If you’ve been keeping up to date with the tech world, you may have noticed a popular, (relatively) new trend: ‘Software as a service’ (SAAS). Basically, software developers can host their software on their own servers, and charge a fee to users who access it over the Internet – rather than selling it outright.But you probably already know that SAAS involves subscription fees and the cloud. What you might not know about are all the other benefits beyond saved money.So, to kick this off – let’s have a quick look at what SAAS is all about. Why did everyone flock to the cloud so suddenly? The move across to cloud software is, in many ways, very similar to the move across the power grid. That’s right, a good ol’ fashioned analogy. It’s story time;
The power grid
In the late 1800’s, when electricity was still relatively new, all factories had their very own generators. They were great big, coal-guzzling things that lived in the basement with a team of blokes who kept them working. Electricity certainly sped up production out of sight, but the generators were far from perfect. They chugged fuel (making them expensive to run) and if one broke, everything came to a grinding halt until someone could fix it.Then the Edison Power Company built the first turbine power station and power grid. All of a sudden, factories could pay for electricity to be piped in from a reliable source and people could come home for dinner without tramping coal dust into the lovely, clean carpet. The basement generator was a jalopy of the past.Now, let’s consider software. It powers most businesses nowadays and certainly speeds up production out of sight. In-house servers live in the basement with a team of IT guys who keep them going, and if they crash the office stops. You can probably see where this is going….Imagine if you could pay for a steady stream of software to be piped in, just like electricity?Well, you can. That’s what software as a service is all about. Thanks to the cloud, developers are able to host their stuff on their own servers and charge a nominal subscription fee for access. But, there are more benefits than just dodging the cost of your own in-house server – and there’s more to being a SAAS provider than just charging a subscription fee.We try to deliver the entire SAAS package;
- SAAS means constant development
- We give users a say in the improvement of Rex
- Rex is available to agents in the field
- We offer support and training
- We protect your sensitive data for you
At the end of the day, SAAS is about putting clients first and delivering a damn good service. In that sense, we strive to keep Rex the SAASiest CRM on the market.
Nominal subscription fees for bleeding-edge software
Because SAAS is deployed on the cloud, developers are able to push new updates and features out as soon as they’re working. This means the software you’re leasing for peppercorn rent keeps you up-to-the-minute with the latest tech trends.We release significant updates on at least a monthly basis, and to our knowledge we’re the only one’s in the industry who do. These are more than just patches and bug fixes – we’re always adding new functionality and expanding the spread of the Rex platform. Bug fixes and patches don’t count.Last month, for example, we released our new integrations with REI Forms Live and Realworks Online. In March we released Email Engagements. Before that we released our REINZ integration. This month, we’ve released our integration with RP Data (and soon PriceFinder). We’ll continue to add new functionality every month until the robots overthrow humanity.
Because Rex’s development is funded by our subscriptions (you guys pay our wages, obviously) we give users a say in its direction. A lot of our functionality is actually the brainchild of our clients themselves.Our ‘Suggest a Feature’ page is one of our best assets. Users can propose and vote for new features that they’d like to see in Rex. No one really knows what tools our users need more than our users, so it makes sense. In February, for example, we released email bounce notifications, as suggested and voted for by our clients.
Access your software anywhere
Devices like iPads can now use high-level applications like Rex (even with their piddly processors and tiny little hard drives) because the software they’re ‘running’ is hosted over the Internet.All your data is stored elsewhere and all the calculating is done on servers with processors powerful enough to handle it. You can access your office’s entire database and use all the functionality you need out in the field on your iPad.Rex allows you to take your office with you wherever you go. It’s all there on your computer in the office, iPad at an open home and laptop on your kitchen table.
Stop fretting about security
Having someone else store your data means you get to pass the responsibility of keeping it safe onto them. Sure the Internet looks nice all dressed up in it’s figleaf kitten pictures – but I’m sure you need no warning about the evil lurking just beneath the surface. It’s nice to know that you can pass the heavy baton of security onto your software providers.At Rex, we store all our clients’ data with Amazon. They maintain some of the most secure servers on Earth. In fact, Amazon are so secure that Twitter and even the US military use their servers as well. We’re talking encryption at the same standard as most of the world’s major banks.Plus, hosting with Amazon means that in the unlikely event of a hardware failure, any downtime will be minutes, not hours. (We can’t see this happening anytime soon though).
Support, training and usability
Often you pay and that’s the end of your relationship with your software provider. It’s like buying Ikea furniture – it comes disassembled in a packet and the rest is up to you. Sure you get an assembly manual in thirty different languages, replete with fun diagrams - but if you have any trouble with it you’re on your own. Ikea doesn’t come over and help you build it. They have your money already.We believe that (like any tool) software is only useful if you know how to actually use it. It should be built to be as user friendly as humanely possible and come with a lot more than Ikea’s Lego instructions to help you use it.From the very beginning, we’ve had usability in mind when designing Rex. There’s a lot of features that need to be incorporated when you’re making an all-in one real estate CRM. We found that most of the existing software had far too much functionality just tacked on – almost like an afterthought. They were fragmented and difficult to wrap your head around.So Rex is as practical and simple as possible, so everyone can make the most out it. Our interfaces are inspired by software you’re already familiar with, like Facebook and Google.We also offer training videos, help documentation, webinars and a support team to stand by and help with any issues. You have everything you need to start using Rex as soon as you’re on board. After all, you’re paying for a service – you deserve it.Support work in-house, right next to the developers, so if anyone reports a bug we can fix it immediately. They even have a direct link into JIRA - our developers’ backlog of things to do – so if an issue was to appear they can bring it up immediately with the developers.
Cost of software as a service
Because it’s no longer necessary to have your own in-office server, it’s also no longer necessary to have an IT department. With the constant updates, support and training, your software provider takes over that role.A lot of smaller agencies don’t really worry about that cost – their offices were never big enough to warrant an expensive server or IT department anyway – so how would SAAS benefit them?Looking back at the electricity company from the very beginning of this post – most SAAS prices vary depending on the users consumption of the product. You pay based on the amount of storage space you need and users you have.At Rex, we have two separate tiers of the product so smaller agencies that don’t need all the functionality a larger agency requires won’t have to pay as much. Extras that mean we have to charge more are optional – things like add-ons, additional users and extra storage space –– so you can tailor your package to suit your agency’s price range. You pay for what you use.
The Rex 'software as a service' package
We love software as a service at Rex because it gives us a much closer connection with our users than if we had decided to ‘take the money and run’ as The Steve Millar Band would recommend. It’s more than just client feedback and training. We have a ‘Rexperts’ Facebook group so we can connect personally with our users to share ideas and discuss Rex. We’re all part of the Rex family.We’ve built our API as open as possible so we can connect to all your other real estate tools, and so our tech-savvy users can build their own integrations for their agencies - at the end of the day, we’re striving to be the full package. We stay up to date with all the latest technologies, and add more every day – we work hard to make Rex the last CRM you’ll ever have to buy.