In property management, as in many industries, data, both personal and professional, is one of the most valuable commodities available. More than ever, the ability to effectively manage and analyse data is critical to an agency’s continuing growth and success. And, understandably, consumers and businesses alike are increasingly invested in the way their data is being used, stored, and secured.
But, as businesses of all sorts have come to accumulate more and more data, so too has the complexity of managing that data increased, as has the risk of that data being compromised, either by accident or foul play. So for property management agencies of all sizes, it’s time to start considering if their data storage is up to scratch.
Perhaps the most immediate choice when it comes to data management is how it will be stored. And while traditionally most property management data has been stored in physical files and ledgers and on in-office servers, more and more agencies are making the move to cloud-based systems.
What is cloud storage?
Essentially, the cloud is an online storage platform that makes the data and software hosted on it available anywhere, anytime, and on any compatible device. Unlike with a traditional computer hard drive, the data is stored in a remote location and then delivered on demand via the internet..
Almost all cloud storage providers offer automatic, regular backups and updates, preventing your data from being lost, and take advantage of high-level encryption and other security measures to ensure data can’t be intercepted and read when it’s in transit.
What are the advantages of cloud storage?
Cloud technology offers significant and immediate cost savings, which can make an impact on any business’s bottom line. Adopting cloud data storage eliminates the need for physical hardware, such as servers, as well as the costs associated with updating and maintaining them. That includes the hardware itself, the energy bills associated with running it, repairs and maintenance, and any employing specialist staff or contractors to troubleshoot issues.
Cloud storage is also much more flexible in its capacity. Unlike with an in-office server, where expanding the amount of data that can be stored requires an expensive upgrade and time-intensive transfer process, cloud storage is essentially infinite in its capacity. That means if your business is growing and your data needs are increasing, or if your business suddenly requires less capacity, perhaps due to selling a portion of your rent roll, there’s no need to dramatically alter your data storage infrastructure.
One of the most common concerns when it comes to cloud data storage is security, but in many ways it is much more secure than an in-office server. Cloud storage providers can leverage economies of scale to ensure their data is protected by cutting-edge, enterprise-grade security measures. Many cloud storage providers, such as AWS for instance, also maintain thousands of third-party compliance certificates to help businesses meet the regulatory requirements for all sorts of industries.
The other way that cloud technology can increase data security is by allowing it to be automatically backed up in more than one location at once. This effectively prevents its permanent loss, either by accident, theft, or disaster. For instance, if your office loses power before you can back up, or if a laptop is lost or stolen, nothing is irretrievably lost, and your agency can continue on as normal.
Most cloud providers also back up their data across multiple data centres, so in the unlikely event that one of them somehow fails, there is an extra level of redundancy to protect data from being lost or inaccessible.
One benefit of cloud data storage that can’t be overstated is the convenience of being able to access your data from anywhere and on any device. Whether you’re at the office, in the car, at home, or even on holiday, it’s simply a matter of getting online. For an industry such as property management where agents are frequently out and about, having full access to contact, tenancy, and property details from everywhere is a huge advantage.
The other side of being able to access your data from anywhere is that it makes it much easier for coworkers to collaborate across tasks, with all data updates immediately visible to everyone working within the system. There’s no need to wait for fresh information to be backed up to the server, or for sharing of paper files—everything is available instantly for every user.
Making a move to the cloud
No matter why you think a move to the cloud could benefit your agency, it’s important to do your due diligence before you make the jump. While some agencies have their hand forced by an external factor such as a failed server, if you have the time, it’s worth fully considering the individual needs of your business first.
And to help, we’ve prepared a Buyer’s guide to property management software ebook that’s available free right now. This in-depth document will take you through what you need to know when considering new property management software, how to accurately assess your own existing technology stack, and how to perform a fair comparison of your options. Once you’re ready to go ahead, it will also show you how to prepare a persuasive business case for your choice, so you can get your whole team on board.