Taking a rearview look at business tech developments show us just how far we have come. Electronic spreadsheets were a huge step, both in terms of efficiency and accuracy. Certainly, communication capabilities have been revolutionized by email and mobile phones. In recent years, however, cloud capabilites have changed the game for the CRE industry.
Working in the cloud simply means using platforms and software that are housed on a remote server that is maintained by the vendor. This type of technology puts the job of updating and maintaining software on the desk of the provider rather than the user and also provides access from any location or device.
Cloud-based technologies have touched every sector of the business world, and CRE is certainly no exception. In fact, in some ways cloud computing seems custom-made for an industry where very few of us spend most of our time at a desk. CRE demands mobility, and being able to manage things on the go is a tremendous boon for busy agents.
There are really 5 major areas where cloud computing is moving the industry forward in a big way.
Working in the cloud makes us more efficient because it allows completion of pretty much any task or process on the go. From their tablet or mobile, brokers can assemble and submit offers, supply detailed property information to clients, and even get contracts and leases signed in a matter of hours. Property management software streamlines things like advertising and filling vacancies, handling maintenance requests and calendars, and collecting rents.
Transaction cycle times can be considerably reduced when the job is handled in the cloud. At Realnex, for example, brokers can create instantaneous and detailed analyses for a given property and then set up a transaction management deal room where negotiations and offers can be managed.
Efficiency also means eliminating wasted time when completing routine tasks. Keeping all of these processes together on a cloud-based platform eliminates redundant data entry, since figures are instantly and automatically updated across the platform. No more worries about using the correct version for marketing purposes or spending any time double-checking that your numbers match.
Documents and information stored in the cloud are instantly accessible, to multiple users, in multiple locations, and on a variety of devices. Many of the all-in-one platforms also integrate relevant data and market information, so in depth reports can be compiled in a few clicks.
Cloud applications can provide access to data from a huge variety of sources, including “unstructured data” like social media, transaction logs, websites, video and more. It’s all there, all up to date, and all compatible with any device.
Particularly with regard to transactions, transparency is essential for progress. Cloud-based technology creates an easily traceable history of the entire process, from listing to closing, that’s available any time to everyone involved. Authorized users can review offers, property specs, market information, financing, and all of the relevant documentation.
Transparency helps to streamline the process –both by providing access and by enhancing the confidence and understanding of all the players. Being able to find answers quickly and easily reassures investors that everything is being well managed.
For some, it seems counterintuitive to think that documents stored online would actually be more secure than those on a laptop or printed on paper and stored in the office.
Understanding how cloud-computing works helps us see that this is absolutely true. Laptops can be lost or stolen; papers can be inadvertently destroyed or picked up by an unauthorized person. Several layers of encryption and security, set up by experts, protect documents that are stored online, and they’re easily shared with authorized users.
People make mistakes. In the course of routine tasks especially, one second of distraction can cause an error that may take weeks to identify and correct. There is really no comparison between the level of accuracy possible via an online platform and what can be expected when those tasks are done by hand.
Using cloud-based software, information can be entered once and then automatically distributed across the system, updating dozens of data points instantly. Figures and information are up to date, accurate, and instantly usable.