Top 10 Cloud Computing Strategies For CRE
The commercial real estate technology race is on! Have you moved to the cloud yet? If not, then you’re falling behind. The most successful and efficient companies now use the cloud to run their businesses and differentiate their service. Figuring out where to start and how to make this migration can be a challenge though.
We put together a list of the top 10 cloud computing strategies for commercial real estate professionals. These are simple strategies that anyone can adopt. The key concepts are to simplify everything, innovate now and differentiate. You’ll find everything from specific online tools and software to broad business practices designed to help you leverage the cloud.
Read on to discover what the cloud has to offer, and watch Michael Griffin’s full video presentation (53:41) to get the whole scoop. It contains personal recommendations and live examples not found in this article.
1- The cloud is not a fad
You heard it here first: the desktop is dead. Your future is in the cloud. The migration from your desktop to the cloud is a paradigm shift that we haven’t seen since computers were first introduced as a replacement for the Rolodex. Start by eliminating all the “legacy technology anchors” that keep you locked into the desktop world, your office or a particular operating system. There’s freedom online. Long live the cloud.
2 – Move your office online
You don’t need an office anymore as a place to create documents, spreadsheets and presentations. There are powerful online tools available now that allow you to be productive anywhere. Google Apps and Microsoft Office 365 give you everything you need in a browser. Consider Google Voice as a way to increase your mobility and significantly simplify your telephony. It may be the last phone number you ever need.
3 – Don’t send your own emails
Third party email providers like MailChimp, ConstantContact and iContact do it right. They’re cost-effective and simple to use. Just maintain your marketing lists within your online CRM and then import them periodically to your email tool. You’ll get better deliverability, great statistics and mobile optimization. The big recommendation: avoid using your personal CRM or Outlook for mass emails. You run the risk of getting blacklisted, which could affect your entire company’s ability to send emails.
4 – Eliminate paper
Saving everything online these days is safe and cheap. File access is fast and everything is searchable. Online services like Google Drive, Dropbox, Box and Evernote are every bit as good as your local hard drive. The main advantages are that you get to ditch your server and have access to files in more places. Check out Bo Barron’s insightful blog on achieving a paperless office. He’s living it.
5 – Do deals, not research
There’s no question that the big information providers like CoStar, Xceligent and LoopNet do research right. Take advantage of this and buy as much quality data as you can afford. Get out of the personal research business and leave it up to the professionals. Spend your time making deals. Plus, have you seen the iPad apps from these companies? They’re incredible, and they’ve introduced a new dynamic: you need research data in the field now to be competitive. You better keep up!
6 – Get serious about online CRM
If an online CRM solution like ClientLook, Salesforce or Highrise isn’t the central point of your business, then you’re getting passed by. You could be working more effectively and providing better service. Nothing on the desktop compares. Make sure your online solution of choice is intuitive, has mobile access and syncing. It should also integrate into your project management solution (see below). Adopting a online CRM is one of the single most impactful technology decisions you can make with immediate productivity gains and lasting results.
7 – Collaborate with clients
This strategy is all about collaborating with your clients using online project management in order to increase efficiency and deliver service that is competition-killing. Solutions like ClientLook, Real Capital Markets and Basecamp make it easy. Make sure your choice integrates with your online CRM, otherwise the redundant data entry will drive you nuts. Also, find one with full collaboration capabilities so that your clients can add their own updates, download/upload files and more. Let your competition use any solution that only offers read-only online reports so you can continue to beat them.
8 – Business should follow you
The cloud enables you to work anywhere, using any device. Replace all those legacy desktop tools that keep you anchored to a specific computer or server with online tools. Make sure you have a common address book and calendar everywhere. Updates should sync throughout your technology ecosystem.
Migrate your local files online so they’re more accessible. Stop using services like GoToMyPC, LogMeIn or a VPN since they’re clear evidence that you’re not in the cloud, and you’re trying to fake it. Choose tools that are OS, browser and device independent. To get Google’s perspective on this, check out their great article about the web and browsers. It’s worth reading.
9 – Expand your geography
If you’re able to do deals in more places, then chances are that you’ll do more deals. Get research data everywhere. Check with your data provider about a national subscription. Use web conferencing tools like GoToMeeting, Webex or Join.Me to connect with remote clients. Make sure your web identity is solid with a quality bio on your company’s website as well as a comprehensive profile on LinkedIn. People really pay attention to these sources.
10 – Don’t work for free
Right off the bat this sounds pretty obvious, but every day most of us are doing work that someone else could do for free, or pretty close to free. Virtual assistants allow you to outsource your low value tasks like CRM updates, research, etc. to capable and low cost people.
Last year ClientLook pioneered a novel virtual assistant service for commercial real estate to provide free assistance for its subscribers, for example. REIWise now offers a concierge service along the same lines. There are also loads of companies out there providing hourly services through the cloud. Outsource whatever you can. Focus on deal making and not data entry.
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