Real Estate in the Clouds

The real estate sector is one group that has passed over technology to a great extent. With the recession the focus was not on thinking up better ways to operate but on staying alive. Now, however, organisations are focussing on responding to the changing business environment. And one place to look at is cloud computing.

But what does this technology mean with regards to multi-family, retail, office or industrial real estate? Cloud computing is like SaaS (software as a service) – purchased subscription, internet delivery – except that it’s infrastructure as a service. It allows a large pool of users to share resources and for companies to manage their technology online. It offers networking components, enterprise software and storage for back-ups or the storing of documents/data.

The benefits are numerous.

  • Real estate companies save up to 30% of the cost by not having to invest in in-house servers, software updates or personnel to manage it. Costs are maintained low by the sharing nature of cloud and users benefit by the subscription model of fee payment. The common pay-as-you-go subscription model is designed to let users easily add or remove services, and they will typically pay only for what they do use.
  • It allows scalability – either up or down – at will. With every company, during certain periods they may experience a spike in workflow and may need to account for that extra work only for that brief period before things go back to normal flow. For instance, the first week of the month which is rent collection time. In such cases, computing can be increased to accommodate the higher cash flow coming into the accounting system. Companies can access resources, and expand or shrink services as their needs change.
  • The Cloud can be accessed using a single device with an internet connection. This makes it simple, accessible, portable and flexible. All one needs to do is sign in.
  • Along with the provider administering infrastructure, they also strive to provide the highest quality of security. While cloud security is a much debated topic with users always wary given the amount of data at risk, what remains clear is that it is safer than most corporates’ firewalls.
  • In case of some calamitous event, users’ data can be recovered and business activity can continue normally. This is because the responsibility of providers towards users’ backed-up data with them is of foremost importance – it’s what the service is there for. So in case of any incident, like a power outage for instance, those system backups are backed up to multiple deployment points and have multiple point access, so they can be accessed using a different system with electricity and internet.

Real estate companies will find certain priorities in using The Cloud. While e-mail tops the list, the next is for online leasing applications, the ability to bridge geographically unconnected brokers, and for accounting applications. This technology is especially useful for smaller players, allowing them access to the same business applications as their larger competitors, for a fraction of the cost. Some companies vouch for cloud prioritisation, some believe in control of their computing environment, and others fall somewhere in between. But what remains are the benefits it adds. Whether people do choose to take it up or not, cloud computing isn’t going anywhere in the near future, and it makes sense to jump on the bandwagon now, rather than being forced to later with the demands of the business and the need to keep up with a clientele changing with technology.

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