Self storage in Australia has seen its fair share of challenges recently – a global pandemic, a tumultuous economy, and prolonged lockdowns to contend with. Throughout all of the change, we’ve seen some exciting shifts in the way we operate and our focus points as an industry, particularly around the use of technology in facilities.
We’re expecting some of these changes and trends to continue into 2022, and we think it’s going to be an exciting year – Catherine Moyle, Storman.
The Age of the Cloud.
There’s no doubt about it – the Cloud is here to stay. The months we spent working out of our home offices (or any spare corner we could find) changed the way we connect and access our work, and self storage is no different. With cloud-based or online platforms allowing staff to work from virtually anywhere, we’re expecting to see a continued shift away from ‘on premises’ software that requires dedicated hardware and expensive ongoing maintenance in 2022.
‘Self-Serve’ for Storers.
COVID kicked it off, and convenience keeps it alive. Increasingly, different parts of your tech stack can work together to provide customers with quick and easy ways to ‘self-serve’ their needs online without the need for staff help. Giving your storers the tools to do everyday things – like get a price for the unit they’re interested in, reserve or pay for a space online at any time of the day, and update their contact information – can reduce the administrative burden on your staff, and help you provide a great customer experience.
A self storage facility has many moving parts: there are security systems, accounting software, and access control systems to consider. So it’s no surprise more and more facilities want those moving parts to talk to each other. Whether it’s integrations that empower facilities to view and use their data in a variety of reports, or a security system that allows storers to unlock their units with just their phone if they’re paid up to date, or management software that brings all your customer communications into one space – we think this will be a significant growth area in the next twelve months.
A Focus on Cyber Security.
Self storage facilities have always needed a lot of data to operate effectively, and this has only increased with the rise of online sign-ups and payments. After all – you’re always going to need to know who your storers are, how to contact them, and how to make their payments. All of this information about your storers is sensitive and must be held securely and protected from unwanted access – more so now than ever before. Over the last financial year, the Australian Cyber Security Centre saw an increase in cybercrime reports of nearly 13% on the year before, with one cyber attack reported every eight minutes.
How you choose to keep your facility’s data safe can vary and is often a many-pronged approach. A cyber security strategy will typically include the use of firewalls to prevent unwanted visitors from accessing your data, the encryption of sensitive information, the use of appropriate anti-virus, and the restriction of access (both physical and virtual) to only those who need it. It’s also essential to ensure that your software providers and partners take steps to keep your data safe. With the amount of time we spend online and the volume of data we collect on the rise, we’re expecting to see a greater focus on cyber security this year.