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A view from New York Alister Maple-Brown

With Alister Maple-Brown CEO of Rockend, Australia & New Zealand's Leading Property Software provider.

Alister Maple-Brown is the CEO of Rockend, Australia & New Zealand’s Leading Property Software Provider. After attending the Inman conference in New York City, he was impressed with what he saw but also felt, “We've got to be proud about what's going on in Australia. I think there's a lot of great innovation. There's a lot of great development. I think what we do is excellent. I say that not in the context of ‘we need to rest on our laurels’, because we always need to be pushing really hard and learning what is out there, but I think we have a very well-educated market. We have very well trained and very well-educated individuals who service the market, the agents and the operators.”

Travelling to New York he witnessed some incredible innovations, but he also saw how disparate the United States market is as well – simply because the USA is so enormous. He says, “There are a lot of different things going on in different parts of the country because of the scale. It's such a huge place. They do some things differently. They do some things the same. I think the fundamentals of technology, however, are effectively the same. They're trying to do things more efficiently, more effectively. They're trying to save time. They're trying to provide a superior service to their end users.

There are so many ways to slice and dice all of those different focuses, and so the technology here is varied, but I haven't seen anything in the last three days that has really rocked my world and said, ‘Wow, this is something incredibly different or new’.”

Alister believes that we are also efficient and effective in Australia as well – we’re pulling data together; providing a lot of virtual reality; we have sophisticated advertising; platforms are sophisticated and productivity software solutions are working together more closely.

He sees the transition from desktop software into the cloud as a very exciting development, which will appeal to end customers. Clients and companies want to do things really quickly, on demand. End customers won't settle for anything less. He says, “I think it's something we need to help the broader market understand the benefits of, and therefore, our customers the benefits of, because it's about transparency. It's about access to information.” By things moving online, greater integration between different software and services is more possible. Alister says, “Businesses and suppliers need to be able to create those environments for their customers.”

Rockend’s own product PropertyTree is moving to the cloud and the transition is providing many challenges. Providing the seamless end user customer experience presents all sorts of hurdles for software developers as they have to consider how a range of software components and graphical user interfaces interact.

Alister explains, “We are embracing the whole concept of Application Programming Interface (API), which is very different to what we've done in the past. That was not so much a result of not wanting to be able to exchange data back and forth between systems. It was just the core challenge around doing it with desktop software, because with desktop software, you've got so many variables.

You've got service networks, firewalls, internet connections, and fraud and security considerations as well. At the other, end you've got this really challenging technical environment to share data. We've always wanted to share data, but technically it can be challenging.”

He continues, “In the new world of pure cloud software as a service, it is almost inherent, and it really is the promise of where this technology can take customers and their customers, which is the key. It's that access to information. We see it in the great systems around the world, Salesforce. com, the accounting system Xero, Dropbox, to name just a few. But the value of all of those systems is in the way that they can interact with other systems. We are fundamentally changing the way we're approaching our technology platform to allow thirdparty access, to take data and put data back in, but in a very controlled manner. The control is the key thing, because if you don't have control over what is going in and out of databases, then it's a recipe for disaster.”

Alister can also foresee a time when there will be one database for property management and sales. He says, “The interesting thing about the Australian marketplace is you've got these really strong businesses, wonderful sales businesses, but they have wonderful property management businesses, and in theory they're meant to complement each other. In reality, they don't nearly as much as they could or should. Partially, that's to do with the fact that the technology is not supplementing the ability to leverage that.”

But Alister concurs that one system is definitely where we need to go. The technology has to move to meet the consumer expectation and he and Rockend will take us there.

" Clients and companies want to do things really quickly, on demand. End customers won't settle for anything less. "


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