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Aspasia Cloud Informational Series – No.4

publication date: Jul 28, 2010
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Aspasia cloudVery few of us run our businesses solely for altruistic reasons; the motivation is nearly always to generate a profit which in turn leads to a better life style with greater freedom and independence. With this in mind this month’s edition focuses on the effect Aspasia Cloud can have on an agent’s profitability resulting from the associated business benefits to be expected from our own interpretation and use of cloud technology. Increasing profitability results from a combination of improved sales and reduced costs; we’ll consider these two areas in turn.

Sales

Historically, growing sales often meant spending large sums of money on marketing and of course this can still be effective today – awareness is still the first step towards a purchase. However, the successful smart operator’s main focus these days is increasingly on customer service. A good example is Amazon who have built a huge worldwide business and transformed retailing by providing customers with a user experience so convenient and easy to use that it has become indispensable to many. Their area of business activity has been transformed by focusing on customer service.

So this is why we have designed Aspasia Cloud to enhance the experience of an agent’s customer by providing mechanisms for them to conduct their business with the agency more in keeping with today’s digital environment. More detail can be found on this in article two of this Series. However, providing local customers with a level of personal service that differentiates the agent from the competition is probably the surest way of increasing sales.

Costs

It is an indisputable fact that the adoption of cloud computing technology can have a significant impact on reducing the costs of a business. It represents the main reason why companies are migrating to this new computing paradigm in such large numbers. True cloud computing either completely removes or significantly reduces the need for complex and expensive IT systems and associated support.

In our own company, for instance, we have ‘ditched’ all our servers, network operating systems, desktop based software applications like email clients, word processors, spreadsheets and so on and now use online equivalents in the form of Google Apps. If you are concerned that this might represent a threat to the security of your data (ironically it is more likely to be safer in the ‘cloud’) you can automatically back up almost everything to a local machine. Everything is now available to us everywhere on any internet connected device. It is changing the dynamics of our business and potentially saving us a lot of money. Indeed, we are confident that our ‘IT spend’ will be reduced by something in the order of 75 per cent, a considerable saving.

Being a true (not pseudo) cloud computing product, Aspasia Cloud also offers savings and benefits to agencies in addition to a fundamental move towards an ‘optional’ ability for agents to allow their customers to do more for themselves if they so wish, just like they do with Amazon, banks, insurance companies, travel bookings etc, via the internet. And herein lies the other potentially big cost saving for an agency business; the ability to operate with a reduced and more consistent staff overhead. The emphasis is more and more towards eliminating administrative chores and allowing staff to focus on their ability to utilise their professional expertise in the pursuit of a publicly acknowledged higher level of customer service.

A note of caution

Depending on where you start from it may be the case that you have difficulty relating these concepts to real everyday experience on the shop floor and within an industry that has hardly earned a reputation for innovation in the past. It is true that when things are going along relatively smoothly and a business is making money there is a temptation to just do more of the same. But as the saying goes, ‘do what you have always done, get what you always got!’

Aspasia cloudFor those that want to see revolutionary change rather than a slow evolution, they need to really sit up and take notice of what is going on in other industries around us, and have the courage to think it through properly and apply the learning to their business. To some, it might appear that perhaps residential lettings might be more of a candidate for change than residential sales due to there being more inherent administration. But this type of thinking could miss the real opportunity.

More than the sum of the parts

Drawing this all together in terms of business benefits might therefore be summarised by alluding to an enhanced level of customer service leading to an associated increase in sales. This is coupled with a significant reduction in the costs to an agency, both of which contribute directly to improved profitability – a common claim by suppliers to this market.

What is different about cloud computing in general, and specifically with Aspasia Cloud, is that we are talking about a substantive shift in the ability for agents to remodel their businesses, whilst still preserving whatever elements of the ‘old’ world they prefer. Thus, change can be a gradual and more acceptable evolutionary process. Not only will this present new opportunities but it will help to safeguard the agent from threats to the status quo that are beginning to appear from many quarters as we discussed last month.

As this series goes on we will endeavour to get closer to the ground and explain in more detail what specifically we have changed and how agents can grasp these new opportunities.

For further information go to www.aspasia.net. Previous articles in the series can be found at www.propertydrum.com/articles/aspasiacloud