by Byron Connolly

Property firm to shake up industry with mobile apps, Google Glass

Oct 10, 2014 4 mins
Technology Industry

Property management is perhaps an industry where you would least expect to see a great deal of technology innovation. But the local arm of facilities and properties management services firm, DTZ, is an exception.

Led by GM of technology, Saurabh J Jain, the organisation has created two mobile apps and a Google Glass app in an attempt to disrupt its industry and get the jump on competitors.

Speaking to CIO Jain said the company – which manages 25,000 properties in Australia and contracts out $1.5 billion in business yearly – is infusing technology into everything it does to differentiate its services from competitors.

He said DTZ it disrupting its industry before “a dozen people in a garage come and completely destroy our business.”

The company has upgraded its backend JD Edwards (JDE) ERP system, and over the past year, created two mobile apps, Work Order Management and My Workplace.

Work Order Management provides mobile users with a snapshot of work orders assigned and closed, displays location data with directions, and work orders based on a user’s current location among other things.

My Workplace lets users log service requests, provides workplace information, and help on various aspects of the workplace including technology, and health and safety.

“For instance, say you’re in a customer’s office and there a safety hazard that you want to log, you can a photograph with our mobile app and log a work order,” said Jain.

The work order is then send to the JD Edwards application and to a contractor at the site who check in via the app and is altered to the issue that needs to be resolved. The contractor then indicates when the job is completed, said Jain.

“Mobile apps make a lot of sense for a lot of [situations], said Jain. “Where they don’t make sense if where you want to be completely frictionless – if you want to send someone information just at the right time,” said Jain.

This is where Google Glass comes in. DTZ has created ‘DTZ Vision’, an app for Glass that takes the mobile experience further. The solution is being trialled by an organisation in Australia, which Jain declined to name.

“If you want to create a work order, you can create it through Glass without having to type in any information – you just speak.

The Glass app shoots a video, uploads it to a server, figures out who you are, where you are, what the issue was, transcribes the work order to text, and logs it in JDE, Jain said.

“In about three minutes, you are notified that it’s been logged. That’s the clever stuff that we are trying to do,” he said.

Jain said the company is also trying to figure out how to supplement information provided by the mobile apps with data from Glass.

For instance, a person approaching one of DTZ’s buildings for the first time wearing Glass will be given the details of people who are working onsite.

“You can click and talk and you work through everything, you’re played a safety video,” said Jain. “So you’re fully inducted by the time you get in there.

“It’s all that stuff you wouldn’t have though to ask that we are pushing out to Glass.

“At some point we will be able to say ‘here’s a complete technology solution without any human intervention.”

DTZ does have one issue – Glass units are still quite difficult to get a hold of in Australia. To get around this, DTZ has started developing apps for Apple and Android smartwatches.

“We probably [will] just flick over to them [the watches]. If you ask me, I think Glass will always stay a gimmick – it’s too invasive. Walking into a bathroom with a camera on is just not right. But I think the watch and the other wearables will take off.”

Jain demonstrated the solution at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco last week.

Byron Connolly travelled to San Francisco as a guest of Oracle.

Follow CIO Australia on Twitter and Like us on Facebook… Twitter: @CIO_Australia, Facebook: CIO Australia, or take part in the CIO conversation on LinkedIn: CIO Australia

Follow Byron Connolly on Twitter:@ByronConnolly