What it Means to Have a Truly Integrated Property Platform
by Sid Jain, Co-Founder & CTO
Recently I had a conversation with one of my colleagues about how much initial and ongoing manual entry is needed for buildings that use more than one system to manage their property – which is pretty much all buildings. My colleague, whose building uses Rise as its core technology platform, asked, “Why would anyone set up a complex maze of un-integrated systems with multiple profiles and logins instead of having one platform that integrates with those systems and allows for a single interface?”
My response: “Because proper integration is hard.”
Large commercial offices and residential buildings are like cities, requiring significant management and oversight. To do this effectively, property managers employ multiple technologies to cover an array of functions. These functions aren’t optional “nice to have” tasks, they are necessities like paying rent, gaining access to the building and shared spaces, receiving packages, giving access to visitors, and notifying the building of a service request that needs to be addressed, among other mission-critical tasks.
Using a single solution that does all of these things is really hard. The technology required to address each capability is complex and requires deep contextual understanding of the industry and building operations. In a perfect world, each individual piece of the tech stack would have an API (engineering lingo for Application Programming Interface, which allows programs to talk to each other) that seamlessly meshes with every other piece of the stack, enabling seamless integration. Unfortunately, that’s a far cry from reality.
If you think creating a smoothly integrated experience is an impossibility, I can tell you it’s not. If you think the building industry has already mastered bringing technology together for a seamless user experience, you must be living or working in a Rise building.
For those of you who may not live in Rise Buildings (or if you do and you’re curious), the purpose of this post is to provide a behind-the-scenes peek at how most building managers interact with technology when a new occupant moves in.
As an illustration, the typical building has at least: property management software, an accounting system, an access control system, a package delivery solution, a work order system, and maybe a reservation system. To the chagrin of many property managers, none of these systems effectively talk to each other. Every time someone new moves into their building, the manager has to log into each system separately and add the person into every one – so, not just double data entry, but sometimes quintuple or sextuple data entry! There is no copy and paste option to do this. Of course, this is incredibly monotonous and time-consuming and each entry is a fail-point for mistakes to enter each system. And, as bad as this sounds, it’s not limited to when a person moves into the building or starts working there. It happens every time the person changes their name or email address, or changes apartments or office suites.
Furthermore, the hassle isn’t limited to the building manager, it extends to the occupant, too. For each system that an occupant needs access to, there is a different sign-in process (and username and password, providing they’re using good security practices). Depending on their needs on a given day, the occupant has to log in to the appropriate individual system to register a guest, book a shared resource, pay rent, receive a package, get a parking pass, etc.
The unfortunate part of what goes on behind-the-scenes is that it doesn’t need to be this hard for either the property staff or the occupant. As my colleague asked, ”Why would anyone design it this way when it can be so much smoother and more enjoyable?”
True integration is hard but it’s worth it. When various software systems are integrated effectively, property managers and occupants only need to have one account to access all of the connected technology in the building. And by connected I mean more than just providing hyperlinks from one technology to another.
This is a dirty secret in our industry: many companies claim that they have integrated multiple technologies, when in reality they are offering a link out to another software system that requires a separate login and interface. Linking out is not integration. Anyone who tells you otherwise is marketing something they can’t or won’t do. More critically, they’re not actually addressing property managers’ and occupants’ pain points – and they certainly aren’t automating anything or improving efficiency.
Automation is a very important but often overlooked part of a good integration. Automation removes double (or triple or quadruple) data entry and, thus, becomes the one and only system a user needs to login to and interface with. Achieving this level of automation through integration is hard, but with all of the hard work happening in the background, all the user experiences is magic as they move seamlessly within the platform to book a conference room, submit a service request, or send a visitor pass to their friend. This is what Rise does and it’s how we save time for building staff and ensures a better experience for the occupant.
At Rise, we do a lot and we think we’re pretty good at it. But there are specialist pieces of software that do things our system can’t. That’s why we partner and truly integrate with best-in-class technologies to deliver everything a building needs. For this reason, although we’re often asked how Rise can be better at something when it does so much versus a company that only does one thing, the answer is simple. We don’t do a bit of everything “good enough,” we do everything better than the others because our partner ecosystem is made up of industry leaders, and our partners’ systems are integrated through Rise. By virtue of integrating deeply, we provide a seamless experience for staff and occupants – which makes us better than unintegrated products. It’s why we have properties that see a 95%+ engagement rate (check out our case study!).
As a consequence, we have invested significant resources to building numerous deep integrations to provide the most value to our clients. Whether it be Yardi, Entrata, or RealPage for accounting, ASSA ABLOY or Salto Systems for residential access control, Luxer One or Parcel Pending for package lockers, CCure, Kastle Systems or Openpath for commercial access control, Lifestart or MindBody for fitness classes, and many more, our partners are experts in their respective categories in ways that make Rise better.
As Co-Founder and CTO of Rise Buildings, I know how hard integrations are and I’ve seen buildings thrive with a platform that actually automates and empowers operations and occupants. Don’t be fooled by marketing that promises integrations when the platform simply links to other software. Linking out is not integration, and you, your properties, and your occupants deserve the best.