The Next Big Software Innovation and Where It Will Lead Equipment Rental

Technology changes at a break-neck pace, making it tough to keep up. What we all want to know is, what is the next big thing? We asked leaders of some of the most prominent software suppliers in the rental industry what they see in their crystal ball. Following is an excerpt of that discussion:

Rod Theoret, Texada Software: Today, Texada’s SRM has been delivering value with our SaaS solution in the Cloud for over two and half years. We also offer customer web portals for self-service and web service integration to third-party solutions like Salesforce.com.

Mobile applications are on the horizon as the next technological advancement. It will benefit rental operations both with field operations improvement and can deliver a personalized experience to end customers.  

Wayne Harris, Point-of-Rental: Anything mobile and anything relating to customer facing web presence. Customers want to get pricing and other information in the middle of the night. Customers want to make a reservation anytime they want. Customers want access to their account online. Customers want to manage their current equipment rentals such as calling them off rent at their convenience. Rental stores that offer these features will grab the business of the next generation.

Patrice Boivin, Orion Software: The combination of cloud computing and the mobility. As software is deployed on cloud and becomes available everywhere, software vendors will revisit the business processes and implement streamlined business practices. This will open the applications to mobile users such as delivery staff and salesmen. Users will be much more efficient and better informed, leading to significant improvement of customer satisfaction.

Ray Bonestroo, Genisys Software: I think that the mobile aspect stands to impact the rental business the most, both now and in the future. The web is already helping quite a few rental businesses in some ways, and they will move to doing more with this over time (customer portals, web stores, online reservations, etc). The mobile applications (and web portals) are already in place, if you are working with the right rental management company.

Clark Haley, BCS ProSoft: The ARA’s rental market metrics is a great start towards implementing an industry standard for measuring multiple utilization based metrics. The current metrics address the needs of equipment rental companies renting out serialized assets. It would be nice to see the metrics expand to address the needs of companies that rent non-serialized assets. Event rental and scaffolding companies are examples that would fall under the non-serialized umbrella.

Mobile technology will continue to see upticks in adoption rates. Integration with the business management software in place at each organization will help drive adoption rates upwards.

Rob Ross, Alert Management Systems: To sum it up, there will be more mobility, less paper and faster access to key information. This will allow managers to react to changes in market conditions and opportunities even faster.

Michael Saint, Corporate Services: Personalization of reporting and data needs for individual shop managers, equipment managers, salespersons and accounting personnel delivered via web services and personal devices will continue expanding their roles in equipment companies as they build the infrastructure and expertise to use this data.

J.J. Shea, Solutions by Computer: Mobile technology is the big focus in the near-term. Rental software has made some good strides in this area, but it can take better advantage of the proliferation of mobile devices. The rental option is all about making it easy and cost effective for customers to achieve a goal they have in mind. If you can give your customers mobile access to your services, and give your employees the ability to transact business on the road, you’re leveraging the “easy” factor.

Beyond the standard rental functions, third-party functionality can be delivered to rental customers via mobile apps. For example, we recently deployed an electronic signature capture capability that’s fully integrated with our Enfinity system. It operates on any mobile device and seamlessly incorporates the customer signature into the transaction record.

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