We are a technology company. It is that simplePeter Mangin, realestate.co.nz\nPeter Mangin is the chief operating officer of realestate.co.nz, though the title does not adequately describe his responsibilities.\n\u201cWe think of the COO as the operations guy,\u201d says Mangin.\n\u201cWhereas, I am wearing the hat for a very specific reason. Because I am somewhat the CIO, CDO and CTO.\n\u201cI work across a very broad capacity,\u201d he points out.\n\u201cIn our organisation, marketing, product and technology are all part and parcel of the same thing," he says. \u201cTo be called the chief operating officer gives me a remit to operate across everything."\nThe website of realestate.co.nz provides the most comprehensive selection of property from licensed real estate professionals in the country.\nMangin says his team of 30 focus on using data to build a holistic view of homebuyers and real estate agents, and provide them personalised content and improve the ROI of their advertisers.\n\u201cWe don\u2019t sell any product. Our goal is to ensurerealestate.co.nz is New Zealand's most valued way to connect people to property, by providing the shortest path to the perfect property,\u201d he states.\n\u201cWe have a platform that provides people access to listings. We do it well and we have the most listings. We also have a large audience, we need to keep them engaged.\n\u201cWe are marketing-led, we are anything other than not technology-led. Without technology, nothing else works.\u201d\n\u201cWe are a technology company. It is that simple.\u201d\nRelated reading: In the digital world, every company is a technology company\nNo caption\nAll of our CRM, our infrastructure and website is in the cloud. Because that is the only way we can pipeline that much volume of data\nThe road to COO-plus\nMangin joined the company in February 2015, after a series of executive roles, including CIO and creative technologist at Saatchi Saatchi and IT manager for Publicis Groupe brands in New Zealand. Thus, he has worked closely with management, creative and digital teams.\nWhen he joined realestate.co.nz, the organisation had disparate pieces of information. There was no way to put them together and leverage them for simple things, likebusiness and market insights, he says.\nMangin explains what they did was to get all of the company's data, whether on the CRM system, website or the geospatial information, into a cohesive tool set and leveraged a data management platform (Salesforce DMP) to achieve this.\n\u201cWe are in a good place now. We capture a lot of data,\u201d he says.\n\u201cWhen we had individual silos it was a little bit tricky, he says. \u201cWe could look at different parts of the data in isolation, but now we can look at it holistically, in totality.\u201d\n\u201cWe are not only a publisher providing advertising in our website, but we can make sure it is relevant to that person,\u201d he says.\nHe says in the past a visitor to the website might be looking to move house and will see an ad that is completely unrelated.\nBut now, we know it may be that person will need a conveyancing lawyer, and that is the ad that will come out on screen.\n\u201cWe are better able to understand our audience and help them. Not as a group of people but increasingly more as an individual person.\n\u201cYou have got a better understanding of individual users,\u201d he explains. \u201cWhen you throw that all together, you also have a good understanding of what is happening in the market - both retrospectively and also predictively.\n"We needed a DMP (data management platform) to do that."\nPhoto by Divina Paredes\nWe don\u2019t sell any product. Our goal is to ensure realestate.co.nz is New Zealand's most valued way to connect people to property, by providing the shortest path to the perfect property\nFresh insights\n\u201cThrough our use of the DMP, we realised Aucklanders aged 25 to 35, when they start looking for a property, start with an apartment.\nAnd increasingly, that person is purchasing their property outside of Auckland, down the Kapiti Coast, north of Wellington.\nThey are still living in Auckland, he says, so the houses they were buying were rentals.\n\u201cThose are great insights,\u201d he says. \u201cNext time we see a 25 to 35 year old looking at apartments for the first time. rather than saying here are other apartments that meet your criteria, we have got articles on the website talking about an investment property as an option.\u201d\n\u201cWe can provide that relevance, so that is how we leverage it from a user experience point of view,\u201d he says.\n"From a content point of view, it has given us a real edge and the business intelligence,\u201d he says. \u201cIt is being able to see what is happening in the market, seeing shifts and being able to report that back to the industry."\nThey are able to discern trends, such as macro levelsby region, in terms of how people are moving around the country.\nFor instance, in Auckland, apartments are increasingly becoming a realistic option for young families. And that has a flow on effect to local councils, he says.\n\u201cWe can say [to councils] this is what these families tend to look at and why, and they are moving into this area. There may not be enough schools in this area.\u201d\n\u201cThe value of that to our partners is significant. It better enables them to service those areas of the country.\u201d\nHe says another insight found through the DMP was that real estate agents, especially those selling residential property, all come to the website on Wednesdays.\n\u201cAnd we asked, why is that?\n\u201cThey are checking their open homes to make sure they are all teed up for the weekend. So the best time if you want to send out a message to the industry, especially residential real estate agents, is to send it on a Wednesday.\n\u201cBecause, that is the time they are most highly engaged.\u201d\nIn another case, the company's data shows a group of people go to the website weekly to look at pictures of houses.\n"We know they tend to do that on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. So that is the best time to publish a blog article on, say, bathroom design. \n\u201cWe are getting better and better at doing it,\u201d he adds.\n\u201cWe have got a whole raft of new things coming online during the course of the year, to take it up a notch and just be more relevant."\nMangin holds a daily standup meeting with the team. His team includes the head of product and development who has eight developers under him. He also has one data scientist and a business analyst.\nThe business analyst is independent and reports to him, \u201cso no one can tell her what to do,\u201d says Mangin.\n\u201cPart of her remit is to actually challenge what we are doing actively. She really tests if it is going to be worthwhile and asks, why are we doing this?\u201d\n\u201cShe helps ensure the focus is on customer service, and what we need to be focused on in terms of priorities and responsibilities."\nGetting the data layer right\nOn the business technology side, Mangin says they have moved their systems to AWS.\n\u201cInternally we have got no infrastructure, no file server, nothing, " he states.\u201cEverything is in the cloud.\u201d\n\u201cThat is an advantage for us because we capture so much data. All of our CRM, our infrastructure and website is in the cloud. Because that is the only way we can pipeline that much volume of data.\u201d\nAs to what worked for the company, he says key was sitting down and defining a strategy and a data layer.\nIn building the strategy, we asked, 'As a business, what do we need to achieve? What data do we need to be capturing to achieve that? And how do we tie it all together?'\nAs he wrote in a blog for realestate.co.nz, \u201cRather than capturing pieces of information here and there, a data layer allows an organisation to define a common data \u2018language\u2019 \u2013 a universal structure, with a common key to sew it together later on...I cannot stress how important this is. Get the data layer right - if this has not been considered, you\u2019re walking into a gold mine armed with a spoon.\u201d\n\u201cMy holy grail is when you come to the website, a user will say, 'This is who I am. This is where I live but I want to move'.\n\u201cWe are able to say, have you thought about these areas because they are very similar? You said you like XYZ, you may even think of this one, which is left of field. But look at what you can do for your money.\u201d\n\u201cYou find all of a sudden, people aren't so focused on that suburb and you can apply that quite broadly,\u201d says Mangin.\n\u201cIt is just iterating and learning...and iterating and learning.\u201d\nPeter Mangin of realestate.co.nz: We are better able to understand our audience and help them. Not as a group of people but increasingly more as an individual personhellip;.You also have a good understanding of what is happening in the market - both retrospectively and also predictively. We needed a data management platform to do that.\nPeter Mangin is one of the ICT leaders interviewed for the2017 State of the CIO report, held in conjunction with theCIO Executive Council.\nSend news tips and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org\nFollow Divina Paredes on Twitter:@divinap\nFollow CIO New Zealand on Twitter:@cio_nz\nJoin us on Facebook.