In RER’s July issue, we interviewed software providers about how the cloud computing concept continues to penetrate the rental industry, and we will be reprinting them in the coming weeks in RER Reports. In this interview, Michael Stilwagner, vice president of sales and marketing, Wynne Systems, talks to RER managing editor Brandey Smith about the simplicity of the cloud computing model, the cost savings associated with it and the continued importance of customer support.
RER: 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?
Stilwagner: We expect that Apple’s iCloud will educate people on how “simple” and “in-reach” cloud computing is, dispelling the perception of complexity.
Does Apple’s iCloud offering mean that smaller rental businesses with fewer locations will soon be best served by utilizing a similar cloud model for their software implementation and data storage? In other words, since iCloud is designed for individual users, do you expect similar cloud offerings to follow that offer affordable cloud benefits to small businesses?
We have already seen a multitude of cloud offerings Application Service Provider Software as a Service made available within the past few years. Our own SaaS offering has been growing at a fast and steady rate for the past 10 years. I believe the ease of use with Apple’s iCloud will generate a buzz about similar solutions that may be available within the rental industry.
Explain how all the outside data management that the cloud provides will affect a rental business’ IT costs.
The cost savings factor with cloud computing is huge. It not only removes the need for an IT staff, it removes the cost of ownership for servers, backup systems and the related software. Many small and medium companies may not have dedicated IT personnel. That role is filled by a senior person whose time is better spent as a business knowledge worker than a makeshift computer system operator. This is an area where soft costs are obviously recouped because the cloud provider takes on these roles.
How important is customer support to consider when selecting a new software provider? Give me an example of a situation when support was invaluable.
The experience, reliability and availability of a customer support staff are very important factors to consider when selecting a new software provider. All of us have been in that frustrating situation where you are on hold with a vendor that is not familiar with the scenario or the industry jargon, which adds frustration to the issue you need resolved. Support and client services people hired from the equipment industry translate “rental speak” to “system speak” and vice-versa. Consider the availability of the support so that when you have an emergency are they available 7x24x365.
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?
With so many wireless devices on the market, people are becoming more and more mobile. Mobile solutions that gather and provide data from the field will continue to grow and soon become necessary and common tools within the rental industry. Smartphones and tablets are replacing hand-held computers because of cost and, more importantly, user acceptance.
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.
Software must be able to adapt and grow with your company. Our job as the software provider is to observe industry trends and create a product that is always two steps ahead of current demands. Having a product that easily allows you to add a new language, a new currency, transition to and mold to each user will prove invaluable. All of this is based on a stable platform. Without a good foundation, the new will fall down quickly.
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?
Sit down and really analyze whether or not your solution is giving you what you want. If the answer is yes, great! If not, take the time to determine where your money is being spent. Call different software providers to see what the industry has and where it is going. With the advancements and ease of use that come with cloud computing, it will be easy to justify the investment.