RER: Tell us about the latest technological advances and functionalities of your rental business software.
Baron: At Result Group, we are constantly leveraging new technology to bring valuable business functionality to the industry. We have recently introduced our rental management web application optimized for the iPad, and our rules engine. Our rental management web application optimized for the iPad keeps relevant information at a userâ€™s fingertips, which creates an opportunity to improve productivity and response time, two metrics that contribute directly to bottom-line growth.
Our Rules Engine for rentalresult allows companies to make decades of their best employeesâ€™ knowledge available to any employee or automated business process. For example, the rules engine can be applied to processes such as rate optimization, cross selling, up selling, project scoping, and customer relationship management. The result is that top employees can focus on the more difficult tasks and less experienced staff can focus on the day-to-day challenges. Because of this, our Rules Engine has the potential to significantly impact a businessâ€™ bottom line.
What are some of the trends you expect to see develop in the coming years in terms of rental industry software and its capabilities?
The economic climate over the past 18 months has significantly impacted how the industry is looking to use technology. Due to decreasing rates and utilization, companies can no longer just throw more labor at a throughput challenge. The industry is going to see more functionality, such as our Rules Engine and our e-commerce solution, which helps a companyâ€™s employees and customers to make better decisions and helps to make them more efficient. Companies that buy into and successfully follow this trend will reap tremendous rewards as the economy continues the recovery process.
What are some of the improvements and new developments your customers have been asking for in your equipment?
Following the trend mentioned previously, our customers have been asking for solutions to enable more efficient and effective processing with their customers and vendors. Several of our recent releases have demonstrated our ability to deliver these solutions to our customers. This includes our Rules Engine, our ecommerce application and our rental management web application optimized for the iPad.
How have Smartphones and hand-held devices changed the way rental companies manage their businesses? How will this trend continue to evolve?
Since the first Smartphones were released into the market over a decade ago, there has been a lot of excitement around how these devices can positively impact a rental company. Initially, these devices helped rental companies manage their business by streamlining communications via instant access to email. Thanks to the recent Smartphone innovation over the past three years, as well as the expansion of modern, high-speed cellular data networks, we are starting to see rental companies figure out how to use these devices to help their field service and sales representatives make more informed, real-time decisions while away from their workshops and offices.
One struggle I have still seen, however, is that many rental companies have a hard time linking up to their rental management system in a simple and meaningful way. With our rentalresult service-oriented architecture and web service layer, we make it possible to more quickly and effectively realize the promise of the modern Smartphone. Open access to the right rental management system information and business processes is crucial to future evolution of this technology in the industry.
What technologies are "must haves" for rental businesses going forward?
Continuing on previous comments, rental businesses are looking for ways to let their employees and customers make smarter decisions while increasing efficiency. Any technology that can accomplish this is a â€śmust have.â€ť It must first start, however, with making the back-end rental management system have the flexibility to leverage any new technology being brought in by a specific rental company. A system must be able to adapt, without requiring months and months of custom development, to changing business processes in order to take advantage of the new technology.
I believe many companies today are constrained by their legacy systems. A rental company must look to begin to replace its legacy systems with something that has the flexible architecture, beyond simple â€ścloud computing,â€ť required for todayâ€™s businesses. I feel that in our software niche, â€ścloud computingâ€ť has come to simply mean putting the same legacy system over the Internet. This is why Result Group has architected rentalresult in such a way that we and our customers can quickly and easily adapt and implement new technologies, whether a customer chooses to implement their solution in the â€ścloudâ€ť or in a traditional model.
Have there been any surprises for you in terms of how rental companies are using technology in the face of the economic downturn?
What surprises me the most is not what I am seeing companies do with technology in the face of the economic downturn, but what I am not seeing companies do. There are generally two responses to an economic downturn when it comes to technology. One response is to cut back projects and stick with what is already in place in an effort to save money. The second response is to see technology as a way to gain a competitive advantage by becoming smarter and more efficient in a down economy.
In the rental industry, I am surprised to see that in this current downturn there are more companies cutting back completely in this area than I expected. This might be because projects done based on legacy systems can be quite risky and sometimes take a long time before value is demonstrated. With a modern, flexible architecture, like the architecture rentalresult is built upon, companies can see much quicker results with much shorter payback periods. As a result, we are seeing some of our customers implementing our new technologies and demonstrating value quickly.