In RER’s July issue, we interviewed software providers about how the cloud computing concept continues to penetrate the rental industry, and have been reprinting them over the past few weeks in RER Reports. In this interview, Patrice Boivin, president & CEO, Orion Software, talks to RER managing editor Brandey Smith about the abundant benefits of implementing cloud-based technology, what the future holds and how integrating a Customer Relationship Management system will allow a rental business to grow.
RER: The cloud computing concept has steadily grown as its benefits become more apparent to businesses and individuals alike. Do you think the popular release of Apple’s iCloud will further enhance awareness of the cloud computing concept and make offsite storage of data more comfortable for rental business owners?
Boivin: Yes, absolutely. We are currently in the process of implementing a robust, reliable cloud-based technology to offer our clients. We share the view that in the future you will be able to run your business from an electronic pad, where all your applications will be on one device. We are a part of making this shift to offsite storage happen. [Editor’s note: Since this interview with RER, Orion Software introduced its Software as a Service model to users of its SiriusPro software. For the full article, visit http://rermag.com/trends_analysis/supplyside/orion-software-saas-siriuspro-072911/index.html.]
Since iCloud is designed for individual users, do you expect similar cloud offerings to follow that offer affordable cloud benefits to small businesses?
Boivin: The idea of the cloud is for customers to benefit from the volume of virtual servers. The benefits are affordable for small businesses who can certainly profit from the cloud offering.
Explain how all the outside data management that the cloud provides will affect a rental business’ IT costs. How much of an annual savings do you think a small- to medium-sized rental business might expect to achieve when it no longer requires onsite IT personnel?
Boivin: Cloud technology will eliminate costly IT expenses such as back-ups, technician availability, and security protection. Orion Software’s cloud offering allows rental managers to focus on their core business operations instead of managing IT. It reduces complexity, and helps clients get up and running faster. We believe businesses will benefit from approximately 25-percent reduction of their annual IT costs when they move to cloud services.
Many rental management solutions providers tout their superior customer support capabilities. How important is customer support to consider when selecting a new software provider?
Boivin: Rental businesses considering customer support should look for three key elements. A valuable support group is one that will ensure your business is always operational — a support team whose goal is to improve your operations using the best in customer service technology. Businesses also should consider a support plan that offers upgrades. The availability of upgrades can generate many benefits, allowing the business to customize their support plan. And lastly, a support team that uses remote communication to offer customer support. At Orion software, we use a direct connection to customers’ workstation so that we can provide fast and precise solutions.
Describe the very latest technologies that rental businesses are benefiting from both in terms of hardware equipment/devices and software features. What do you see coming?
Boivin: What we see coming is cloud technology that will allow customers to access rental software functionalities from anywhere. In the future, this access to software features will be available among all mobile devices. Using Wi-Fi at the office or 3G network on the road is true versatility. This is what will allow rental businesses to validate their inventory in real-time, and allow businesses to confirm and close orders on-site.
Explain how software is developed so that it not only meets a rental company’s current business needs, but is equipped to grow as the business continues to grow.
Boivin: The integration of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system within the rental software will allow businesses to grow. Being integrated with a CRM module allows for the management of the sales funnel and also the management of various customer interactions. From the initial discussion to the rental contract, you can document and get a complete view of every interaction between your customer and your employees. Orion Software’s CRM module is designed to be completely flexible and versatile, so it will grow your business and improve your customer satisfaction.
What advice would you give to rental businesses that are still using relatively out-of-date legacy software systems that don’t offer the latest integrations and efficiencies?
Boivin: Move to a software company that is going into the cloud. This will allow you to manage your business remotely and more efficiently. And also the integration of a CRM system to the rental software.