Managing successful transformation in the real estate sector
As Head of Information Technology at Azizi Group, Hashim Saeed is responsible for overseeing the overall IT operations across the organisation as well as setting up IT strategies and roadmaps, while providing direction, guidance and vision for the IT department. Azizi Developments is a valuable and admired real estate development company in the UAE. Azizi Developments extends its expertise in developing iconic master-planned communities in Dubai.
Establishing a culture of innovation is one thing, while sustaining that culture is another. The way Azizi sustains a creative, exploratory culture is by rewarding employees. Having the employees motivated and empowered by the head of departments and with the authority they need, has made a dramatic improvement to the overall organisation.
“Digital transformation can be defined as a fundamental rethinking of how we use technology, people, processes to radically change business performance. We change the way we deliver value to customers. We have already started working closely with customers and getting them engaged through the use of technologies that enable them to view products, select them, book them, and pay using a secured customer portal,” explains Saeed.
Since digital transformation is an ongoing journey and not a destination, the role of the business heads is to have a clear picture of where they want to go. What is the end game for their transformation? Is it customer obsession, revenue growth, cost reduction, process improvement, greater competitive differentiation, accelerated innovation, increased market share, improved shareholder value, all of the above, or perhaps something more?
Depending on the business unit, the business heads should have strategies and roadmaps towards digital transformation, which eventually improves their business performance. These strategies must be aligned with the overall organisational strategy. They need to list down and prioritise them based on the importance and urgency in a sequential manner. They have to work closely with the technology leader of their organisation to understand how technologies available in the market can help them achieve their business transformation objectives and dreams.
The business heads have to ensure that the digital transformation vision is shared with both internal and external entities, that they deal with, as this may introduce changes in the traditional style and approach of how things were done. The expectations must be set clearly and agreed prior to implementation else this may fail. Having business heads agreed on digital transformation is a golden opportunity for technology leaders as it is easier to proceed with technologies that support business goals.
Digital transformation offers an extraordinary opportunity for technology leaders to step forward and take a leadership role in helping their organisations leverage technology to automate more of the operations, address growing customer needs, break into new markets, and stay relevant for the long term. Technology leaders are the closest and most familiar with new technologies that are driving transformation, as well as have a unique view across the enterprise.
Their role is therefore to work closely with business heads to see the interdependencies that exist between organisational functions and business units. This distinct perspective allows them to identify opportunities for streamlining systems and processes and apply transformative business improvements.
In order for them to successfully drive digital transformation efforts, they need to overcome a number of hurdles. Amongst the biggest is the cultural challenges associated with convincing organisational leaders and their teams to embrace digital transformation. This is particularly so since it involves making changes to work styles and traditional business processes.
Technology leaders need to make sure; everyone understands what the end goal is and their role in making these changes. This starts with clearly communicating the vision for the digital transformation objectives across various roles and organisational teams. Once the digital vision has been shared with all stakeholders, the technology leaders must determine how they can optimally structure their team to deliver these business objectives. They may need to consider bringing in fresh talent from outside and continually building up the knowledge base of the internal team.
“Digital transformation brings in a series of changes. It is very important that we really think through leading indicators that will help us measure the impact of digital investments ahead of the actual impact on things like revenue and customer satisfaction,” points out Saeed.
Digital transformation metrics must be aligned with measuring where traction is achieved in digital capability versus the results achieved at the end of a transformation. This helps assess and refine transformation efforts continuously. Requisite measures to be used vary from industry and even by company.
Measuring effectiveness of transformation in real estate
In the real estate industry, digital transformation metrics are required that span functions and can be measured on a continuous basis. These can include the following:
#1 Operational improvement
Digital transformation is a continuous improvement initiative that changes mindsets and behaviors. These are difficult to measure. Operational metrics may include task automation, productivity, application performance that result in improved business performance. Employees need to adapt to the changes and start using the tools that have been deployed. Adoption should be measured no less than weekly to gauge momentum.
#2 Customer experience
In order to look for signs of improved customer experience, we need to be able to measure how successfully customers can navigate across the ecosystems. Metrics to be used include share of voice, customer acquisition costs, customer lifetime value, retention rates. By using the Azizi platform, customers are able to view statements, available units, payment plans, make payments, payment status, receive campaigns and communicate directly within the platform.
#3 Financial impact
Digital transformation leaders are held to growth targets. Measures are required to monitor progress on a daily or weekly basis. These should provide an indication of whether efforts are heading in the right direction. It is critical to look for financial measures that provide incentives for the enterprise to embrace digital change even though impact on revenue or margins does not happen overnight. Financial value of the efforts can be tracked by increase in productivity or revenue per employee.
- What is the end game for business heads in transformation?
- Digital transformation is an ongoing journey and not a destination.
- Digital transformation offers an opportunity for technology leaders to take a leadership role.
- Having business heads agreed on digital transformation is a golden opportunity for technology leaders
- Technology leaders are closest and most familiar with new technologies that are driving transformation.
- Digital transformation brings in a series of changes.
- Business heads need to have a clear picture of where they want to go.
- Technology leaders need to make sure; everyone understands what the end goal is and their role.
- Technology leaders must determine how to optimally structure their team to deliver business objectives.
- Biggest hurdle is cultural associated with organisational leaders and their teams to embrace digital transformation.
- Cultural challenges involve making changes to workstyles and traditional business processes.
- Digital transformation metrics must be aligned with measuring where traction is achieved in digital capability.
Azizi Group’s Hashim Saeed covers the landscape of how to manage cultural changes during a transformation exercise and how to measure its success.