PropTech (Property or Real Estate Technology)
Last year, “FinTech” (Financial Technology) was the buzzword of the moment for tech organisations and enthusiasts, an exciting prospect for where to invest your money in the hopes of making more. This year, “PropTech” (Property or Real Estate Technology) is the thing everyone is talking about. Anything that pays attention to combining real estate and technology seems to be a magnet for capital right now. Not only here in Australia, but right across the world. Using technology to change the way we manage property it a hot topic.
It’s no secret that the level of investment that organisations in the Property Management sphere are making, has grown exponentially in the past 5 years. It’s also no secret that this number continues to grow, producing interesting tools and solutions to the market that quite often compete very heavily with one another which can sometimes seem daunting when you need to make a decision.
But, why should we be excited by the prospect of new technologies?
These technologies all come together to provide solutions around how we work, making us more efficient, more collaborative, and most importantly, improving our level of service to our clients. For Property Management, the talk of the town is ‘cloud’, and to understand how cloud will change the way property is managed in the future, we need to get back to the basics.
What is “the cloud”, where is it, and how does it work?
In the simplest terms, cloud computing is storing and accessing your information, documents, data and programs over the internet. The term “cloud” came from the fact that the internet was represented by a cloud icon in computer network diagrams over the last 20 or so years. Typically cloud computing will replace the use of the storage on your computer’s hard drive, or a server in the office.
“The cloud” isn’t in cyberspace, your data is securely stored on the physical server of the organisation who’s cloud you choose to use and pay for. Many companies offer cloud services now, for example, iCloud is owned by Apple, Azure is owned by Microsoft, AWS Cloud is owned by Amazon, Google Cloud is owned by Google. As an example, Console’s Cloud platform is hosted on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud.
How does using cloud software help me in property management?
You’ve probably heard bits and pieces of information through online forums, or chatting with friends and colleagues, about why cloud software is going to ‘change your life’ – making it such a hot topic. A lot of the time, this information can seem a little convoluted and overwhelming, so we’re putting the sales speak aside, and breaking it down for you here.
Here are 5 advantages of cloud technology.
#1. Reducing spend on maintaining your in-house server.
Most businesses running server-based software also require either an IT contractor or in-house IT team too, for when the server crashes and you can’t access the information you need to do your job. Cloud software is maintained by your provider. You don’t need that clunky server in the corner of the room anymore, all you need is your device of choice (laptop, desktop, mobile device) and an internet connection – and you’re good to go.
#2. Stop worrying about storage capacity
As above, you don’t have a server anymore, so you don’t have to worry about when you’re going to run out of space. The cloud has endless capacity – as much or as little as you need!
#3. Mobility & Flexibility
By 2020, there will be 4 devices for every human on earth – that’s huge! Because cloud software only requires an internet connection and an internet browser to access it (of which most, if not all, smart devices have access to now), you have the ability to access your database from anywhere. More often than not, you can still access and edit your information without an internet connection, and it’s updated as soon as you’re back online.
The best part about this, is your information is no longer stored on your hard drive (on your physical computer sitting on your desk in the office, or at home, or at your partner’s place). It’s online. This means that if you happen to fall sick, or can’t make it into the office, a colleague can pick up from where you left off. Or, you can work from your home computer if you can’t make it into the office.
#4. Automated updates
Running server-based system or software updates often requires you to be ‘locked out’ of your database, which can also mean more downtime for your business. When using cloud software, the servers are maintained by your supplier, who often roll our regular software and security updates so you don’t have to worry about it.
Your data is more secure in the cloud than on your computer’s hard drive or in your local server. Suppliers have the ability to use a number of highly reputable cyber-security firms to provide security advice and penetration-testing to ensure that the highest levels of security are maintained at all times. Data in the cloud is protected from malicious viruses and attacks, such as crypto-locker, that may affect your local network.
How does this relate to property management?
- Spending less time and money maintaining your in-house server, means you spend time focusing on the quality of the relationships you are maintaining in that database, rather than just making sure your information is stored.
- Without worrying about storage capacity, (and from your now stronger and growing relationships), you can grow your customer-base and your business.
- Becoming more streamlined in administrative tasks means less time spent on making sure the tenant is happy with the time that the tradie can come and fix the oven, and more time spent on making sure your vacancy rates are low.
- Now that you’re mobile, there’s no more double-handling of paper-based record-keeping. Stop signing people in on the clipboard when you have an open – enter them directly into the system on your device. Reducing administration means your can manage more properties by working smarter, not harder.
- Without having to perform system and security updates, you have more time up your sleeve. Maybe with this extra hour you can go grab a coffee with a friend or colleague?
- Top notch security and backups means you don’t have to worry about remaining compliant – it’s all done for you.
How to shift our thinking
What we need to start doing is think about how aware, agile or responsive we are as businesses. More than ever before in this industry we need to be going back to our business plans and reviewing them frequently. We need to check in more regularly that our assumptions about the next year or two are still true.
What are the new threats to your business? They are changing, and they are changing more quickly than ever and you need to put plans in place to ensure that as business leaders you keep your finger on the pulse.