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Brent Williams' Apartment Blog

Thoughts, comments, and ideas about the overall multifamily industry, as well as a property-specific focus on resident retention and apartment marketing.

Who Will Be the Mobile Platform App?

We have seen ILS apps for a while, but more and more we are seeing apps for services within the resident space.  At the AIM Conference, two companies at the startup competition, Remotely and Parcel Pending, both had a resident-facing app or a planned one, and there are rent payment and maintenance request apps already in existence.  Innovation like this is fantastic for the industry, but it begs the question:  Does a resident want to have 10 different apps to manage their apartment? 

I've talked before about the potential for one property management software becoming an open integrator and full platform for other services in the industry, and I wonder if a similar opportunity has arisen in the mobile space.  Rather than several different apps, could one app be a consolidator that allows other apps to be embedded?  To be clear, I do not have experience in app development, so my question may be more theoretical than practical, but it appears that there are opportunities to clean up the user experience for the resident as we provide more apps to manage their lives.

If there is a possibility to create such a nested app opportunity, it appears that we will see different companies vying to be the "platform" by which other apps are integrated.  And if so, it creates a another point at which technology based companies in multifamily continue to meet up to integrate and provide a seamless solution to both multifamily professionals and their clients.

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This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Brent, you know what I'm thinking, right? What software gives daily guidance to community managers and could be the launching pad for EVERYTHING they need to do every day, every week, of every month...? Hmmm???

  Daniel Cunningham
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So different vendor apps within a single resident app? Have you seen anything like it consumer-level? It kind-of sounds like a UX/UI nightmare—each app would have it's own layout, design, native functions, etc — basically it just consolidates a bunch of different apps into a single down and a single menu icon. I feel like the more likely scenario is back-end integrations pulling info from different vendors but displaying updates universally in a single location. At least within individual platform providers, residents are able to manage a spectrum of services from a single mobile app—like our ResidentPortal mobile app has payments, work orders, lease signing, package notifications, insurance, ratings/reviews, inspections, etc (http://www.propertysolutions.com/company/press-room/articles/198) ; but it's only within that one app interface if the particular product/service is with Property Solutions.

Maybe it's a branded app created by the property management co's for residents to manage their different online services? Do you know any pm co's who've done that? But at best, that would probably just link out to a separate mobile website for whatever vendor in Safari.

  Tashina Wortham
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You are completely right that it could be a UX/UI nightmare, among other things. This might be just a thought exercise rather than an implementable reality (at least for now). In your case, for example, you all support integrations with the PM software itself, but if that integration extended to the app itself, then it allows for that consolidation of apps/features, rather than having separate apps for each resident-facing element of the community's service.

  Brent Williams
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Oh definitely! It's a thought exercise for now, but I wouldn't be surprised if this were a huge topic in another year. We talk about the importance of that seamless platform solution, and it applies equally (if not more) for residents, especially if they're all on their smartphones - lol!

  Tashina Wortham
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I'm sure NAA will be very interesting this year with many more mobile app options. I'm looking forward to 6-9 months from now when there's a lot more feedback and information on the resident's experiences with them and the data on usage, etc. So far we have had great resident feedback on our app. http://www.residentexpressapp.com

  Crystal Hadidian

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