These are exciting times for technology in the multifamily industry. We live in a world that demands convenience, a world where tools, websites and apps bring virtually everything to your fingertips.
Our industry is moving fast in the direction of connecting people, devices, and systems, making processes as easy and efficient as possible. The biggest impacts are felt when we develop new connections that didn’t exist before. From the simple exchange of data, to shared functions, to embedded applications, there is always the potential to create new connections, new opportunities.
Connections begin with data, our information. The days of faxing documents or transferring files via FTP are being replaced more and more with direct Web service API communications, and although web service integration isn’t new, security concerns are more important now than ever. Work needs to be done to ensure not only that we’re exchanging data correctly, but that we’re doing it safely, protecting usernames and passwords, using identity servers & security tokens, employing authentication and authorization protocols, etc. We read about security hacks daily. It’s no trivial matter to secure the transmission of data via the internet, and new integrations must not compromise the security of client data that can include sensitive information.
In addition to keeping data safe, the next challenge is making data valuable, connecting people with answers to their questions. Space is cheap, and we’ve buried ourselves in data points, making it more and more challenging to organize, retrieve, and extract meaning. A static report has a purpose, but its usefulness is limited to its target audience. More widespread uses for data among wider audiences will require re-thinking how information is conveyed. Coming soon: dynamic reports, natural language queries and voice recognition programs (think Siri or Cortana), all ready to dissect data and garner answers faster than you can boot up your 2-year-old laptop.
Establishing and utilizing connections between disparate hardware/software systems in today’s world of IoT (the internet of things) is a new, evolving market. Like the different members of a team, devices can be linked to leverage their collective strength and knowledge. With hardware & software advancements arriving fast-and-furious, an equipped network in the hands of a skilled organization can offer new features and purposes, proactively saving time, energy and money. Imagine a smart apartment, a smart property management office, a smart bank of sub-meters, etc., and you begin to scratch the surface of what’s coming. The technology winners will be the ones who bring real meaning to the IoT connections, providing measureable benefits to residents, managers, and owners. Beyond just the cool factor of living & working in a ‘smart’ environment, there are real benefits to both the environment and to properties’ pocketbooks.
Inter-connected organizations are better at satisfying the demanding world of convenience. Clients are counting on different companies to be accessible & interconnected now more than ever. They want the best-of-breed in multiple areas, and they want (and deserve) cooperation to get the greatest value. The isolationist, one-size-fits-all company is going to trail the others that embrace partnerships, teamwork and open integrations, the ones that work together make great accomplishments. Look for more open integrations, embedded functionality, and cross-company projects that sprout from these partnerships, reducing barriers that waste time and resources.
Our world demands convenience and connections, a cyber-sphere full of features and functionality. Satisfying our clients means developing applications that support all glass from large-screen monitors to mobile-phones, smartly providing the right information via the right means at the right time (no more burying people in mountains of emails and reports), bravely pioneering the new and difficult (and sometimes fruitless) technologies that make a difference, and cooperating with other organizations to leverage key strengths. Evolving technologies offer limitless opportunities to improve our industry.