DOMICOThe Future of Self-Storage Software
DOMICO, a provider of management software to the self-storage industry, is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. This fall the company will release its third product, DOMICO 2000, which will incorporate all of the functionality that has been the basis for the software's previous success together with many new and exciting features.
For more than two years, the DOMICO engineering department has been hard at work designing and developing new Windows®-based software, and the company is extremely pleased with the fruits of its development labors. According to Glenn Hunter, president, "We have been fortunate to have many users who volunteered to run the new software parallel with their existing DOMICO package to help make certain that all functions operate correctly."
While the design team intended that the new software be a Windows product, it also believed that the only way to offer the usefulness storage operators need without sacrificing ease of use was to both automate and make invisible many of the routine choices that plague Windows users. This required a major investment in automating different functions to keep them behind the scenes.
"It is clearly the objective of the software industry to make the Internet as much an everyday part of our lives as television or radio," says Hunter. As a result, DOMICO sought design solutions by looking at Web-page design. In order to do this, the complexity of Windows had to be brought to the simple level of a push-button radio or remote control.
Hunter says he believes the Internet is the future of the software industry and that self-storage has the same potential that other industries have to be revolutionized by the Internet. "The all-new DOMICO 2000 is the first step in this evolution," he says. "It will initially look and act like traditional software that you install on your computer. It will only look different (more simple and clear) than other Windows programs. However, as we progress into the new millennium, DOMICO 2000 will also progress. We are building the future into the software at this very moment."
A Prediction by Glenn Hunter
Current state-of-the-art software programming is Web-design oriented. The average citizen comes to a Web site and instantly gets engaged--no training, no help screens, no questions. This is what the next generation of management software must provide--virtually instant usability. When we look back in time, the Windows 95/98 era and Windows-designed software will appear to be exactly what it is--an infinitesimal blip on the computer landscape.
What this means is that asking your software company if it offers a Windows program is a little like asking Noah whether he'd read the latest weather report--wrong question and way too late. The proper question to ask is: "How is your company going to assist me in taking advantage of the most important technology in the information age?"
This is where things gets really exciting and interesting. There is no question that server technology and sequential query language (SQL) programming will allow large, multi-location, storage companies to invest in corporate servers that will run all of their software and house all of their data. Their facilities will log in online through the Internet, and will transact business in real time. Data security will increase dramatically. Information access for management will also be significantly improved. It will be amazingly easy to custom design and implement reports that look at your multi-facility data. Software companies will be assisting you in writing reports that are customized to your needs. Upgrades and modifications to your software will be instantly available to all of your facilities.
But what about the smaller facilities and companies with just one or two locations? Will they be left out in the cold? On the contrary, software companies will be able to provide these smaller operators with the same benefits by offering them the opportunity to log onto their server and right into the software they want to use.
Within the next very few years storage customers will be renting space over the Internet. They will log onto a facility's Web site and examine the facility's space-for-rent options; they will speak face-to-face to the manager, since both will be on camera; cameras will even allow a tour of the facility and potential locker locations. The customer will fill out the move-in information, e-mail the lease, and pay for space with the swipe of their credit-card into a reader built into the computer keyboard.
Software companies will increasingly be differentiated by how well they use advances in technology to provide owners with the information they need to better run their businesses. This begins with the capture of information at the facility. Software design and development tools and approaches don't receive anywhere near the publicity that the latest hardware gimmick does, but advances in approaches to software development can offer immense benefits to users.