By Jenny Lytle, General Manager, Commercial Emerging Business, Chamberlain Group
The world was already digital, embracing cloud computing, smartphone apps and video conferencing, long before the pandemic. Now, the new normal is to work from home, meet on Zoom, shop online and chill with streaming. We engage with the world from home. And it’s more important than ever that home is a safe, secure, and digitally connected space.
Your Introduction to the Internet of Things and Property Management
Our engagement with and reliance on smart technology has accelerated. The iPhone was first released in 2007. That was the unofficial start of connecting consumers with the computer in their pocket that then connected to other people, processes, data, and even other devices.
There’s a name for this human-device connection. It’s the Internet of Things (IoT). And IoT is particularly relevant to owners of multi-family communities and the people they hire to manage them. That’s because IoT enables smart tech.
In plain English, smart tech is a software application that is hosted on a secure internet server. You may have heard it described as “the cloud” or cloud-based software, even web-based software. They mean the same thing. Here’s the important thing. Web-based software can connect with other software and devices, video intercom hardware, for example.
Given this background, I see three rapidly emerging smart tech trends that are important to the future success of building owners and managers.
Trend #1: Accurate Data is a Valuable Asset
Property owners who are still using manual entry for prospect/resident data are setting themselves up for failure. Manual entry is time-consuming as it must be entered in multiple places, making it prone to error and a very inefficient use of a manager’s time. And tracking sensitive resident information with paper-based documents is far less secure than managing that data in the cloud where only permissioned users can access the records.
The data that you capture about a prospective tenant must be accurate because you are laying the groundwork for information that enables you to determine if this prospect is a good candidate for your property. Web-based property management systems like Yardi, Real Page, Entrata and others can act as the repository of all resident data.
The great benefit of prop tech software is that information is entered once and can automatically populate to other parts of the system. Even better, other web-based software, like access control systems, even integrated hardware, can connect with prop tech software. Again, without re-entering any data. This is the Internet of Things in action, delivering seamless connections between people, software, data, and devices.
Trend #2: Web-based Property Management Tech Connects to Digital Amenities Residents Want
The web-based prop tech that helps managers and property owners run their multi-family communities is also the foundation for delivering the digital amenities that tenants’ value.
From my perspective, I see that the big trend in 2022 and beyond will be consumer, or resident, convenience. That means touchless, smartphone access. Phones will turn on lights and open doors – any door, buildings, homes, cars, club houses, the gym. Community owners and managers who want to attract and keep great residents need to understand that the digital future is already here and those who ignore it will be left behind.
Millennials Really Want Smart Home Apps
A study from TechZone showed that 86 percent of millennials1 are willing to pay more for a home or rental property if it has smart home technology. Safety is becoming more important for consumers and for property owners. And that brings us to the third trend.
Trend #3: Smart Access Security for Residents and Property Owners
The proactive property owner/manager is focused on two key issues around security: the safety of the property for its residents and the protection of the property itself. Research from Software Advice2 indicated that 34 percent of those who took part in the survey said that smart home technology was the most important smart amenity.
Community security and a sense of personal safety are important to the apartment seeker. Pair this with smartphone apps that allow residents to control access to their building, to see who’s at the door with integrated video cams and enable one-time entry for cleaners or repair people and you have a winning combination
So yes, there’s an app for smart access control. And if you are using smart prop tech software to manage your property, the two will work together seamlessly. This is yet another example of the Internet of Things and why property owners and managers should use this technology to attract and keep residents.
Perimeter Access Control is Not a New Thing—Smart Access Control Is
Security has always been, in part, about perimeter access control. Consider the walls of Jericho, a fortification that dates to at least 8,000 BCE. Or Hadrian’s wall, built sometime around 122 CE, to keep the barbarians from the north out of Roman-controlled Britannia.
Happily, we live in the age of smart tech that simplifies access control with a combination of video intercom hardware and web-based software that, as mentioned above, also enables smart access management apps for residents.
Future Ready Prop Tech with Integrated Access Control
One of the great advantages of the Internet of Things is that smart prop tech can connect access control management software that in turn connects with hardware like video intercoms. This connection enables the owner/manager to view every point of entry and exit on the property from a laptop. If, as an owner/investor, you’re not always onsite, the ability to work from home, or anywhere, is both convenient and productive. This is also true for managers who may need to work from home, at least part of the time.
The Internet of Things is here, and this is what it delivers to property owners who are willing to take advantage of it.
Automation: Leave behind manual data entry and multiple spreadsheets to manage the property.
Collaboration: Connect and exchange information with other applications without re-entering data.
Visibility: Get a single version of truth about the status of your property. Everything is conveniently kept in one place. When you make updates, they happen in real-time. Convenient dashboards deliver resident and property information in a few clicks.
Security: Web-based applications are very secure with ultramodern encryption and backups of your data. You won’t get that with the server in the backroom.
It is my belief that property owners who do not transition their portfolio management to cloud-based prop tech software will be unable to keep pace. The Internet of Things that connects people, processes devices and even hardware, also provides real-time error-free data, time-saving automation and the ability to connect with other software that can deliver the smartphone amenities residents want.
About the Author
Jenny Lytle is the General Manager of Access Controls and Community Services at LiftMaster®, the number one brand of professionally installed residential garage door openers, commercial door operators and gates. With more than 15 years of experience in product portfolio management and pricing strategy, Jenny heads up LiftMaster’s Access Control portfolio leading the charge to bring connected, reliable and smart access control solutions to multi-family communities.
Prior to joining LiftMaster, Jenny worked at Performance Health, where she led the Global Product Portfolio, Global Pricing Group and built a new business unit. Before joining Performance health, she spent 7 years at The Boston Consulting Group, focused on growth strategy. She began her career as a private equity investor and as an investment banking analyst for JPMorgan. Jenny holds an MBA with honors from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business and holds a B.S. in Finance from The University of Illinois.
1 Source: Millennials Willing to Pay Higher Rents for Smart Home Features
2 Source: Smart Apartments: What Technology Matters to Renters