by CIO New Zealand

CIO100 2018 #31-100: Todd Cassie of Harcourts International

Mar 28, 2018
Cloud Computing Digital Transformation Innovation

Mobility, big data and international growth are priority areas for the ICT team at Harcourts International.

“We expanded our award-winning mobility suite of apps by introducing our own bespoke corporate app store to deliver additional functionality to our highly mobile workforce,” says Todd Cassie, global CIO at Harcourts International.

“Our apps are only available for our sales force and so we do not present them via the Apple App Store. This has meant that installation and maintenance of apps has been a difficult somewhat manual process for our users.

“The development of a dedicated Harcourts App store allows us to easily deploy over the air updates to our people, notify of changes as well as pull in and promote preferred third-party apps that we support or integrate with.

“We have seen growth in our subscription base as a direct result of simplifying the deployment of apps through our app store,” he says.

He says these were critical considerations throughout his team’s development planning.

A key challenge had been making all of the documents related to a property available to the public. It had traditionally been managed by the company’s agents making use of file share services such as DropBox.

This, Cassie says, had a number of risks and challenges but specifically:

  • Inability to tie documents to a listing

  • Lack of analytics as to whom was accessing files

  • Some files due to their nature needed to be provided only to qualified clients.

“Our solution was to develop an integrated module that allows our agents to make any number of files and file types available directly via the listing to our websites.

Customers are then able to request access to the files with little or no involvement.

The agent also has the the ability to update the potential client with more information as it comes available.

“We can make files ‘approved access only’, so that any requests for access to that file may need to be approved by the agent or their administrator. They can approve this simply from a button in the email advising of the access request,” says Cassie.

There is regular communication through the global organisation, he says, with the use of monthly video updates as well as the sharing of his business plans on a quarterly basis.

“As a member of the senior leadership team who are geographically dispersed across the world, we use a structured communications programme and stay in regular contact.

“We are in to a pilot with Facebook Workplace, we will likely go global with the product this year, to bridge the gap across our global teams and ensure that we can quickly and efficiently communicate (two ways) with our wider team,” he says.

“As part of our global strategic planning, I share a ‘Things to think about’ booklet with the wider global leadership team, to share what we are thinking about for the year ahead.

“This enables them to attend our annual planning workshops with a better view of where we are moving and the likely paths that we will take. They can then contribute effectively and provide real feedback to us,” says Cassie.