MASTERKEY BLOG

Office Branding!

I’d like to show you the new office branding It’s taken a while, but we got sick of people wondering whether they were in the MasterKey office. So, to make sure they knew beyond a doubt where they were, we employed a little ingenuity and some elbow grease to give those coming through the door this:

Working Hard or Hardly Working

Working Hard or Hardly WorkingWorking hard! I thought everyone might be interested to see what we have in the works. Real Estate Bank – Al Maha Tower First up is Al Maha Tower. The UAE based Real Estate Bank asked us to do a MasterPlan for one of their tower projects. Below are two samples of what that looks like:         MasterPlans are interactive maps of your properties. Built in flash, the 3D MasterPlan lets you browse your properties and your units with visual feedback on where you are. MasterPlans with MasterKey Our MasterPlans are getting popular. Why? These maps are an incredibly useful sales tool. Being shown a property visually, both its location and interior tends to be a lot more comforting than seeing a blue-print or an artists rending. The property becomes more real. As an added bonus, if you are using the MasterKey service as well (mkSales for example) then the MasterPlan can be linked to your sales database and give you feedback on unit status. For example, one of our clients, The Wave, Muscat, put the MasterPlan up on a wide-screen TV in their sales hall. Connected to the MasterKey software and refreshing automatically, the MasterPlan showed prospective buyers which units were still available, and just how fast they were selling out. More importantly it gave buyers a feeling of confidence signing the contract, as they could see their chosen unit turn from vacant to sold right then and there. Have a look at some more examples of the 3D MasterPlan. Dubai Industrial City http://www.dubaiindustrialcity.ae/ I’ll let DIC describe themselves. Quoting directly from the site: Dubai Industrial City is one of Dubai Holding’s projects that adressess the industrial sector. Dubai Holding consolidates the various large scale infrastructure and investment projects in Dubai that were created over the past five years as well as research, identify and execute future major projects that will benefit the UAE and the region. The company has been created with the goal of providing a better future for all - across the range of life-improving industries it is involved in. Each of the Dubai Holding operating companies focuses on key areas which will dynamically support the development of Dubai as a world leading hub for commerce, leisure and finance, in turn driving these companies to become leaders in their respective fields in the Middle East and beyond. Making use of both the MasterKey software as well as the MasterPlan, DIC is in for a pleasant surprise when they see how much easier their life will be with MasterKey. A look at their MasterPlan:      Scandia www.scandiadubai.com   Some folks from a rather colder place then here have seen the wisdom of MasterKey as well. Scandia is a special case, as they already had a website and a retail management software package which they found …less than satisfactory shall we say. Having shown them the mk way of doing things, we are now working on updating their site and integrating it with MasterKey. Who are Scandia? From their current site: Nordic in sizzling Dubai. Why not? Nordic Real Estate is founded by Scandinavians and has is domicile in Dubai. Nordic Real Estate can offer a wide selection of developments from buzzing beachside apartments, a home on the Palm to a luxurious golf estate. Nordic Real Estate can help you as an individual or as an investment company in buying long term investments such as offices, residential building or employee accommodations. So who else is new to the mk family? Unfortunately if i went into a long description of all our new clients this post would become rather long, so i’ll leave you with a list and and some links if you want to find out more about them. DIRC www.di-realestate.com DIRC is persuing office development, warehouse complexes and residential developments in Dubai Investments park. Their first open project is Ritaj, with over 2,200 housing units being managed using MasterKey.   Al Fattan Properties http://www.alfattan.ae/ Using mkSales and the mkMaster Plan. One of our MasterPlan’s for Al Fattan:   You can see more of them here: http://www.alfattan.ae/projects.html#. Click on the view 3D animation to see the MasterPlans in action. Conqueror Real Estate http://www.targetdubai.com/index.php Dubai Property Link http://www.dubaipropertylink.com/dpl2/en/index.asp They are using the mkSales module. Cayman Estates http://www.cayman-estates.com Cayman are also using the mkSales module. Empire International http://www.empireuae.net …and so is Empire International. Using mkSales i mean.  

Hey! What’s going on with the beta?

Well, we went and checked, and the programmers haven’t disappeared, sucked into some horrible elder dimension. Instead they have been working hard to get beta 1 out the door for our valiant group of beta testers to run through for us. Right now the development team is working on optimizing the database back-end and getting the actual widgets (buttons and so on) set up for all the modules. As soon as there is something you can put properly through its paces - we’ll let you know! Planned new features Just so you are not completely deflated by lack of things to test, we thought we’d take this time to give you a quick run down of the kinds of features which we are building into the software. Feature Improvements Streamlining of tasks (requirements, units, clients, reminders) All information tied to 1 file (‘a requirement’) – no more clicking around for information User Interface New color scheme and buttons - easier on the eyes Customizable – don’t like a field name? Change it. Dashboard – Personal information and useful functions at your fingers More accessible layout – everything is easier to find Speed New AJAX technologies – no long page refreshes anymore Less calls to the database – things load faster Database structures updated an optimized – things load a lot faster We’re taking our time to do this and making sure that we do it right first time round, so be patient with us! So when do the rest of us see it? The only answer I can give you: when it’s ready. As things progress we’ll be posting features, explanations and screen shots of the new system here for wider feedback from you all. So check in regularly for more!

Trip Report: Cityscape Abu Dhabi

Trip Report: Cityscape Abu DhabiWell, Cityscape Abu Dhabi has ended, and the team is back in Dubai after 4 hectic days. We spoke to some interesting people and companies while we were there, saw some fantastic stands (the amount of money spent on those things, wow) and are now in the process of going through the enormous stack of inquiries we got - expect a phone call soon! Time to get ready for Cityscape Dubai!    

Google Empire, Part 1

This will be a 2 part series taking you through the free tools that Google offers, with the hopes that it will help you make your life more productive. Not just a search engine You guys know what Google is right? The company / brand has become so entrenched with daily life that the term Google has managed to turn verb (hey, I googled you yesterday!) and gained itself the honor of an entry in the dictionary. But did you know that Google offers a host of other useful services that are by turn’s fun, practical and productive? If you have a Google account, you have access to: Gmail Google Reader Google Docs Google Talk Google Bookmarks Google Calendar iGoogle The Google Advantage The main advantage of these applications – much like MasterKey – is that they are online. This means you can access them anywhere, you have robust data backup, you are not restricted to one computer to find your data again, and your things are secure. Example Workflow Using Google’s services you get an excellent integrated service for a lot of your daily tasks. For example, while abroad you can access your email archives and directly export a number of attached documents to Google Docs. In Google Docs you can save the document, invite other people in your Gmail contact list to edit the document, and then via Google calendar set a time to work on the document with colleagues. Send them an email with the set date from Google calendar, and wait for confirmations. When the day arrives everyone can log into Google docs and edit the same document together and at the same time. If you make mistakes, you can revert to older versions of the same document which are automatically saved and archived, chat with your co-editors using Google Talk and agree on changes, export the document to different formats and email it to whomever. It’s easy, comprehensive and accessible. Typically Google Those words are things that are typically associated with Google. They seem to go to great lengths to make their applications easy to use. As such they are often missing a lot of the user interface glitz and glamour that you see with other applications. Google likes to keep its interfaces simple and accessible, making sure that first and foremost they are useable, and you can get done what you need to do, which is something that you will come to appreciate. Let’s go through each one and see what it can do. Gmail Gmail is Google’s online email solution. Gmail’s claim to fame is its 2 gigabytes of online storage (and growing! – there is a little counter on the bottom of the page that goes up slowly). What Google mail has to recommend it is its simplicity (you’ll hear that a lot about Google applications). Gmail features two systems to help you find and organize your mail: the archive system, and the star/ label system.   Gmail Inbox  The archive system works on the principal that you don’t need to delete your mail, unless it is spam. Once you have read your mail, just hit the archive button and it will take the email out of your inbox. In conjunction with the label system, this makes Gmail very powerful. Labels are basically words that you can tag an email with. So for example, you could create Important, Family, Friends, Projects, Documents etc etc labels. Tag your emails with one or more of these labels before you archive it, and you can easily retrieve them later using the Labels box. The Star system tags emails with the ‘star’ label: how you want to use that is up to you. Emails which are very important and you always want to find easily, or emails which you need to go back to soon and read but don’t necessarily want in your inbox, whatever. Gmail Labels What Gmail does for you is simply and easily organize your inbox. That’s not all however. Filtering Gmail also includes a robust filtering system, allowing you to create rules to automatically tag / move / archive emails before they are displayed in your inbox, based on whatever criteria that you want: from, to, subject and keyword, Included with this is a constantly updated spam filter, updated in part by users – you! This means that Gmails spam filter is one of the most effective in the world. Conversation Display Another feature of Gmail is its conversation threading. All replies to an email are grouped together, so you can easily look back and see the thread of the conversation, who replied to who and what was said. Gamil Conversation    This can take some getting used to but is an incredibly useful feature that you will grow to appreciate. Integration Along with these great features Gmail has some fantastic integrated features. Virus Scanning Most important for the security conscious is the built in virus scanner, which strips executables from emails (even in archives) making sure that you can run potentially problematic and virus laden attachments. Spell Checking A built in spell checker lets you make sure your emails are perfect. The google spell checker includes a number of languages, so you can write your emails in your native language as well as the more common English. PDF Display Gmail includes PDF display online, so you can view the text contents in a window without having to open the often slow and cumbersome Adobe PDF reader (this is a really cool feature that I enjoy, I really hate the Adobe reader) Service Integration Naturally Gmail has fantastic integration with its other services, such as Google Talk and Google Docs. Google Talk in particular is built right into the email window, letting you chat with any of your other Gmail-using contacts, and if you want, save your conversations automatically to Gmail, so you can look over anything you discussed and retrieve any links etc. Access The final wining feature of Gmail are its POP and email forwarding features. You can set up Gmail so that you can use desktop clients like Outlook to read and send email, with Gmail. This allows you to use a home or office computer to send emails, and leaves a backup copy of every email you send and receive on Gmail’s servers for when you are on the road. Google Docs Google docs is goggle’s online document and spreadsheet editing software. This is almost exactly as it sounds: a Microsoft word or Excel, but online. Google Documents While the Google offerings are not as fully featured as the equivalent desktop offerings from Microsoft, the functionally they do offer are the things we use 90% of the time. As such these Google’s online document editing tools are incredibly useful. You can upload any current word, PDF or excel documents you have straight into Google docs and get started. So what can you do? All the expected tools are there: document formatting; colored text, lists and bullets, tables, text highlighting, undo and redo, inserting images and link and so on Colaboration Probably more interesting are the collaboration features. You can share your documents with other Google docs users and let them read and edit (if you enable it) your documents. Revisions to the document are automatically saved, so you can go back through a history of changes and revert to an older copy if you need to. You can even set up an RSS feed of changes to the document, so you can keep up-to-date without having to look at the document itself! (Integrates with goggle’s RSS tool, Google Reader)       The collaboration feature has been given a lot of attention, specifically for corporations and the like to ensure that people can work on a single document simultaneously: you can see who else is reading the document, who is editing it and lock sections you are working on so people don’t inadvertently change something you are updating. You can even set up a chat window on the side you can instant message everyone working on the document and organize what you are doing! (Integration with Google Talk) Getting the document to others Google Docs actually has a large number of options in this area. Format wise you can print pages, or save the file in RTF, Word, Open Office and PDF to you local computer if you need to. You can even save it as a zipped HTML page, allowing you to make in-document links, bookmarks and indexes. Google docs also has an interesting Publish feature, which lets you put the document online, either in a blog or just as a regular web page, so you can share the link with whoever you want. Tagging Lastly, Google has implemented Tags here also, letting you easily organize and retrieve your documents if you tend to have a lot (for example, tag a document company_X, proposal and unfinished, and you can easily find the document again by changing your filtering criteria: sort by company, or by proposals you’ve drafted, or by unfinished documents. Tagging is incredibly powerful)     Part two will go over the Google calendar for organizing yourself; keep track of appointments, birthdays and events, as well as coordinate with friends and colleagues for meetings, and the various Google utility tools (talk, reader and bookmarks), and the app that unites them all: iGoogle     

You’ve got mail! (on your phone)

You’re on the road, disconnected from your e-mail, not up to date and missing all sorts of important e-mails. What do you do? Well, if you have a mobile phone you can ask someone at the office to sit with your inbox open and read you all your e-mails, or you can use a Push e-mail service. Push e-mail eh? Tell me more! Ok! Push e-mail boils down to this: as soon as someone sends you an e-mail, your phone downloads it and goes beep! or brrring! or something to let you know you have a new e-mail. Sounds a little too simple to be revolutionary right? Well, what you save is the time needed to go through a laborious process of connecting your GPRS, dialing into your email server, downloading the emails if you have any and so on and so forth. (This would be ‘pull e-mail’ – user initiated checking in with the e-mail server to pull any new e-mails off it and onto the phone.) What you gain is the ability to read and respond to important emails straight away while traveling, and stay up to date on what’s happening back at the office. Ok, and it works how? For Push e-mail to work you need to have a service which will monitor your mail server for new email and ‘push’ them to your phone for you. The Blackberry phones which you can buy come with this service bundled for example. If you don’t want to be tied to a blackberry phone, you can use various other services which have sprung up around push e-mail such as the Dubai based Productiva or a free service like emoze. Still don’t understand, it works how? Ok it boils down to this: Pull e-mail [Mail server] / *new mail* <--- user checks in --- [phone]. New emails downloaded. Push e-mail [Mail server] / *new mail* —- mail sent —-> [phone]. Phone beeps with new email. Right, ok. Those services you mentioned, got a recommendation? Blackberry Well, I haven’t used a blackberry phone personally but from everything I hear they are pretty neat. The downside is that you will be tied to the blackberry phone, because right now the blackberry push e-mail works only with blackberry phones. However, there is some news floating around that pretty soon windows mobile 6 users will be able to use the blackberry push e-mail service on their phones too, so you may want to wait for that to happen. Productiva Daniel has tried the Productiva services so he can give you a good account of how that works for him. Leave a comment Daniel! Free For the free services, there are only two things to be worried about: security and how they work. Security wise you need to inform yourself about what happens with your e-mails in between them being taken off the mail server and sent to your phone, who has the rights to the emails, etc. If you are dealing with alot of sensitive information, you need to check up on these things beforehand. How-it-works-wise, we will take emoze as an example. For emoze to function, you need to download a program from them and have it running on your home computer. The program will basically check your email from your computer, and then send it to your phone. Remember that secretary reading your emails to you which I mentioned? This is basically like that, which is a serviceable low cost solution if you care to leave your computer on 24 hours a day and you can have someone reboot it when the inevitable windows error strikes. As always, use the all knowing power of Google to do some research. Closing words? Well Productiva had some interesting statistics (and i quote): users can add upto 60 minutes of productive time to their workday (data from aberdeen group) Increased productive time can total upto 6 weeks anually (an increase of 12.5% in productivity So it may be worth it to you to find out some more. What it boils down to is this: If you have sensitive information and need things to just work: you will need to pay for it. This means either a blackberry phone & their bundled service, or Productiva depending on how Daniel rates them. If you just want access to your emails and you can handle the occasional glitch and down time, check out a free service like emoze.

Why would you like to help out with the Beta?

Finally got around to putting up a list of why people wanted to help out with the beta. Here’s the reasons, some are quite funny actually. ‘Why not?’ is especially inspiring, be warned, this is raw user feedback! Q: Why would you like to help out with the Beta? Why not? To see if the differences would really benfit us as agents, and out of pure interest. Because I think the concept is very good but it is not user friendly at all. If it gets more user friendly, I think there is no other s/w with such features available in the market so far Because I want the best system to be avalaible to all. Any improbements are welcomed. (like spelling?) Time to time we come across suggestion, concerns, that could be beneficial for masterkey implementation. Besides i am curious of how the new system looks like. I would like to input my comments (Because I) helped design it! I think I have worked on masterkey long enough to give valuble input ya

Congratulations The Wave: Successful launch

I’d just like to congratulate The Wave Sales Team, they did a wonderful job at the Kempinski Hotel, Mall of the Emirates and sold out the phase in just 48 hours. That’s virtually unheard of now in Dubai, and reminds me of 3 years ago.   Of course, I’d love to highlight that they had 2 sales centers running concurrently, and this wouldn’t have been possible without MasterKey. They also used a MasterPlan to help sell the townhouses, but of course I forgot to take a picture of the thing. Perhaps the Wave would be kind enough to send me a picture?   Anyway, you can just make it out, half of it, in the corner on the right. The full MasterPlan is on their website.     They’ve also started construction of their first phase, and I had a chance to go down to Muscat and see it first hand. It’s a little strange driving around in a Range Rover crossing mounds of carefully carved sand and hearing ‘Here’s the boulevard, starting at that stick right… there… see it… the one with the orange ribbon. Here’s where the lake starts, yes we’re in the middle of the lake now.’ Great feeling to be at the start of a project this size, and to see how it all comes together. Other links:Read the press release, or take a look at The Wave’s website, or The Wave’s MasterPlan built by MasterKey.

New Improved Login

We’ve just added a better login for the blog. Several users we’re getting a bit lost when trying to log in to the blog, so we’ve put the login in the sidemenu on the right. When you log in it’s also nice enough to keep you in the blog, and doesn’t send you to the admin area. Comment here if you’ve got any feedback about the blog, we’re happy to make changes and improve it!

The invasion of property listing websites in Dubai

There are few things faster than the construction of property in Dubai, but the wave of property listing websites in Dubai are definitely keeping up with the pace. Some are brilliantly designed, some are not. Some have current listings, others do not. So, which ones do you go for? To achieve the maximum exposure in a over-served market; all of them… right? Wrong, and here’s why. As a broker, you’re serving two sets of clients. The Sellers and The Buyers. The Seller’s point of view: The Seller wants to sell his property quickly and at a price that either makes him a good premium or allows for him to offload the unit quickly. When choosing a broker, a common question to ask is where you’ll be advertising his property. If you say ‘everywhere’ that’ll please him immensely, and all is well. In most cases, whether we like it or not, the Seller will also go to other real estate brokers, repeat the same action and the property will get listed as a duplicate on the listing sites. No problem for him, but a problem for you as you’re now competing with the other companies for the same listing, and a few dirhams out of pocket for the listing cost. The Buyer’s point of view: On the other hand, you’ve got the internet buyer, lets call him Joe. I’ve been in Joe’s shoes and it’s a frustrating experience. Joe naturally does a Google search on available property, sifts through many of the top real estate companies, and eventually EUREKA! Joe finds the if-its-in-Dubai-its-on-our-listing-site listings site. They have every company Joe’s just been looking through (except maybe a select few brokers), 1,000s of listings which allows Joe to compare like for like and get a good idea on pricing. So poor old Joe starts calling the listings, and here’s where it breaks down. 1st listing: No, we don’t have anything in Dubai Marina. 2nd listing: No, that property is not available. 3rd listing: Yes, of course we have something, just give us your name, number and we’ll spam… I mean… get back to you After 45 mins of Joe calling, speaking to people who seem to know nothing, he leaves that site, never to return again. Even, if by chance, he finds a property the entire experience was so frustrating that he will likely never go back to that website. From that point onwards you’re either wasting your money by listing on that website, or wasting your time trying to keep your listings up to date. So why bother with these listings sites? A good listing site provides you with the tools to effectively showcase your properties, and gives buyers the tools to efficently search for a property. Why affiliate your companies with websites that do not deliver these simple advantages? Think quality, not quantity. If you want to find a good listings site, ask them a few simple questions. 1. Are your listings are constantly up to date? How? 2. Do properties disappear after a set date? Show me. 3. When I make a sale does it come off your listings immediately? How? 4. Do the market leaders list on your site? Who? In my book, a no to any of these answers, or worse, a yes without the proof, means you should think twice before listing with them.