Whether you are an agent, property owner, developer, marketer or whatever corner of the real estate cake you are currently biting, I hereby admit you to the fact these are very exciting times to be in business. The tools of the trade have become numerous and variant and information is easier to come by, leading to ever increasing openings and opportunities in the industry. Since the dawn of the internet age, subsequent technological developments have come thick and fast, transforming industries entirely.
In recent times, there has been the inviting case of 3-D printing, the imminently revolutionary block chain technology, the absolute manifestation of virtual reality and the very emergent artificial intelligence not to mention the array of robots and drones. The list is far from exhaustive and I will not make it so but for one addition, cloud computing. By now, this is a household term since it dates back to more than five years and I presume most people understand it. I am no expert ether but for the avoidance of doubt, I will outline the most interesting components of it in this space.
It boils down to this; cloud computing offers the pooled advantages of computing power, database storage, applications, analytics, web-hosting and other IT resources through a remote server or cloud based platform. Cloud based services are offered over the internet by cloud services companies via a pay as you use pricing. So what has real estate got to do with cloud computing, you ask? Well the benefits are many considering the multi-faceted nature of functions in the real estate industry but here are a few:
- No investment in hardware
Cloud computing services are just that, services. The hardware is invested and maintained by a third party who is in charge of maintenance and ensuring efficiency in service delivery. Indeed investing in such a complex system would be costly and out of reach for the typical real estate company, property owners or other stakeholders except for perhaps, large conglomerates. Making the services open for all however, enables cloud service providers to achieve a minimum efficiency scale quickly while meeting client needs.
- Unlimited capacity
Real estate dealings and transactions can be data intensive along with the media that goes with it in this digital times. Storing such data as legal documents, sales records, images and videos requires substantial investments in data storage and the security thereof. Although cloud storage services are not exactly infinite, they can perfectly cater for your data storage needs which is basically what they are.
- Instant access to endless resources online
Most cloud services offer you instant access to your information plus additional resources online from any device in as much as you can access the internet. This flexibility can allow you to set up and perform certain tasks for example tracking project developments, backing up information, downloading and uploading documents and other media, sending files, printing files and updating your websites, from your device without going to the office.
- Security, time and cost efficiency
The ultimate beauty and drive for adopting technology is usually the savings in time, cost and improvements in efficiency and cloud offers all that. Although there is an associated risk of security breach whether you are on cloud or not, cloud service providers are ever more conscious and strict in enforcing security measures. Furthermore, there are different levels of cloud services that one could opt for, that is, public cloud, private cloud and community cloud. For sensitive users, a private cloud service which is more restrictive to the public could be of use.
Now, the millennials have arrived and the optimum method of reaching them for real estate players, large or small has to be defined by technology. The cloud should definitely be part of the strategy as millennials gain purchasing power. In Africa the adoption technological innovations is on the rise. Already in Kenya there are 31.9 million internet users out of the nearly 46 million population by June of 2016, according to Internet World Stats. That is an internet penetration of 68.4 per cent, which should impress anyone with a solid strategy.
Cloud technology is not limited businesses alone, even individual homeowners can monitor and manage their own real estate portfolios from the public cloud. The important thing is to be deliberate and methodical about it. You can begin by analysing your current situation and then noting down the considerations that matter to you before exploring the solutions available in the market. In Kenya there are several cloud computing service providers including international ones like Microsoft Azure and IBM Cloud. Local companies like Safaricom, Access Kenya, Microsoft Azure, Databank and TrueHost also provide the services.