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The Tech Stack and Cyber Security Among Topics at NYC Real Estate Expo
NEW YORK, N.Y., Oct. 13, 2016 – Michael Mullin, president of real estate technology solutions firm Integrated Business Systems (IBS), served as a featured panelist at NYC Network Group Inc.’s recent 8th Annual NYC Real Estate Expo in Manhattan. Mullin participated in a panel discussion entitled, “Technology & the Commercial Real Estate Firm of Tomorrow.”

Other members of the panel included Laura Jamer of DIRTT Environmental Solutions, Morris Tabush of the Tabush Group, Derek Hall of Property Shark, Diego Perazza of Lightspeed Telecom, Elizabeth Young of Reonomy, Bill Delgrego of ExteNet Systems Inc. and Brian Zrimsek of MRI Software. Josh Rosenthal of REPlexus served as moderator.

THE REAL ESTATE TECH STACK
One key topic addressed by the panel involved the evolution of the real estate technology stack. “Decades ago, the tech stack was an actual stack of hardware in a commercial real estate organization’s IT department,” Mullin said. “Now, like most technology, it’s virtual and resides in the cloud. In short, it includes multiple software applications that are used to manage core functions.”

This includes programs that facilitate leasing, accounting, project tracking and reporting, building management, budgeting and valuation, marketing, contract management, and legal. According to Mullin, cloud computing is facilitating the integration of these platforms, which enables the streamlining of routine management tasks and also greatly increases the ability to use information to improve planning.

IBS’s own lease management/accounting software is used by dozens of regional commercial and residential real estate owners and operators in the New Jersey/New York regional market. Earlier this year, the 37-year-old, Totowa, N.J.-based firm introduced Imperium Powered by Acumatica, a new, cloud-based system.

“The enterprise lease management/accounting platform is the logical center of a well-assembled commercial real estate tech stack,” said Mullin. “Today’s most cutting-edge products allow other components of the stack to integrate into this core, sharing data in real time, to facilitate every aspect of leasing and asset management.”

CYBER SECURITY IN A THREATENING LANDSCAPE
The NYC Real Estate Expo panel also discussed issues related to cyber security. According to Mullin, ransomware (where perpetrators encrypt software programs and files to restrict them, and then demand that the users pay a ransom to remove the restriction) and CEO fraud (where email hackers pose as company leadership to trick employees into wiring funds) are among the most common – and concerning – issues today.

“Cyber safety is an incredibly important topic for real estate organizations,” said Mullin, whose company also specializes in Managed IT Services. In that role, IBS help clients keep their systems current and create competitive advantage in a world of rapid change. This includes the assumption of a significant amount of customers’ technology-related risk, especially in the areas of security and compliance.

“Companies may feel helpless, but prevention is possible through a combination of data-centered and people-centered security,” he noted. “In the scope of things, the cost to implement firewalls, anti-virus and malware protection software, and content filtering applications is minimal. However, education and awareness are equally important.”

Mullin refers to “the last inch” – the space between an employee’s index finger and their mouse – as the biggest threat. “Companies must put processes in place and train their employees about the dangers of opening files from unknown sources and installing programs onto their systems without authorization,” he said. “This should include both on-boarding of new staff members and ongoing communication and testing of the entire team.