After all the build up and preparations, the biggest event for the title and settlement services industry is over. Our Chief Technology Officer, Chris Abbott, got to experience all the excitement for the first time this year and is back in the studio to share his takeaways from a first-timer and technology expert perspective.
Q: Hey, Chris! Tell us about your background and what you do for PropLogix.
Chris: My name is Chris Abbott and I’m the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) here at PropLogix. I have been in the real estate and technology space since I left the army in 2004, so for about 15 years. So, as CTO of the company, I work closely with Jesse [Biter, PropLogix CEO], the rest of the executive team of our company and all the senior leadership to outline what our five-year strategic plan looks like and how we execute on that. We’re currently two years into that plan. Since I’ve arrived, we work to identify issues for all of our clients, and we put together solutions and execute them and roll them out on a quarterly basis. In addition to that, I play an active role in our company culture and work on developing the bench in our company.
Q: This is your first time at ALTA ONE, what were your first impressions?
Chris: Well, first – people are incredibly friendly. It certainly helped for two different things, one, I’m friends with Dave Daley, so I would just say, ‘I’m friends with Dave Daley,’ and people would just open right up and tell a good, funny story. Second is, we’re wearing green and we have such a good, strong presence with our company color and just our marketing effort that people already kind of knew who we are and what we did so I didn’t have to work through the explanation of that. I could kind of get right into the meat and potatoes of why I was there, which was a lot different than our sales and marketing group who were there for sales and marketing reasons, while I was there to make the connections and building more relationships with potential integration partners.
Q: What was the most valuable part of attending?
Chris: I learned a lot of things about the services and products that a lot of our other vendors and companies in this space provide. These are tools and resources that would help our customer base that I wanted to make sure that I knew about so that I could integrate them, or make them partners and make both of our customers’ experiences better.
Q: Did you see ALTA immediate past-president Cynthia Blair singing Taylor Swift and do you also want to be her best friend?
Chris: I heard, but did not see it. I was actually on the other floor talking with one of our partners and talking about a potential solution, but I can tell you that anyone that can sing like Taylor Swift is someone I want to be friends with and especially everything that she’s done for ALTA in her time as president has just been great for the organization and I am very excited that Mary is now filling that role and looking forward to seeing what she’s going to do.
Q: Can you tell us about the American Land Title Association Committees you’re involved with?
Chris: So, one of my primary objectives was actually attending these [committee] meetings. So I attended the Real Property Records Committee and also the Technology Committee and it was a great opportunity after having spent the last six to eight months being on email chains, being online sessions, or over the phone, and talking through those items and communicating that way. And then being able to actually sit down with the committee, see how they conduct them, who the players are, shaking hands and just getting an understanding of their process. I learned all kinds of great things, one is that we make a big use of sub-committees and that there’s a very strong sub-committee presence. So, I’m really looking forward to connecting with them and seeing how I can be a part of them and apply my skill set to solve some of the challenges that are across the country.
Q: What are some of the technology challenges facing the industry?
Chris: We talked about a lot of different things in the technology committee. [There are] a lot of concerns on privacy, data security, I would go as far as to saying data warehousing. They have some different terminology that I wasn’t quite accustomed to and I was able to talk to Jeremy [Yohe] and some other people to understand exactly what they thought these different terms meant and then how I would apply it to us at PropLogix. One of the good things about talking about some of these issues is fleshing out where the gap between where the technology is and the technology user and I felt really strongly about being able to help assist in some of those processes. I am volunteering to help out where we want to clarify how some of this data is being shared and how and why and it’s going to be really important today and super important for the future and I think the technology committee is in a great place to help solve some of these challenges.
Q: How does your tech background help solve some of these issues?
Chris: It allows me to really kind of see how they talk about solutions. A lot of it comes down to the theoretical way that we describe a problem and the way they describe a problem, me being on the team can help put those words into just a little bit of a different language so that we can make sure that we’re actually solving the technical problems. A lot of times when we’re writing requirements for development and things like that we have business analysts. I kind of see the Technology Committee as this business analyst that’s talking through the problems and then you do need some of these tech-oriented individuals to go on there and say ‘hey, let’s scrub through these, let’s put the text in, let’s make sure all our nomenclature is correct, let’s make sure we’re talking about the same thing so if this ever goes to people who are going to develop in the real world, that they have a very clear understanding of what we’re trying to accomplish.
Learn how this regulation helps standardize nomenclature and streamlines communication between settlement agents and lenders.
Q: What’s next?
Chris: I’m really excited. I can’t wait to get the next email. I’m already following up with Jeremy. There’s a couple people that I met there that I’m following up with. So I’m really looking forward to–between here and the next meeting–how I can be actively involved and engaged and how that will work in our schedule here and then, again, looking forward to the next event, sitting down and seeing how, with these follow-ups, and how we put out challenges and how we roll out solutions and real excited to see how we can apply solutions to everything.
Chris is excited to head back to ALTA ONE next year as well. This year, ALTA live streamed many of their notable sessions so that title professionals from all over could join in on the education. Below are two different recordings for technology-related notable sessions you may find helpful!
2019 ALTA ONE Notable: Preparing for Cyber Attacks
2019 ALTA ONE Notable – Technology Investments