by Divina Paredes

CIO 100: Harcourts International

Mar 24, 2016
Technology Industry

HARCOURTS INTERNATIONAL AIMS to become the number one real estate franchise in the world. The plan over the next two decades is to be operating in 100 countries, says its CIO Jason Wills.

Wills says analytics plays a key role in meeting this goal.

“We must have two and a half thousand websites across the world, because we build a website for each of our sales consultants,” he says.

Harcourts has its headquarters in Brisbane, Australia, but the technology department is run from Christchurch. It now has nearly 800 offices across the globe, with sales consultants in Australia, Dubai, Indonesia, China, Hong Kong, South Africa and USA. This year, the team is helping with the group’s expansion in Canada.

“Harcourts are industry leaders in real estate technology,” says Wills.

A major ICT project is the centralisation of Harcourts’ global database. “We are also rebuilding our public websites using responsive technology,” says Wills.

He says the main website has always been mobile friendly but he needs to ensure this is the same for the systems in the office and those of the agents. Thus, customer experienceand user interface are key skills within the ICT team.

“We have got analytics across all those environments because what we find is we need to understand how our clients work,” says Wills.

“For instance, they may have mobile phones but they may be on an Android device, so we need to work out how to make our sites work for each device,” he says.

Harcourts also tracks the paths of clients when they navigate the website.

“Whether they are going to the residential, commercial or rental sites, we try to steer them through the right section using analytics.”

A project that is paving the way to achieve this global operations is moving Harcourts’ server infrastructure to Azure Cloud. Wills says Harcourts is also restructuring its systems to get into one database as the foundation for its business intelligence program.

“We have got property sales for the last 25 years so we should get some really good analytics to look at some trends.”

Wills says ICT budgets, projects and staff numbers will go up this year. Apart from the earlier projects mentioned, Harcourts will also invest in infrastructure consolidation and virtualisation, mobile technologies and enterprise architecture.