Head in the Cloud

cloudThere are a lot of great new cloud apps coming out for CRE these days.  It’s good that the software upgrades are someone else’s headache and that you can access whatever you’ve got from anywhere.  There’s only one problem.  You’ve got your CRM data in one place, lease data in another and marketing tools someplace else.  No integration and often, no way to get your data out.

Larger brokerages are using cloud apps, too.  But they’ve got the money to customize the apps and integrate with their internal systems.  That means they’re sitting on a warehouse of data that they can mine and mix with other sources to gain unique insight into how their firm or the market is doing.  They can better predict trends and they will eventually be able to mine data for leads.  And the entire work flow can be more streamlined and efficient.

While I applaud all the CRE tech innovation, I’d like to ask developers to think about how they could provide user tools for more efficiency and better integration.  My suggestions:

  • At the very least, let your users export their data to a spreadsheet format.
  • Allow an import of large amounts of data.  You can provide a spreadsheet template and a “how-to.”  On the back end, you need an import script.  Write it once and use it over and over again.
  • If you want users to get out of another application and into yours, you’ll have to address how to do that.  When building your app, keep that in mind. Offer migration services as an add-on.  Not everyone will pay to switch, but at least you won’t be turning away potential users because you never considered it.
  • Create APIs for user’s own data or allow ODBC connectivity to it.  That way, brokerages would have access to their data for other purposes.
  • I’ve written about this before but the pay per user model where everyone in an office has to pay doesn’t seem fair to most brokerages.  It’s understood you need to recoup costs and you want to make some money.  But charge by bandwidth and/or amount of storage used.  Tack on your upcharge on those plus a per month fee to cover costs, development and profit.
  • Consider licensing your app to a brokerage.  Some brokerages don’t have the funds to create an app like yours but would be willing to use it internally in their own “cloud” so they ultimately have control over the company data.  Yes…that’s still important.
  • Look to partner with other app developers. Can your CRM app integrate with one that holds listing data or does lease analysis? Instead of your app company recreating the wheel, maybe your app can work with other CRE apps, including mobile ones.

And now a few words for agents.  Don’t be so cheap.  While apps need to be priced competitively, this kind of functionality isn’t free.  Look at it this way – you’ll have a predictable monthly/annual cost, no software upkeep and lots of possibilities.

Photo by akakumo