Technology Enablement with Costas Koureas, IT Director at MAPP
The perennial challenge to drive efficiency and ‘do more with less’ has made utilising technology for business advantage top of the agenda. In the last five years alone, the breadth of technologies available to professional services firms has grown rapidly and has the potential to completely transform the working world. However, the complexity of the landscape and the ability to successfully navigate and embed the ever-evolving multitude of technology options remains a major challenge.
Throughout the months of December and January, Alternative Insights will look through the lens of those involved in technology enablement, initially exploring the challenges of gaining business buy-in from within the property sector when it comes to technology investment, with Costas Koureas, IT Director at MAPP…
The conversation around IT being the business and the business being IT has been a subject at conferences, networking events and roundtables over the past five years and I firmly believe that this subject will continue to be further explored in the future. Although there has certainly been a blending of the two, I’m in no doubt that the provision of much of what is provided of the expected fundamentals such as email, file sharing and access to the internet, all on an enterprise scale, whilst considered critical to business operationally, remain almost solely the domain of the IT department.
Much of the real estate industry is (finally) progressing at a great pace with the spotlight being focused on the experience of the customer, whether it be business to business or business to consumer and much of this experience being driven, or at least delivered, by technology. In the managing agent arena many of these tech implementations are aimed directly at occupiers, and as such the buy in for investment in them must be sought in at least two stages, initially, internally from stakeholders and particularly those who head the client instructions. They must be confident the solution will have the greatest positive impact on the occupiers they serve and the sites they represent. Here the challenge is reduced if there is a clear understanding of what the occupiers need and that a documented plan exists – a roadmap of future projects. The second stage involves presenting the technology to property owners. Ultimately the final say is frequently theirs, and the scale of the challenge depends on a number of different factors, perhaps the most important being what the strategy is for the portfolio and the perceived benefit to the investment. Articulating this need is not yet as straightforward as we might like.
Working with the wider business to understand the pain and pinch points of existing operational processes from the outset, including key stakeholders in the scoping, specification and testing of solutions throughout the journey which include defining a clearly documented set of expected benefits is essential in raising awareness, getting buy in and achieving the desired business outcome. Quantitatively displaying ROI or expected increases in productivity and efficiencies go some way to building a case for financial investment, however what does remain difficult to quantify are both client and employee satisfaction or indeed the improved morale which comes from using a faster, more intuitive modern tech solution. It’s my belief that there is often more to be gained from the knock on effect of improving the general contentment and job satisfaction of co-workers through tech advancement than many other traditional methods.
It remains an underlying expectation that the tech team can deliver more with the same resources, yes IT has and is changing due to the continued development of public cloud services, serverless computing and the adoption of more and more SaaS solutions to name a few. Less time is now spent managing infrastructure and more is dedicated to delivering value and solutions to the business which add both complexity, and a renewed set of expectations that platforms will play nicely together. Securing investment from the business for investment in IT resources and the upskilling of existing staff through training to deliver these solutions remains a challenge and is often more difficult to measure in the short term than the outcomes from technology platforms aimed at directly improving operations on day one, but training and development can have a much greater effect on the business’s future capabilities.
Communication and transparency of what IT are working on, how implementations are progressing, together with the allocation of resources contribute to successfully gaining current and future tech investment. Through continued cross departmental collaboration, IT and the business become one and the same, creating a positive cycle of securing additional investment, ensuring that expectations are met and perhaps most importantly that IT and the business create synergies from removing the historic silo between operation and delivery of the business strategy.