Dallas-based Lincoln Property Co. prides itself on meeting its clients' needs. That's especially true when it comes to supplying timely portfolio information on the properties it manages for third-party investor clients. In fact, Lincoln will often give institutional owners access to its property management software systems, so those investors can slice and dice real-time data on their own properties any time they'd like.

But sometimes, giving clients the answers they want, when they want them, can result in even more questions. That's what happened recently when a client called to ask about higher-than-normal delinquencies at a particular property. "They called on the third of the month and asked why the delinquency was so high," says Brian Galla, Lincoln's director of information technology. "Of course, rent isn't really late until after the fifth."

Jason Abbott

That small example highlights a new wrinkle in the industry's rush toward real-time data and access to that information. As owners and institutional clients clamor louder and louder for up-to-the-minute stats, management firms and technology vendors must be prepared to deal with the real-life challenges of providing real-time statistics to their business partners, from availability to context.

"Was that a big deal?" Galla asks, referring to his client's delinquency question. "No, but you're going to get those people who look at real-time information and not necessarily understand what it means. In that case, it was just the natural trend of cash-flow balances in a typical month."

So much for saving time and money by providing instant access to information.