"The best way owners and operators can be safeguarded is to link with one of these processors who have been approved by their software provider," Fogg says.
Moreover, sensitive data should not be stored on a property computer, Smith advises. But if it is, he says it needs to be encrypted, providing "an enormous roadblock to potential thieves."
"Your software provider should be in constant compliance with the payment card industry’s audit standards," Smith adds. "This helps to ensure that systems are in place and working to prevent unauthorized access and use of sensitive customer data."
Users Prompt Innovation
When it comes to innovation and upgrades in self-storage management programs, listening to customer (operator) requests is key, says Smith. "We try to keep a close ear on what they are seeing and doing, and how our software can potentially help them."
Software providers keep their customers' suggestions—large or small—in mind to determine advances that may benefit the majority, Cossairt says. "The day-to-day users of software can provide the best insight of what does and does not work well for them."
Software evolution is not driven just by industry changes and technology, but also by self-storage operators who sometimes need individual program flexibility. "Staying in touch with customers, listening to their concerns and problems, and working with them to come up with solutions is critical to building good software," Taylor says.
The Speed of Innovation
In 1965, Intel's co-founder, Gordon E. Moore, predicted that computing hardware advances would double about every two years. That interval has proved a debatable but a good rule of thumb. Current software advances can be summarized by SMAC. But by next year, another catchy buzzword or phrase will likely appear. What will remain unchanged is the relationship between self-storage owner/operators and their management-software companies—a relationship that keeps customers satisfied and businesses profitable.
"When all is said and done, self-storage software still boils down to the day-to-day main functions of taking payments, renting units and moving people out,” Fogg says. “How information is handled is what makes a program become feature-rich—marketing, reporting and data accessibility. Don’t be fooled by bells and whistles. Evaluate software based on the mainstream operations of your business."
Kay Miller Temple is a physician and recent graduate from the master’s program at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. To reach her, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.