OPTECH Town Hall: Managing Your Data

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Multifamily is generating more data than ever before in the history of the industry, with new technologies bringing in previously untapped information. But the industry has yet to unite on data integration strategies or even the way data is quantified and defined.

During the 2022 OPTECH Town Hall, Managing Your Data, industry experts including SmartRent CEO Lucas Haldeman discussed the evolution of data in multifamily, as well as the road ahead.

“I think we should challenge ourselves as an industry to have more and better structured data,” Haldeman said.

“We’ll certainly always have unstructured data, and we’ll figure out how to deal with that, but there are some very basic things that we could do to make all of our lives a lot simpler as owners and managers.”

For multifamily to fully embrace a wide-scale change in data management practices, Haldeman believes the push will need to come from owners.

“We’re at the first wave, where owners are starting to say, ‘Hey, good enough isn’t good enough anymore.’ We’ve been happy if it’s better than an Excel spreadsheet if it’s better than a paper ledger,” Haldeman said.

“We’re finally at the point where we’re trying to fix it, but it’s going to take a tremendous amount of cooperation, which can only be forced on all of us by the owners demanding it. It’s time for owners to say, ‘This is the experience I want, and if you’re not going to provide it, I’ll find a vendor who will."

Transformative business models and data strategies stem from integration. Working in multiple systems creates chaos, and it is imperative that suppliers bringing new products to market start with integrations in mind. Integrations enable single dashboard control, which provides significant advantages. But each property management system, as well as touring and maintenance workflow platforms, have different APIs, meaning products will work differently and data won’t necessarily be uniform.

Also, new products emerge daily and integration is never complete. Continually evolving data privacy laws place an emphasis on data security, so working with compliant and credentialled vendors is essential to avoiding liability concerns.

“If anyone is not an expert in data privacy they better learn to be, because this is not going away,” Haldeman said. “About four years ago people woke up and said, ‘Wait, why is Facebook free? You’re doing what with my information?’ People care about that.”

As an intimate industry, multifamily has a responsibility to protect resident data and preserve its people-first reputation.

“We are the most personal thing in people’s lives; we are their homes and where they live. It’s good to be proactive with data security. We actually put in our privacy policy that we don’t give ourselves the right to sell your data. It’s always better to be aggressive toward privacy than giving yourself opportunities in the future."