The recent WannaCry ransomware virus that rocked half of the globe sheds a lot of light on the problems that can come when you refuse to update your technology. I'm sure we're all guilty of it—I know I am! I once went two and a half years without updating my MacBook software...which caused it to crash pretty hard. Honestly I'm amazed it still works.
The easiest thing any business can do is nothing. It's easy to stay in your comfort zone where you know how everything works. It's easy to be afraid of making changes that come with a bit of a learning curve, as technology does. But letting that fear hold your management company back can do a lot more harm than good.
Everyone (myself included) makes excuses for themselves when it comes to catching up with technology. "Who really needs all of those new-fangled doodads, anyway?"
Well, you probably do.
Are You Losing Clients Because of Outdated Technology?
These days, upgrading to newer tech isn’t just a nicety, it’s an outright necessity. Falling behind technology trends can make your clients feel they're stepping into the past every time they hear from you. They spend all day on their devices and handsets, paying bills through an app, ordering food online, catching up on their TV shows from their tablets...and then they have to sit down and cut a check and send it in via snail mail to pay their assessments. It's not difficult, but because everything else has become easier, this simple task can feel like a chore. And because your competitors kept up with technology, your boards will always have new places to choose from, losing you valuable business.
A Cautionary Tale
Remember the Blackberry? I sure do. I loved my indestructible little handset with the rollerball in the middle. When Apple and Android began their power struggle and introduced "apps," Blackberry staunchly refused to change. I remember how disheartened I was when I realized that I was at a crossroads: keep my perfect phone…or have easy access to the Internet. I abandoned my Blackberry and it broke my heart. I spent the next several years jumping between major smartphone providers. The devices were never quite as perfect as my Blackberry, but what could I do?
Five years later, they still didn’t have an application-based platform.
Don’t be a Blackberry.
Doing it the Right Way
When a company gets good, and I mean REALLY good, at leveraging new technology, they stop following the trends, and start predicting the trends before they even hit. Amazon and their digital assistant Alexa are the perfect example. Alexa wasn't developed because Apple and Android already had similar products, or because the world suddenly had a need for non-human assistants. Alexa was developed because Amazon saw an untapped market that wasn't being catered to fully. The only similar products at the time were Google's voice-activated search engine and Siri. Alexa (then Echo) was the first device of its kind. Amazon isn't just keeping pace, they're paving the road everyone else is running on. They have cornered the market for creating solutions to problems that their consumers don't even know they have yet. This is the epitome of making technology work for you.
Finding a Happy Medium
With all of that being said, there's isn't a need in community association management to be trendsetters. Most homeowners simply want a management company that can satisfy their most common needs using technology. So take your time and find a comfortable middle ground with technology. This can be tricky, but it doesn't have to be. The best thing to keep in mind is that technology should serve one purpose above all others: making lives easier. It should be saving you and your homeowners time and effort.
Here are a few things to consider when approaching new technology:
Go All In
Face your fear of technology head-on! Don't just dip your toes in the water—fully commit. Because the biggest mistake you can make when adopting new technology is changing only minor things. An upgrade needs to be significant enough to make a positive impact on the lives of your clients (and yours!). Small changes can make homeowners more unhappy than no change at all. For example, moving your monthly newsletter from a printed mailer to an automatic email is nice, but it may not have as big an impact as allowing homeowners to pay their assessments online, or access their account information from their phone.
But Not Too Far In
Of course the flip side to that is going in too deep, or making changes too quickly. This can happen when a company fails to keep pace, and their clients leave. In an attempt to regain those clients and attract new ones, they upgrade their technology in a knee-jerk reaction without doing research, and either go for the shiniest, newest option, or try to implement all of the options at once. This is almost as dangerous as not updating at all. Don’t put yourself in a position where you’ll need to scramble at the last minute, and invest in the first thing you come across.
Take time to analyze the gaps in your company and do some serious investigation. The first thing you see might end up being the best, but make sure of that before you devote time and money into the implementation process.
Find That Sweet Spot
Of course there really isn’t a “just right” when it comes to adopting technology. Like all change, it will come with challenges and will very rarely meet every need 100% accurately, 100% of the time. But by choosing to integrate with a new platform, or add new methods of automation, you’re bettering your business. That’s the most important step you can take.
Fear of change is completely natural, especially when it comes to change that we can’t control. Technology can seem unnatural and confusing, and everyone will tell you that robots are only out to take your jobs, but that's simply not true. Technology doesn't have to be scary, and it won't be if you find the tools that make it work best for you, and embrace them.