Have you moved to the cloud yet? If not, you may want to start packing up your data now. What was once thought of as an untrustworthy trend that would compromise sensitive data is proving to be not only safe but also more cost-effective than traditional models of data storage for businesses from every sector.
Gregory McDonald is the CEO of Cloudstar, a cloud computing solution tailored to the needs of the real estate, title insurance, and mortgage industry. He explained some of the advantages of the cloud for real estate professionals when I spoke to him.
According to IDG Enterprises 2016 Cloud Computing Executive summary, at least 70% of U.S. organizations use some form of cloud computing, be it private, public, or a mix of different cloud computing models. The cloud is here to stay and it’s growing. Here are some things to consider before making the move.
What is cloud computing?
Cloud computing is the storage and delivery of data over the internet. Unlike traditional data storage, management, and processing where servers are maintained on the premises, cloud computing uses a network of remote servers on the Internet to do the work.
“You end the cycle of recurring hardware costs,” says Gregory. “This means no more servers to pay for [if they] break, or eventually replace… Gone are the days of surprise bills from your local IT consultant for the maintenance of that equipment.”
Why title agents and real estate attorneys should use cloud computing
Investing in technology is one of the most important aspects of growing your title company. Cloud computing has proven itself to be a reliable solution for other industries looking to leverage developing technology to not just grow but to eclipse the competition.
Five reasons why title agents and real estate attorneys should use the cloud
- It will make the move to digital closings easier
- Your biggest clients are already there
- It’s safe
- It’s cost-effective
It will make the move to digital closings easier
Increased collaboration is one of the greatest benefits of cloud computing. Our world has been forever changed by mobile devices. Consumers expect to be able to buy anything on their phone or desktop, and homebuyers are no different. A total of 265 million homebuyers can now enjoy a fully online closing process across the country.
Experienced real estate professionals will be important guides in the process, but change won’t always be easy to navigate. “The biggest challenge the title agents will face as fully digital closings become the norm,” says Gregory, “will be maintaining the human element of the transaction. The challenge will be for those serving this industry to pull themselves away from technology and serve the customer and to address the customer’s questions and concerns.”
This move to digital closings is inevitable and cloud computing will be one of the most important tools for title agents and real estate attorneys to smoothly implement a business operations plan to meet the demand.
Your biggest clients are already there
“With regards to change, the industry as a whole tends to be slow moving. For example, we have witnessed the “cloudification” of technology within the title industry start to come alive just within the last several years, while other industries have been fully onboard 5 years ago,” says Gregory.
Those on the financing side have been using this technology to accelerate the loan process for some time now. Cloud providers have made strides in encryption, security, and adherence to regulations in order to meet the demands of the mortgage industry. The power of cloud computing allows for these businesses, especially lenders offering niche financing products, to engage with consumers remotely and securely store sensitive personal information.
Given the 24/7 nature of a Realtor’s life, accessing important information safely anytime and anywhere is especially valuable. Cloud computing provides the perfect solution for these busy professionals managing tons of data and documentation while on the go.
A new survey of consumers show that mortgage consumers of all ages are demanding more online solutions. Nearly one-third of homebuyers prefer websites that allow them to do their own research when purchasing a home. Lenders and realtors want to be the first to adapt to technological changes that allow them to be more accessible to their end users and provide a seamless closing process.
Of course, we would never suggest you do something just because it’s popular. The lag in the title industry specifically to adopt new technology has served some agents and attorneys well in that the safety of cloud computing has been proven.
“Cloudstar provides our customers peace of mind because they understand that they have a team of experts, on call, 24 hours a day, every day of the year whose job it is to ensure that their systems are available, online, protected, redundant, and secure.”
One drawback is that not all cloud providers are the same, and there is no strict standard for implementation and management, and the level of customer service will vary from non-existent to concierge style. Those in the title industry will want to take care to vet each option available for regulatory compliance. Cloudstar is one of the few providers that cater specifically to real estate and title professionals.
The key to safely migrating to the cloud depends on your business and your provider. Neil Rerup, author of “Cyber Peril” and founder of Enterprise Cybersecurity Architects (ECSA) cautions “The cloud is not for everyone. Like with all solutions, you have to weigh what level of risk you are comfortable dealing with.”
The key is doing your research and getting to know the business practices and end-user experience of each provider.
You’re in the title business, not a data center specialization. While most title agents strive to ensure they and their company abides by ALTA best practices and regulations safeguarding sensitive information, maintenance of server farms that house that information isn’t a part of your daily workload.
Title agents and real estate attorneys benefit from partnering with cloud providers with specialized services. Gregory explains, ”Managed Cloud options, such as Cloudstar, include all of the required maintenance, support, licensing updates, security patches and, most important, redundancy. This is because, as the customer, you benefit from the cloud company’s economy of scale,whereas it may be cost prohibitive to build out two sets of server farms and install backup generators at your office.”
Cloud computing has created a revolutionary solution for small businesses, offering access to a range of capabilities that typically only larger companies can afford.
A study from Microsoft found that almost 70 percent of businesses reinvested savings from cloud computing back into their business helping drive overall growth.
In addition to savings from no longing having to attend to your own server, other cost savings include:
- Lower utility costs because air conditioning isn’t required to run day and night year round to cool servers.
- Reduced labor since your company will no longer need an army of IT experts to fix daily issues.
- A pay-for-what-you-use pricing model is common among cloud providers, so you can pick the plan that works best for your company now and then upgrade as you grow.
- Additional savings passed on to customers as cloud providers are able to spread costs among each organization utilizing the same back-end infrastructure. As the client base grows, providers have a vested interest in maintaining security and high levels of functionality.
Data is the most valuable asset in business, and it’s especially treated with care in a heavily regulated industry like title insurance. Many still grapple with fear of how this technology will affect their control over their data. “One of the biggest mistakes we make as humans, whether in negotiation or in business, is assuming that all decisions are based on facts, or as a result of intelligent deduction; many are not, many are emotionally driven and these emotionally driven decisions hold companies back.”
Gregory says at this point, the fear of making the switch to “the cloud” is largely based on emotions rather than the facts.
“Once decision makers get over their emotional roadblocks, they too will understand that “The Cloud” located in some of the safest buildings in the nation, is a safer place for their data than in a server closet down the hallway in a rented office.”
Gregory encourages title agents who are still hesitant to make the switch,“What title agents and real estate attorneys need to know to adapt to change is simple; just do it. As Stephen Hawking said ‘Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.’”