The growing adoption of cloud computing over the past decade has enabled businesses in all industries to meet their growing technology needs while efficiently accessing exciting new tools.
However, not all industries have kept up with the evolution of cloud technologies brought about by digital transformation. A good example is the real estate sector. Overall, the real estate industry has been slow to digitize its operations and move to the cloud; leaving agents, brokers and their clients underserved.
Cloud computing can cover a lot of ground, with both infrastructure-as-a-service and software-as-a-service availability. There is great potential for the future of the real estate industry in both areas.
When implemented correctly, cloud computing accelerates innovation and digitalization in real estate services, bringing new applications and tools to market faster. It also adds even more value to the buying and selling experience for agents, brokers and consumers.
While the cloud holds a lot of potential for the real estate industry, it’s important for businesses to have an informed idea of what they want to accomplish before migrating some or all of their IT functions to the cloud. Don’t just jump on the cloud train; instead, determine the goals you want to achieve by moving to the cloud and develop a plan for an orderly transition.
If a company’s cloud infrastructure looks exactly like its previous on-premises setup, it’s probably not taking advantage of all the benefits the cloud has to offer. Real estate companies migrating to the cloud need to think strategically about adding value throughout the transition.
With that caveat, there are huge benefits for real estate companies migrating to the cloud.
More data, more power
A seemingly immense hurdle real estate companies face is the daunting task of implementing cloud-enabled infrastructure. But the truth is, real estate companies don’t have to plan, build, or operate their own data centers.
Instead, cloud infrastructure providers can configure and maintain the infrastructure while real estate companies focus on what they do best: selling properties, serving clients, and staffing agents and brokers with the best tools to help them do their job.
Cloud infrastructure also gives real estate companies the computing power to run modern tools like data analytics and artificial intelligence. These technologies can help real estate companies find new customers, identify people who may be interested in buying or selling their home, and match customers with the best real estate agents to meet their needs.
Real estate organizations often have access to huge amounts of market and customer data. However, the considerable volume of data makes it difficult to exploit them. With cloud computing, real estate companies can access the enormous computing power needed to process data, while only paying for the time that this infrastructure is used.
Mobility and Disaster Recovery Solutions
Another advantage of storing data in the cloud is that it can be accessed from various devices, which is a boon for the growing mobile workforce. Agents, brokers, and home buyers and sellers are increasingly using smartphones and tablets to work remotely. The cloud is much more flexible, accessible and secure than being attached to a physical hard drive or an on-premises server.
Additionally, businesses migrating to the cloud do not need to create and maintain a remote disaster recovery site, which can be labor intensive and time consuming. Instead, critical data in the cloud automatically fails over to a secondary site in the event of a disaster. All that is needed to access data in the cloud – anytime, from multiple devices, anywhere – is a strong internet connection.
Major cloud infrastructure providers have security track records that most real estate companies can’t match. They have huge teams of security professionals and the best security technologies, policies, procedures and controls available to protect information on their servers and data centers 24/7 with little or no human intervention .
Cloud security measures also support regulatory compliance and establish authentication rules for users and devices. This high level of data security is particularly important in the real estate industry, with customers sharing banking and other personal data in what is often the most important financial transaction of their lives.
Clients want their real estate transactions to be as secure as possible, and cloud infrastructure providers offer this higher level of protection.
Create an open ecosystem
On the software-as-a-service side, the cloud is the perfect way to host multiple software applications and tools that improve the productivity of agents and brokers. One way to approach this is to develop a real estate app store that includes a range of software, including CRM tools, lead generation software, open house apps, and productivity tools, all housed in the cloud.
In doing so, it creates an open ecosystem, where agents and brokers have a choice of software tools to use, including some in-house developed applications and others from third-party partners. The cloud enables an open ecosystem where agents and brokers simply decide which applications they want to use from a menu of available options. This provides flexibility while allowing for personal choice and personalized solutions for buying and selling a home and beyond.
Convenience is the new normal
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced real estate companies to conduct more business remotely, with documents shared online. Some companies have moved more transaction steps to the virtual domain, using cloud-based services to host and gather documents and collect signatures.
While some customers will continue to require face-to-face contact with agents and brokers, a significant number will embrace the convenience of a primarily online and cloud-based approach.
The industry is already seeing great benefits from cloud computing. Expect many more benefits to unfold as the industry continues to digitize its operations.
Too often, we find that not innovating today means catching up tomorrow. The benefits of cloud technologies for real estate service professionals are clear, and the price and infrastructure hurdles are entirely surmountable.
Business and IT leaders in this sector need to look beyond outdated legacy systems and start embracing the cloud, now.