When it comes to technology, most agents (myself included at the time) use consumer technology to run their businesses because it’s less expensive and often easier to use than “business” level solutions. As Apple announced their new “iCloud” service yesterday I came away feeling like they just launched a game changer in the consumer technology industry.
Apple has built a system in iCloud where most media (photos, videos, music, calendar etc.) from your iOS devices (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad) and computers (PC/Mac) is automatically shared and distributed to up to 10 devices that use your Apple ID, for free.
Here are a five ways this will change how real estate teams run their businesses:
iMessage – While you could previously communicate with your team through text message/MMS and third party apps, iMessage makes it easy to send group messages that include text, audio and video. With delivery and read receipts, you’ll know when messages get to the right people, when they’re read and if someone is typing a response to you.
Practical Uses: Communicating showing changes, coordinating open houses and planning events with your team in real-time.
Photo Stream – Part of iCloud’s free service offering is the ability to save photos to your photo stream for 30 days where you can access them from any of your devices. So, in other words, when you take a picture on your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad it will automatically be sent to any other devices and computers that use your Apple ID. You can also add photos to your photo stream from a computer and have near instant access to them on your iOS devices.
Practical Uses: Send new listing photos to your team as you take them so you can cut down on the amount of time it takes to create marketing materials for a new listing. You could also ask your team to send listing photos to YOU so you can share samples of your work with a potential listing client, in their home.
Document Sync - If you have Mac computers and iOS devices, the new document sync feature in iCloud will be a huge timesaver. Using the iOS versions of Keynote (presentations; $9.99), Numbers (spreadsheets; $9.99) and Pages (flyer creation and word processor; $9.99), you can create and edit documents from your iOS device or on a computer. No matter where you make the edits, all of your devices will have the latest version automatically.
Practical Uses: Have your marketing person create a new listing flyer with photos you sent from your iPhone and have them save it to iCloud where you can make changes on your iPhone/iPad and send it back; all without having to be in the office or on a computer.
If you have contracts formatted in Pages, you’ll be able to get the latest paperwork sent directly to you. Taking it a step further, you could even collaborate with your marketing team to customize listing presentations and have them sent directly to your iPad.
Practical Uses: Imagine meeting with prospective buyer clients for the first time and, using Airplay and an Apple TV in your office conference room, showing them videos of the neighborhoods they’re interested in and the homes you’ll be viewing that day. If you’re meeting a homeowner, you may want to bring the Apple TV along to connect it to their HDTV and present a multimedia presentation.
The Apple TV is very easy to use and is small enough to fit in most bags/briefcases. All you have to do is connect it to a power source, get it connected to the tv (HDMI only), internet (this is where a mobile tethering plan becomes useful!) and start your presentation. Now you can have a 50″ HD presentation showcasing videos, photos and your web presence that will help set you apart from your competitors.
Calendar Sync – Keeping your calendar in sync used to be a part of the MobileMe paid service but is now free with iCloud. Using calendar sync, you can add events to your calendar from a Mac or PC and have it automatically update your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch.
Practical Uses: When you’re managing a real estate team, your calendar needs to be up to date with times that your team can schedule appointments for you so you can spend more time working with clients. Using the new calendar sync feature in iCloud, it’s easy for your team to schedule listing and buyer appointments and add events like home inspections and closings to your calendar.
What remains to be seen is how the thousands of iOS developers will take advantage of the APIs in iCloud. I think it’s very possible that we’ll see apps that allow you to send Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint files, create panoramic photos and add them to the cloud and much more.
Do you plan to use iCloud in your business? Any potential uses I missed? Let me know in the comments below!