Today, if your clients were to protest on the street, their chant might go something like this: "What do we want? Information! When do we want it? Now!"

Managing information is indeed a critical priority for property management and homebuilding companies. Some companies own or manage over $1 billion in assets, yet are running multiple administrative systems that overlap, cause major inefficiencies and irritate clients.

That situation cannot continue. If they are not already, owners and tenants will soon demand immediate access to information from you. They'll want it immediately, without waiting for outdated, end-of-the month reporting. They'll demand Internet-based systems that give them access to information from any computer. They'll want to use the Internet to pay their rent. Condo owners will want to use the Internet to pay their maintenance fees. Construction managers will want to use it to check the status of their jobs and make after-sale service requests.

That's a lot to measure up to. Where can you turn for help? To a new generation of business software that not only allows companies to manage information, but uses it as a tool to better serve customers and clients. For example, our company, Newstar Solutions, recently launched two new software products that can provide critical information and, more importantly, the means to truly manage that information.

The first product, called Building Blocks, simplifies asset management by developing a centralized, facility-related database. Instead of using different, often conflicting databases for multiple sites, asset managers and system administrators can use the unified Building Blocks database to direct large, multi-facility sites, issue work orders, schedule preventive maintenance, inspect building conditions and make intelligent decisions on when to replace key assets. Now and in the future, programs such as Building Blocks will be vital to providing the detailed analysis needed to support effective decision making.

For example, say a building manager is getting ready to purchase 40 new replacement doors for his residential properties. Building Blocks could tell him when the old doors were purchased, who they were purchased from and when they were last maintained or updated. By projecting the expected life of the new doors based on these maintenance records, the building manager may discover that he should purchase 100 doors instead of 40 in order to meet projected needs. By doing so, he might also be able to take advantage of better volume discounts from the supplier.

With a growing roster of properties and clients, many property management and homebuilding firms face more pressure than ever to analyze key data and use it for strategic decision making. In today's economy, bad information means bad decisions.

Again, powerful software can help. Our second new product, Data-Q, allows companies to manage corporate and real estate data on several critical levels. It organizes and presents data in a business context, giving managers and executives the ability to explore and present data the way people - not computers - think.

We believe that software products such as Data-Q will be vital for companies that want to mine the valuable information they already have, select only the needed information and present it in a graphically meaningful way.

In the future, more people will be looking to access information such as this over the Internet in a secure, controlled way. For this reason, Newstar is focusing its development efforts on Internet solutions. These solutions may offer innovative ownership and rental options that reduce the cost of ownership and allow more users to access these powerful software tools.

New business models are being created every day, and the real estate industry is no exception. Firms that embrace and direct change by effectively managing information will be the ones that continue to grow their asset bases, and truly serve their clients.