People think differently about software these days. Part of that is due to the fact that we think of computers differently today. In my day (delivered in my father’s voice), computers were heavy, metal hardware that took up a lot of space and required special atmospheric conditions and a lot of power. Today, kids are carrying around computers on their belts and accessing the Web on the fly. Instead of complicated software packages delivered on giant plastic discs, today’s computing work is handled by apps, little snippets of code that borrow from libraries of routines stored safely elsewhere on the Net. Software isn’t a capital expense anymore. We just decide what we want to do and then download the app to our laptop, iPad or smart phone. Technologists working in mortgage banking need to be thinking about this as they work on the next generation of mortgage technology. Both the borrowers and the lenders of the future will be using new hardware to access the software required to deliver home financing. They’ll expect to have easy access to the software they need. How can technology firms prepare for this? One excellent way that industry players prepare for the challenges ahead is by attending industry trade shows and conferences. By spending time with their peers and by interacting with other experts, technologists can gain insight they can factor into their next designs. I’ve long been a proponent of cross pollination when it comes to business conference strategy. I personally try to make it to one real estate agent/broker show each year just to keep tabs on the way the other half is living. Invariably, I come back with new ideas that may not have struck me had I remained safe within my comfortable conference schedule. Sometimes, a good conference planner will build that kind of diversity into the program. I always felt that the Predictive Methods Conference, which is going on this week in Southern California, did a good job of this. The PMC planners try to bring in speakers who approach data and analytics differently in an effort to spark new thinking among attendees. I remember listening to an earthquake predictor one year. Attendees later told me they got a lot out of the presentation. For a long time now, I’ve been expecting conference planners to begin offering their programs in a way that is closer to the way tomorrow’s conference attendees will expect. While completely virtual conferences are still a ways out into the future, I’m glad to see more show planners taking advantage of new/social media to enhance the live conference experience. The upcoming REO Expo is a case in point. Yes, it’s true that REO Insider, the sister publication of HousingWire, is the media sponsor and primary planner for this event, and I do occupy this space at their pleasure. So you might expect me to heap praise on them as a matter of course. In truth, creating iPhone and Android apps for their event is wicked smart and I won’t be the only guy saying so when others learn of it. It makes great sense to provide information to attendees in the manner in which they are accustomed to receiving it and — just as importantly — sharing it. I expect REO Expo to be very successful for doing that. I worry about many mortgage technology firms, however. Not only are they challenged to provide more information to borrowers, legislators and their own customers, but increasingly they’ll be asked to provide it in new ways that many may find challenging. Perhaps an upcoming technology conference will address this issue or maybe someone clever will build an app for that.