With new innovations unveiled seemingly every week, staying ahead of the technology curve can be a cumbersome task.
Whether it’s adding smart-home technology to existing communities, devising plans for new developments or updating software systems on the fly, the process of implementing new technology is fluid and ever-evolving.
A panel of experts shared some of their stories and favorite practices in the Entrata Summit 2016 session The Road Less Traveled: Staying Ahead of the Technology Curve.
“Remaining agile is key, and if you look at a lot of technology packages out there, there’s really nothing agile about what they’re doing,” said Jason Larson, COO and CMO of IDM, a fully integrated building manager based in Portland. “That won’t cut it today because the market is changing so quickly. Anything that’s working this year will probably be obsolete next year.”
While many companies attempt to stay ahead of the curve by future-proofing their products, that is only effective to some degree. While some innovations can be anticipated, others hit the market as a previously unforeseen commodity and shake up the landscape. Remaining agile allows upwardly mobile software companies to integrate new technology without the need for an overhaul.
Larson operates IDM with an open-minded approach, saying: “We test, try, break and experiment with a lot of things. We don’t commit to any long-term marketing plans or long-term campaigns.”
Larson said Entrata’s willingness to evolve and adapt at the pace of technology makes the software provider one of the few companies Larson is comfortable staying with on a long-term basis. While multifamily social media strategies can become antiquated mere months into their implementation, so too can software, such as resident portals. Companies that don’t evolve can fall behind quickly.
“There was a time when we didn’t have any of the new technologies,” said Erin Piper of Middleburg Management, which oversees 11 properties in the Southeast Region and Texas. “Adding features such as online leasing, electronic leasing and SiteTablet has made a tremendous difference. It’s really allowed us to adapt to the new way of doing things, which gives us an edge in a competitive market.”
More and more, apartment owner/operators are transitioning to fully integrated systems to have all their leasing data in one place. In addition to making life more convenient, it serves the same purpose for the onsite team.
“I’m a low log-in guy,” Larson said. “I like my employees to have a low amount of log-ins. Right now we’re down to two, one for Microsoft Office 365 for email and one for Entrata. One single point of truth, everything’s in one spot. Everyone can log in and see what’s going on.”
As technology one-ups itself with alarming frequency, staying ahead of the curve makes a tremendous difference in the success of a company.