A real estate company in Maryland streamlined operations by moving email and other operations to the cloud, reports Greg Masters.

Like any small-business owner, Syreeta Saunders-Keys relies on speed and efficiency to sustain and grow the operation of her real estate business. Time spent doing anything other than prospecting for new business is time wasted, she says. That’s why she went shopping for a solution that allows her to maintain files and company operations in a streamlined manner. She also wanted to be able to centralize all email traffic. Even more important, she desired the company’s IT solution to be scalable so that it could grow without reinventing the wheel or take an inordinate amount of time to bring staff up to speed on processes.

The business that Saunders-Keys owns, the Keys2Day Real Estate Team based in Columbia, Md., consists of three salespeople, one marketing manager and one assistant, with an IT staff of one. While the staff is small, the business encompasses several Maryland counties. So streamlining its various operations was essential.

“The goal was to develop a solution that solved all of our known issues and even some we were not aware of,” says Saunders-Keys (left), the recipient of a number of sales awards. She has also appeared on a few real estate TV shows.

A search led by the team’s marketing manager and CEO began, but they were unsatisfied with the options they were uncovering, which offered only pieces of a puzzle that would have involved several different vendors.

The costs were a big issue in the selection process, says Saunders-Keys. “In today’s environment, you have to watch every penny. But you still want as much value as you can get.”

Eventually, the team discovered InfoStreet, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider. InfoStreet offers a cloud collaboration solution, which allows its users to log into their company intranet system from any web browser using a secure login and password, says Keyon Thomas, channel manager at InfoStreet. From there, depending on the tools that have been deployed for the company – such as email, email archiving, calendars, shared calendars, file sharing, portal/FTP, employee directory, knowledge base, CRM and/or task management, conference calling, mobile sync, and more – the user will have everything immediately accessible to them.

“InfoStreet centralized everything,” Saunders-Keys says. “The features, such as shared calendar and file sharing, are among the options that we really love. We also were big on support. Salespeople can reel you in with sizzle, but is there any steak? Without a doubt the solution we chose, InfoStreet, has all those things in abundance.”

Secure transactions in the cloud

Using this solution, security can be broken down into three major components, InfoStreet’s Thomas says.

The first piece is user-related errors, such as losing a laptop or mobile device, going to a website that contains malware, or not updating anti-virus software.

“By using our system and moving to the cloud, one eliminates this error as the user is no longer interfacing with the machine, but rather with a cloud system,” he says. “Using cloud-based applications creates a layer of protection and less IT headaches.”

The second piece is the security of data traveling to the cloud. “One can protect data transport by adding an SSL certificate to a system, which is an option for all system users,” Thomas says.

The third layer of security is data in the cloud. For that, the company offers implemented monitoring, intrusion detection and multiple other measures to protect stored information.

Deployment went smoothly

The deployment of the solution by Keys2Day sailed through, says Saunders-Keys. “We were very pleased. Actually, the product is not meeting our expectations, it’s exceeding them. We’re very happy with the day-to-day operation, and if we ever have questions, InfoStreet is right there.”

In addition, the new installation assists the company with its compliance requirements.

“We’re already talking with InfoStreet about incorporating other applications, such as web conferencing,” she adds. “This will allow us to reach out to our client base in a whole new way.”

“We are certainly concerned with the rise in cyber infiltration.”

– Syreeta Saunders-Keys, owner, Keys2Day Real Estate Team

And, she believes the solution adds a level of trust, both for her staff and the company’s clients. “We are certainly concerned with the rise in cyber infiltration,” she says. “Our clients entrust sensitive information to us and we aim to keep it safe. We’re confident in Info-Street being a secure platform.”

When asked what differentiates the solution from the competition, InfoStreet’s Thomas responds, “Very simply, access control. With our system, every application is provisioned based on what the administrator for the company chooses that each individual needs. The sales team may need our customer-relationship management (CRM) module. However, an outside consultant may just need access to the file-sharing area. In both cases, the administrator, in just a few clicks, establishes a custom environment to fit the users’ unique needs.”

Further, updates to InfoStreet apps are free. The company enables them for all users and provides a one-week alert notifying of the enhancements, he says. Since the software is in the cloud – and not on a local machine – nothing has to be done by the user.

“We’re just happy that we’ve found this solution with this particular company,” says Saunders-Keys. “They are truly everything they say they are and more. This is a cost-effective solution with big benefits. As small business operators, we’ve heard every promise you can imagine about the better mousetrap.”