (SSO) technology lets RealTown subscribers and Point2 NLS members use a single password for entry to the oldest and largest online real estate network in the world, and to the Point2 office where real estate agents and brokers can administer the day-to-day details of their websites.

"We make sense of the Internet," says Saul Klein, CEO of Internet Crusade, home of RealTown. “There is so much to know to be able to get the most out of the Internet for the benefit of one's real estate career. Our goal is to syndicate with the best of breed for a ‘complete’ real estate online experience. RealTown will also be a place for consumers to gain a better understanding of the real estate industry and the real estate process.”

Saul Klein is widely recognized as an Internet pioneer throughout the real estate industry. He predicts that wide-ranging practical applications of SSO technology will emerge among vendors, real estate franchises and broker networks, and among REALTOR associations and multiple listing services.

"REALTORS will start to see and read more in the years ahead. We are starting the conversation at RealTown so that it will not be a foreign idea," said Klein. "Point 2 and RealTown customers will have the benefit of seeing how SSO will operate, offering ease and convenience and speed to their daily online tasks."

A Macro View of SSO

Password management and frustration account for increased IT costs and serious loss of productivity in all industries. Computing has become more complex and the number of applications is increasing, leading to a corresponding increase in the number and types of passwords needed to access them. As passwords proliferate, users forget them. They get locked out of applications they need and they direct their efforts to find them.

Some industry experts say that more than 30% of Help Desk requests are related to lost passwords. Some mid-size companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on Help Desk management. The North American Help Desk market amounts to some $12.8 billion, according to consultants at Forrester Research.

The loss of productivity associated with looking for lost passwords is not calculated, but it is assumed to be much greater than that.

There are heightened concerns about security, including federal legislation to safeguard the privacy of customer and client information. Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX), Gramm-Leach-Billey Act (GLBA), as well as other privacy and Homeland Security issues.

In an effort to strengthen desktop security, many organizations have enacted strong password policies, mandating frequent changing of passwords. Sometimes users resort to writing them down and leaving them in plain view, inviting security breaches that passwords are designed to avoid. When an unauthorized person uses a password to access a computer system, an entire network becomes vulnerable to the effects of the breach. Experts predict that increasing use of SSO technology will result in greater security efficiencies.

An example of the concept of  Single Sign-On (SSO) in common use today is the arrangement banks have with each other. One can go to just about any ATM and withdraw cash. It does not matter that you don't have a bank account at Bank of America. You can go to any Bank of America ATM, put in your Wells Fargo Card, enter your Wells Fargo password, and the Bank of America ATM will give you the cash you ask for (up to your daily limit), which will come out of your Wells Fargo account. Why? Because Bank of America and Wells Fargo "trust" that each will correctly establish the "identity" of the person possessing the card and password and requesting the cash. Many people use this convenience brought to us by banks and financial institutions every day.

In the real estate industry, there are many situations where Single Sign On will be of benefit to real estate professionals. InternetCrusade's RealTown is excited to partner with Point2 and be among the first to bring the concept of SSO to real estate professionals. Over the next few years, SSO will be the subject of much discussion by associations, MLSs and others as the benefits and advantages of SSO become more apparent as it is adopted and implemented by trusted partners in different segments of the industry.

Point 2 and RealTown customers will have the benefit of seeing how SSO will operate to their benefit, with ease, providing convenience and speed to their daily online tasks.

Point2 NLS and 'My RealTown' Page Enhancements

The Point2 office console will include new RSS content feed from RealTown and a seamless entry into the RealTown real estate portal using advanced web authentication technology that eliminates the need to use another password.

RealTown.com subscribers enjoy the same easy access to the Point2 NLS platform and an enhanced suite of services at the web portal.
"My RealTown" pages (see photo below) are enhanced with new RSS content feeds from Point2’s Reliberation blog community as well as RealTown articles, blogs, and select posts from other community platforms, including the popular RealTalk community. Recent updates this week includes a desktop console that lets a member monitor and manages a RealTown blog, and a built-in RSS feeder to manage content from other blogs and news channels.

"None of us are sure where the future will take us with this. People have to learn as much as they can. We are in that learning process. The crystal ball is still a little cloudy. You have to learn everything you can about new technology and use what works for you," said Klein.

Saul Klein discusses the features and benefits of Single Sign-On in this  Podcast (7MB download).

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