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Archive for July, 2019

LandlordMax Web Based Cloud Edition – 1 Year Later

Well it’s actually closer to a year and a half if you include the initial private by invite only release of the web based LandlordMax Cloud Edition but nonetheless I will say that it was the best decision we could ever have made. It’s been a huge success!

We knew there was a lot demand but we never expected to be as massive and as dramatic as it turned out to be. We initially released the LandlordMax Cloud Edition by invite only to existing customers so that we could roll it out slowly, get customer feedback, and basically do a very managed and controlled rollout. Within a month it was clear that was not going to happen, the demand far exceeded our expectations. We did a full public release within just a few months, well ahead of our schedule, again due to the overwhelming demand. A good problem to have. And our public release exceeded our expectations!

We were initially planning on offering the installed Editions such as the Desktop Edition, the Soho Edition, and so on in tandem with the web based Cloud Edition but within a month more than 97% of all activity immediately transitioned to the web based Cloud Edition. Yes that huge a percentage in just the first month! And it only got more one sided from there. The demand was so one sided that we discontinued the previous installed Editions in favor of the web based LandlordMax Cloud Edition.

It’s interesting how much the market has shifted over time, especially in the last decade. Up until the early 2010’s everyone wanted installed software, there was almost no demand for web and cloud based property management software, and as a result very few existed. Again it was all installed software. On a side note 2008-2009 were very interesting years in that the financial crisis weeded out a lot our competitors. In any case back in the early 2010’s there was the odd request for a web based solution but it was very rare. It’s not that people wanted one or the other, I think it just wasn’t yet on people’s radars.

By around 2013 we could start to see the demand shifting. It wasn’t massive or anything but if you responded to customer support requests or pre-sales requests you could start to see some demand for web based solutions. Not a lot but some. It was more of a low rumbling in the background slowly building up steam.

Then by around 2015 the shift had become very noticeable. If I was to estimate I’d say about half the people wanted a web based solution and half wanted installed software. The key thing to note is that the demand was trending strongly towards web based cloud solutions. It was enough to get our attention. In fact that’s when I personally first mentioned here that we were going to start building a a web based version (July 2015).

Our first official announcement came a year later in late 2016. First in our email newsletter and then here. By then we had already been working on it for some time and I described some of the features we hoped to deliver with the new web based Cloud Edition of LandlordMax. Things like new filters, a reporting system that would allow custom reports, and so on. Interestingly enough, and on a very positive note, most of the features I described are now available in the Cloud Edition which is great to see that we were able to fulfil the majority of our goals.

As time passed the demand for a web based cloud solution just kept growing and growing. By 2017 it was clear that if we wanted to stay in business we had to offer a web based cloud solution. By 2018 it wasn’t even an option. At that point I believe we were one of only 2-3 solutions left that still offered installed software, everyone else was either closed for business or had transitioned. I believe that today there is only 1 installed solution left in the market. The demand for installed software has completely shifted to web based cloud solutions. There will always be a small number of people who wanted installed software but they are a shrinking minority.

The analogy I like to use is Blockbuster versus Netflix. The demand for streaming media started slow but it gained more and more momentum until Blockbuster eventually went out of business and Netflix became a huge success. There are still some people who prefer to rent movies but they are a dying breed, which is why you only see the odd niche movie rental store. Blockbuster had the opportunity to shift but for whatever reason they decided to stay with their old business model. We did NOT make that mistake, we saw the shift in demand and transitioned to meet our customers needs.

It took some time to build the web based Cloud Edition and in 2018 we did a private release by invite only of the web based LandlordMax Cloud Edition. As much as we wanted to do a slow rollout the demand was too significant and as a result we accelerated the full public release. And as I said above. within a month of releasing the web based LandlordMax Cloud Edition more than 97% of all activity immediately transitioned to the Cloud Edition. That includes both new and existing customers. And it only got more one sided from that point on.

As you would expect we’ve seen incredible growth this year. We’ve been experiencing double digit growth every single month since we released the Cloud Edition which clearly confirms we did the right decision to build a web based cloud offering.

On somewhat of a tangent I will say that we’ve also experienced some significant changes in terms of customer/technical support. The most noticeable change is that we no longer get support requests from people who lost everything because their harddrive or computer failed (with the installed software everything is only stored on the user’s computer). Less than 20% of people even have weekly backups so combined with harddrive and computer failure rates (nevermind computer viruses, etc.), well as you can imagine this was a terrible but unfortunately too common issue for which we could do nothing. Today this is no longer an issue. In my personal opinion I believe it’s one of the big motivators and attractions of web based cloud services for most people. It’s a big reason why I’ve personally changed my opinion from 2012, where I now believe cloud solutions are better than installed software for most people. I very strongly believe that way more people lose their data to failed computer systems then to failed cloud services, and by a very large margin. Most people will experience some kind of computer failure that will result in loss of data at least once every few years based on my experience so being protected against that is very valuable, especially for business critical data like that which is stored in LandlordMax.

The other really big change is that we get almost no IT related support request any more. These can range from simple questions such as my icon to start the software has disappeared to I brought my computer to an IT repair shop and now the software is missing to much more significant issues such as my antivirus has suddenly decided to incorrectly block the software’s access to the database files and so on. One of our top 3 support requests before with the installed software was how to copy and paste the license code into the software, a lot of people do not know how to copy and paste so they would manually type in the license code and all it takes is for one typo for the license to fail. In fact 9 of our top 10 support requests were all IT related and they are all completely gone now. We almost only get questions on how to operate the software, that is how to handle specific use cases and scenarios which is great. As much as we love to support our customers it’s still important to keep in mind that IT related questions are almost never due to issues with the software. In addition to improving the quality of support requests it also means that customers who are less IT inclined are not blocked due to an IT issue outside of the software such as not knowing how to download software from the internet.

Getting back to the topic at hand the feedback we’ve received has been overwhelmingly positive. Of course in addition to it being a web based cloud solution we’ve also added a lot of new features (and more have been added since that list was first created). The biggest ones being the ability to create custom reports on top of quite a few new major reports. But there are also a lot of other smaller new features such as the ability to search on any column in any table, select the columns on every table, and so on. In other words in addition to being web based we also took the opportunity to add quite a lot of new features.

Another really big benefit for both us and our customers with the software being a web based cloud system is that we can update the software with new features on a regular basis, we no longer have to wait until a major new version is released to release a ton of new features all at the same time. And we’ve definitely taken advantage of this, we’ve released a number of new features since the initial release of which you can find some listed in the LandlordMax company blog. I can’t express how much better it is to release new features on a regular basis then having to wait for new major versions. We, both us and our customers, really benefit from this.

All in all releasing the web based Cloud Edition has been an amazing success and one of the best decisions we ever did. If I could go back in time all that I would change is that we release it sooner than we did. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Our growth rate is the highest it’s ever been in the 16 years we’ve been in business! The software was showcased as a success story on Vaadin for how well it was programmed. So I can only imagine what the future holds for us at LandlordMax.






 


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