Well attended and well organised, the SCA national conference held last week in Adelaide has left me thinking, as these things are meant to do, about the future of strata. Five things stick in my mind and strangely all but the first came from the accompanying trade exhibition:
1. There was a conference app. This allowed you to check who was attending and organize those all-important catch-ups as well as see what was going on and make notes on your iPad. It was the reason I went to the conference. A great innovation. Apps will come to dominate strata services. Whoever invents one first for strata will win new business for free. www.micasahq.com (not at the conference) has an app for schemes and this or something like it will catch on.
2. FaceMe was the standout new product for my money. Allowing up to 12 people to meet by videoconference this is a better product than Go To Meeting or any video-conferring software I have used. It’s clean, its simple and its well priced for strata at $395 per year. Unlike Go to Meeting and other video conferencing products, there is no installation necessary on the users’ machines, you simply click the URL sent by email and you’re connected. This must make committee meetings easier and improve committee engagement. I have bought the product.
3. Stratapay have introduced an app to allow owners the convenience of paying levies on their mobile devices. Mobile phone use as a percentage of global web use doubled from 4.3% in Jan 2011 to 8.49 % by Jan 2012 www.mobithinking.com. Just watch this trend increase.
4. My Community by My Strata, which accompanies Staratware, provides a very comprehensive and elegant ‘FaceBook Plus’ solution for strata although it is expensive and is controlled by the provider. The notion that information has to be given to a third party provider and then made available to the owner of the information for a fee just doesn’t sit comfortably with me. I think strata communities are looking for, and need, empowering tools that enable them to own and use their own information more conveniently.
5. WHS reports are now available online with a tool that helps schemes monitor compliance and demonstrate due diligence. At $1,000 the small schemes won’t buy it but it does get us away from the notion that buying a safety report is all you have to do to meet new due diligence standards. This tool provides a framework for cultural change within strata communities although for the life of me I can’t remember who provides it because trade booths weren’t on the conference app.
These initiatives go to the very heart of the issue identified in the recent CityFutures Report ‘Governing the Compact City; The role and effectiveness of strata management’ (www.cityfutures.net.au) about owners getting easy access to meaningful information about their schemes. For me, these initiatives point to the future of strata.