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Integrating Your Tech Stack

To obtain the greatest return from your solutions, make sure they are connected and cohesive.

When it comes to a modern tech stack, remember these words: integrations and interoperability. Why are these terms so important? Well, a connected tech stack holds undeniable advantages over segmented point solutions. In this blog, we will touch on the biggest advantages for end users, as well as how you can ensure you gain the interoperability necessary for your business to succeed.

Data-driven decision-making

The first advantage a connected tech stack offers is access to better data. The truth is data makes the business world go round. Without it, making strategic decisions about your company becomes much more difficult. An interoperable tech stack solves this problem. When your solutions are integrated, decision-makers within your organization gain real time insight from multiple sources simultaneously. This leads to quicker, more efficient, and better-informed choices on how to operate your business.

Expanded scalability

It can be tempting to think that implementing point solutions over time is the best approach for a growing business, but the reality is much more complicated. Interoperability allows you to add components or applications without disrupting the entire system, meaning you can adapt more quickly to increased workloads and larger volumes of data.

Lower costs

Prioritizing interoperability from the get-go also makes sense from a fiscal perspective. When you purchase multiple point solutions, integrating and maintaining them after the fact can quickly get pricey. With an integrated approach, you can consolidate your efforts and expedite any patches, updates or fixes much more seamlessly and at a lower cost.

Data governance

For title companies, effective and reliable data governance is a must. Yet diligently protecting sensitive customer information can be challenging without a tightly integrated tech stack. Centralizing your data allows for you to easily apply uniform data governance policies across every aspect of your organization, which, in turn, can reduce your exposure to data breaches.

How to ensure proper integration

When you embark upon a tech stack modernization project, there are a few things you need to keep in mind to maximize connectivity.

  • First, take a rigorous inventory of your existing systems, solutions and data pipelines so you can answer critical questions about what you need to integrate. Then, prioritize what you will tackle first by mapping them onto your respective business’s goals and needs.
  • Once you have the lay of the land, you can start putting together a tangible plan that describes your modernization and integration efforts in full detail. This will give you a better understanding of your timelines, resources and potential risks.
  • Next, work with a technology implementation partner that deploys open APIs. These interfaces promote interoperability and allow for different systems to communicate with each other and easily exchange data.
  • After that, collaborate with your technology vendor to develop a data-migration plan. Having a robust and well-thought-out plan is integral to mixing old and new system data and ensuring that everything synchronizes correctly.
  • As with any technology project, following the initial implementation period, you will want to work with your provider to test and validate your systems. This is an ideal moment to double-check that all integrations, APIs and data flows are operating as they should and that you will be able to gain maximum benefit once you go live.
  • In the post-go-live period, take the time to develop proper documentation and training for your staff so they can use your connected tech stack correctly and efficiently. While this step may feel cumbersome, it helps your business not only onboard existing staff but also guarantees that you can bring new hires up to speed as quickly as possible.

A connected world demands a connected tech stack

Over the last few years, the world has grown increasingly connected and complex, and the economy has certainly not been immune from this period of rapid changes. Today, both internal and external stakeholders expect that businesses will not only have the right technology infrastructure in place but that it will be cohesive and integrated in a way that allows for better service and higher levels of personalization, security and support. Prioritizing integration and interoperability at every step offers a company the best way to meet and exceed those expectations. And I can assure you: Those that do will reap the benefits.

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CRM metrics you need to know for a thriving business

Keep an eye on this data to gain a competitive advantage.

For businesses today, customer relationship management (CRM) systems play a central role in collecting, organizing and leveraging information. Simply having a CRM system though is no guarantee of success. It’s only when we’re familiar with key CRM analytics that we can utilize these systems to their full potential.

For those who are unfamiliar with CRMs, trying to extract valuable insights can sometimes feel like wading through alphabet soup. CACs. NPSs. CLTVs. These are all common metrics that businesses use every day to drive productivity and profitability. But let’s face it, they aren’t the most comprehensible of figures – especially when lacking appropriate context. Never fear though. We will break them down one at a time.

Top CRM metrics

  • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC): First up is customer acquisition cost, which relates to the associated costs with bringing on new business. CAC is essential information for any business for a host of reasons. Without it, making accurate and objective assessments about your sales and marketing efforts is much more difficult. And optimizing your strategies? Next to impossible!
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV): Another must-have metric is customer lifetime value or CLTV, which is important for long-term planning and determining the potential profitability of your customer base. By gaining this deep knowledge, you can better focus on customer retention.
  • Conversion Rate: Unsurprisingly, being aware of the conversion rate of your sales and marketing activities is very important. Referring to the percentage of leads or prospects that you convert into paying customers, conversion rates allow you to better understand your overall ROI. Use this figure to optimize your sales processes, bolster your leads’ experience and ultimately make more sales.
  • Customer Churn Rate: Just as important as understanding how many customers you are gaining over time is discovering the exact opposite. “Customer churn rate” is the metric that provides this information, reflecting the percentage of your client base that stops doing business with you over a given amount of time. When your churn rate is low, that means something is going right in how you are delivering your services. When it is high, you need to delve into what might be going wrong and ask some hard questions as to why.
  • Length of Sales Cycle: The next metric we want to cover is “length of sales cycle,” which tracks the time from when you create a prospect in your system and when you close new business. A business needs to have visibility into this process to know when to engage with a partner and when they can afford to leave them alone. As any marketing expert will tell you, the way a prospect responds to a piece of content will depend heavily on where they are in the sales cycle. Sending a conversion asset when a prospect is in the awareness stage, for instance, is one of the last things you want to do. Monitoring the length of the sales cycle can help you avoid this problem.
  • Net Promoter Score (NPS): Net promoter score is another way to understand how your customers are feeling about you in the long term. Collecting and tracking this data through a survey can provide you with incredible insight into whether your customers would recommend your agency to others. Since word of mouth is one of the most compelling ways that people find services to trust and do business with, the value of learning your NPS speaks for itself.

Relationships make the business world go-round

Strong customer relationships are a cornerstone of long-term business sustainability. By utilizing your CRM’s metrics to their fullest, you can gain a much deeper understanding of your agency’s costs and ROI, while finding tangible ways to improve your marketing and sales and deepen your customer base’s loyalty. In a competitive business environment like ours, these are advantages you just can’t pass up.

Take the next step. Learn how to select a CRM system that will compliment your business.

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Find greater business success at the edge

What can edge computing offer us?

In recent years, cloud computing has exploded into the mainstream, with companies across different verticals moving swiftly to transition to cloud networks. However, there is another technology called edge computing that is not as well-known. This is unfortunate because edge computing can also bring benefits to companies that want to accelerate their growth and increase efficiency. In this blog, we will look at this form of technology, how it differs from something like cloud computing, and whether you should consider incorporating it into your IT stack in the future.

What exactly is edge computing?

As its name suggests, edge computing occurs at the edge of your business’s network. More specifically, it refers to computing adjacent to end users or data sources – such as sensors, mobile phones or other connected devices.

Edge versus cloud computing

Edge computing is related to cloud computing in that edge resources can be shared across a distributed cloud network, but they can also be separate entities or processes. Another way to conceptualize the difference is to think about edge computing in terms of time and volume. Typically, businesses deploy edge solutions when they need to deal with data quickly and efficiently, and where accessing the data over the cloud is not practical.

The edge can offer big benefits

Smaller businesses can gain from making edge computing part of their IT business stack. Edge computing helps businesses process data and applications faster. By not relying on the cloud, companies can also improve efficiencies, while enjoying peace of mind through enhanced security. In addition, edge-powered businesses can keep operating and serving their customers even when internet connectivity is limited. And these advantages can translate to sizable cost savings.

What about for title agents?

For those working in the real estate and title insurance industries, edge computing has a lot of potential benefit. The real estate industry is notoriously document-heavy, dealing with contracts, deeds and other legal documents. Edge computing speeds up document processing significantly, allowing agents to deal with certain workflows locally rather than relying on cloud computing.

Given the sensitive nature of the information title professionals routinely deal with, having robust security measures in place is an absolute necessity. By keeping data closer to its source and not having to run it through the cloud, agencies can reduce their ecosystem’s potential attack surface and minimize their vulnerability to cyberattacks or breaches.

For agents who operate in the field, having the right mobile solutions can make a real difference in productivity and customer experience they provide. Edge computing is a catalyst for enabling mobile efficiency and linking employees to the data, applications and information they need to unlock anywhere, anytime connectivity.

Last but certainly not least, edge computing has been associated with sizable cost savings by reducing storage, networking and downtime costs.

Take things to the edge

Edge computing can help agencies overcome some of the cloud’s limitations. By bringing computing closer to its source, the edge often results in higher efficiency, lower costs and greater productivity. And in doing so, it helps forward-thinking agencies become more innovative and obtain additional market share.

Bryan Johnson is Alliant National’s IT Director and can be reached at bjohnson@alliantnational.com

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Tackling Your IT Budget

Staying lean in an unpredictable economy

When trying to assess the economy these days, the word that comes up for a lot of people is “uncertain.” During times like these, businesses naturally look to revisit departmental budgets and find new ways to control costs.

While frugality is never a bad idea, things can get complicated when addressing your IT spend. For many companies, the technology stack is one of the biggest drivers of productivity and profitability, which makes haphazard budget cuts the equivalent of shooting yourself in the foot. You also must carefully consider how any cuts may affect your ability to protect your company’s data, ensure customer privacy and maintain regulatory compliance.

Here’s how you can address your IT costs intentionally, strategically and most of all safely.

Start simple 

Begin by looking at your existing IT processes, procedures, solutions and systems. Then, ask yourself some hard questions and answer honestly. Which are value-adds and which are value-drains? Be as thorough as possible while doing this inventory. Remember to consider not only the up-front cost of a given software system, but also associated training and maintenance expenses. 

Find low-cost alternatives

There is no doubt that software solutions streamline business processes and drive new efficiencies, but they also carry costs that can add up quickly. One potential remedy here is to seek out lower cost alternatives.

Yet when considering lower cost software, always keep that old expression of “You get what you pay for” in mind. One potential downside of a less expensive product is that it may not offer the same sort of robust protections for sensitive data flows or mission critical infrastructure. That’s why you should only deploy this strategy for software that is not involved with securing valuable company assets and does not need to comply with intensive legal regulations.  

But that doesn’t mean there still aren’t numerous areas where you could find potential savings! From scheduling assistants to word processors to graphic design platforms, there is no shortage of cost-effective software solutions just waiting to be leveraged online. We even put together an entire blog on the topic where you can get more information. 

Consider the cloud 

You’ve likely heard a lot about the cloud over the past few years, especially the positive way it can impact your business. When you look at the benefits, it is easy to see why.

Transitioning IT systems to the cloud has been shown to enable a more productive and nimble workforce. You reduce the costly and cumbersome hardware systems you are responsible for. You can also add or remove resources on an as-needed basis. System updates and maintenance are typically handled by the cloud provider following a transition to the cloud.

Of course, transitioning to the cloud can carry some security risks. To mitigate these, carefully vet third-party providers. Ask pointed questions about how they ensure compliance and what they can do to protect data while it is in-use, in-transit or at rest.

If you want to learn more about the benefits the cloud offers to users and businesses, check out our previous blog

Assess your software licenses 

Once you start adding software systems to your business, you can quickly lose sight of how many licenses you are paying for if you are not careful. Any assessment of your IT stack and its associated costs must include a rigorous inventory of who is using what and for what purpose. After you’ve compiled this information, take steps to reduce licensing costs for unused or underutilized applications.

Apply a critical eye to cut IT waste 

Operating a lean business and seeking out cost-cutting measures can be a good idea in business, especially in times of uncertainty and upheaval. But when it comes to your IT stack, you need a scalpel − not an axe.

Indiscriminate cuts can set your company back – not move it forward, and not just in terms of lost productivity. Fines, fees, breaches and reputational damage can all result from cutting back on IT solutions that secure your business’s critical systems. The potential consequences of skimping on IT security far outweigh any savings you might achieve.

But by using these tips, you can free up valuable resources to drive greater business growth and innovation without compromising your existing setup. 

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Mobility IT solutions for anywhere, anytime communication

For many who work in real estate, the job site isn’t defined by a single location. Workers are often highly mobile, and their job responsibilities may require them to move from house to house to conduct closings and other business. To stay connected, collaborative and productive, these workers need access to cloud-native enterprise mobility solutions. When properly equipped, workers can stay connected to the data, channels and applications they need. Here is what you need to know about these technologies and what benefits they can bring to your business. 

What are enterprise mobility solutions? 

Enterprise mobility management (EMM) encompasses the processes, underlying technologies and solutions that enable enterprise mobility. More specifically, EMM includes things like software hosted over the cloud, applications optimized for mobile devices, VPN networks to boost security and programs like mobile device management. These technologies work together seamlessly to empower employees and enable greater organizational flexibility, while at the same time allowing administrators to conduct oversight of how devices and programs are being used. 

Streamlined processes                                                      

One of the biggest things remote workers gain when equipped with the right mobile solutions is process improvements. The right digital toolkit not only reduces the need for endless paper documentation, but it streamlines access to necessary business information, allowing employees to provide better customer experiences. 

Increased productivity 

For any business, finding ways to increase worker productivity is a key priority. When the right mobility solutions are deployed, real estate and title insurance employees can stay apprised of their most important tasks and responsibilities from anywhere on any device. Potential benefits from this include a reduction in lag times, easier collaboration and happier and more satisfied customers overall. 

Data security

While the rise of mobile has worked wonders for many aspects of business communication and collaboration, it is safe to say that it has introduced new challenges for data privacy and security. Real estate and title insurance are both data-intensive fields that routinely deal with sensitive customer data. Agents must have the means to secure that information. Without the right digital tools, your business runs the risk of experiencing a security-related incident and potential long-term damage to your brand. 

Reduced IT overhead 

Like any other business process, the more control and standardization you can exert over your IT setup, the more it can work wonders for reducing IT spending. Today’s enterprise mobility tools offer the type of visibility, convenience and functionality that can improve an agent’s job performance without saddling your company with a lot of additional costs. One of the ways they do this is by streamlining processes like file sharing. Another involves how enterprise mobility is one of the foundational technologies behind the rise of remote work. Businesses that successfully run and manage hybrid or remote workforces may achieve sizable savings in lower office costs, reduced employee churn and higher productivity. 

Equip yourself for success 

With the benefits of enterprise mobility being crystal clear, your next question might be: Where do I start? Well, unfortunately, the answer is going to be different for each agency. As I have said before, your organizational goals should dictate the type of IT solutions you employ – not the other way around. Spend some time thinking about what your needs are before you make any decisions. Don’t discount the value of getting a little help. Feel free to reach out to me at bjohnson@alliantnational.com with questions or if you would like to talk. With any luck, you’ll quickly find the right setup for your team and start taking your mobile operations to the next level. 

This blog contains general information only, not intended to be relied upon as, nor a substitute for, specific professional advice. We accept no responsibility for loss occasioned to any purpose acting on or refraining from action as a result of any material on this blog.

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