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Aspasia Cloud Informational Series – No.1

publication date: May 1, 2010
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PhoneThere is something quite radical happening around us related to how we store, access and manage information. It has been made possible by the relentless adoption of, and access to, the Internet. This is leading to quite different expectations from customers related to the type and level of service they need and this is apparent in our own industry, for example, by the rapid migration of advertising from newspapers to the portals. If you can get information readily and easily 24 hours a day at a time and place determined by you, why would you have it any other way?

Meeting expectations

But it is not just accessing the information that is important, it is being able to interact with a supplier and ‘doing business’ with that person quickly and efficiently when it suits you.

Consider how much easier it is today to conduct your finances online, make travel arrangements, do your shopping, follow your favourite football team or keep in touch with family and friends. So it’s no surprise really that the wind of change is beginning to rustle around the world of residential sales, lettings and property management. Customers are expecting access to digital information in many areas of their lives and in ways convenient to them.

There will always be sceptics who will cling on to the notion that agency work is a people business and so it is. Moreover, the pragmatic view is that there will always be a role for an agent in this business due largely to the size, significance and importance of the transactions involved. What is changing are the communication aspects of the job and elements related to automated administrative tasks and transactions. It is likely that there won’t be so many people in the business in the future but those who are still involved will be much more focused on their core skills and less concerned with peripheral matters like IT or administration.

Their businesses are also likely to be more profitable. Of course this change won’t happen overnight but it is starting now and it is necessary to look to the future and embrace the change.

The migration to the Internet is also having a seismic effect on the world of computing and information technology. The sixties and seventies saw the era of mainframe computing, whilst from the eighties to the present day we have witnessed the dominance of desktop computing involving complicated machines and operating systems. This decade has seen a further revolution with companies like Google and Facebook experiencing exponential growth.

The point is that the information we are using is on the Internet, in the ‘cloud’, it is no longer our responsibility to worry about hardware, software, backups, networks, et al. All we need is a browser and a device that is connected to the Internet to use it. So if we are now entering the world of cloud computing what does it mean to agents?

MonitorDefining the ‘cloud’

‘Cloud computing’ is a term that has many different interpretations according to who you are and what you want from it. Some even believe that it is just hype (less so now) and in spite of definitions that can be found on the web in practice its use varies a lot, but a common theme is that some or all of the data is hosted on the web. Some will suggest that what we previously referred to as ‘ASP’ or ‘SaaS’ or even the use of Citrix is to be considered cloud computing and they are entitled to their view.

But that is not what we mean with Aspasia Cloud. If it was then the current version of Aspasia, which was one of the pioneers of web based software in our industry, could similarly be regarded as a cloud computing product but we don’t regard it in that way because, like other products, it has certain restrictions or limitations. For example it requires a certain type of browser (IE) and also requires Microsoft Word which is currently a desktop, rather than cloud based product. Nor can it be used on a mobile phone or a Mac for example.

Total Freedom 

For us ‘cloud’ means that the customer has total freedom to use our software on any Internet connected device that can run a browser and in addition can use the Aspasia Cloud diary, contacts and email facilities from any mobile phone even if it is incapable of running a browser. This latter facility is made possible because we have integrated Aspasia Cloud with Google Apps. So an agent using Aspasia Cloud doesn’t necessarily need servers, software, email servers, networks, IT staff, backups, etc. and has complete freedom to operate from any device anywhere provided there is access to the Internet. In practice an agent will normally have a computer of some sort (it really doesn’t matter which, perhaps even the new iPad) a wireless router and a printer (although even the printer is only required if you really must print a sheet of paper).

To provide this complete independence and freedom the emphasis has also been moved from printed communications to electronic equivalents. Even signatures can be handled electronically within Aspasia Cloud; the need for printed output is almost totally eradicated, although realistically we don’t expect most of our customers to take this leap overnight. It will be a gradual process whilst they gain confidence in these new and more efficient methods which will be explained in more detail later in this informational series. Indeed, Aspasiacommunications throughout Aspasia Cloud have been totally revamped to better represent our digital age and will fit better with methods more familiar to the younger generation whilst at the same time allowing customers to retain traditional methods if appropriate or still desired.

So our interpretation of ‘cloud’ means more about freedom, independence, integration with other web based services (like Google Apps) and having the ability to focus exclusively on your own professional expertise. It is much more than just storing information on the Internet.

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