When it comes to legacy PropTech, there are few companies that have more legacy than MRI. Started in 1971 as Management Reports Incorporated, the company was acquired by Intuit in 2002 and was again bought, this time by a private equity firm, in 2009. They started out as an accounting software but have grown to be much more. They have expanded their product line to include an entire management platform for commercial and corporate real estate.
This week, MRI announced that they would be adopting the long-running OSCRE data standard. Data standards allow users, software companies, and data providers to easily share data thanks to uniform naming and formatting. Commercial real estate data is known for often having incongruences when it comes to data (for example, lease price per square foot is calculated on a yearly basis in New York versus month in California).
This integration will ensure that data can easily be transported from one system to another. This is a good sign for interoperability in the industry and shows MRI’s commitment to its platform approach. The company has a partner portal that allows other adjacent companies to offer services to their user base. Every year, the company hosts a conference called Ascend, where users can learn more about their partners, which happens to be going on right now in Chicago. Back in 2018, I was able to be able to attend one of these conferences, and it gave me a lot of hope for the tech ecosystem approach that MRI was taking.
The adoption of an industry standard is another sign that MRI is committed to that strategy, which I think is good for the overall industry. It can be temptingly profitable for software companies to try to “lock in” users and the data that they provide. But in the long run, what MRI is doing might be a better play. If users feel trapped in a system, they will leave once given the change. Plus, companies that don’t partner with other vendors are relying on their own product roadmap to keep pace with the innovation of the industry at large, which they almost never do.