The real estate industry in India is undergoing a transformation for accountability and regulations in place, ensuring an organized market. This is coming through multiple implementations and changes in the recent past. Owing to the implementation of the Real Estate Regulation Act, and the Goods and Services Tax Bill stricter compliance norms will come into place.However, this industry promises to grow at a rate of 30 percent over the next decade and is said to be the second largest employer in the country, reports India Fund Equity Foundation. Also, reports suggest the fiscal year of 2008-2020, will see an expected CAGR of 11.2 percent.Given the massive scale of real estate business, technology has a crucial role to play. We have on board three IT decision makers: \u00a0Rahul Mahajan, VP-IT, K Raheja Corp; Chitaranjan Kesari, GM and IT head, Omkar Realtors and Developers; Shailesh Joshi, IT Advisor, who give us a perspective of what this year holds in terms of understanding the expectations, challenges and innovations within the real estate sector\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0As a CIO, what are your priorities for 2017?Rahul Mahajan: From an IT perspective, keeping the systems hygienic enough to avoid any default on the compliance and statutory requirements is quite a priority this year. Our priority is to overcome this challenge. This is to ensure that we make our systems and processes work towards the Real Estate Regulation and Development Act compliance and meeting the requirements through the IT systems.Chitaranjan Kesari:\u00a0Our priority for 2017, is we are going for some virtual reality and mobility projects, and cloud backups. It also means we are reaching out to our customers through some mobile apps. And we are also looking at upgrading our security systems.Shailesh Joshi:\u00a0The employees today want everything on-the-go, so as far as the technology is concerned, mobility will be a priority, and moving most of the things to the cloud is another one. Apart from that, moving all our applications and technologies to suit the RERA Act, would be a focus point for me this year.What are the new business challenges your company is facing this year?\u00a0Mahajan: If you look at the real estate industry in India, it has always been an uncontrolled sector or a non-regulated sector in that sense. With the government coming up with the RERA which would include the formulation of rates for investors, the biggest business challenge we would face is the compliance with its standards and how we cope with it as an organization.Kesari: Demonetization has impacted the real estate business, so we are looking to handle its impacts better with technology implementations. Also, information security is one of the challenges we are looking to resolve this year.Joshi: Streamlining all our processes in time for RERA as well as GST will be a challenge this year.How do you intend to leverage IT to overcome business challenges?Mahajan:\u00a0Modifying our ERP and CRM systems to accommodate changes for GST is in the pipeline. Also, improvizations for the RERA and REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust) is going to be the key focus this year. This is so, we don\u2019t default as an organization.Kesari:\u00a0We understand the basic problems and are striving towards implementing better and advanced solutions for the same.Joshi:\u00a0We are looking at expanding on cloud and mobility for backend. For our customers, we are looking at not just virtual reality but e-brochures, e-snagging. We are looking at everything on a portal with the status, payments and invoices for the buyer.What new technologies are you looking at implementing in 2017? Are you looking at VR as a potential investment?\u00a0Mahajan: Keeping VR in mind, we are looking to develop a customer experience center in mind. As the customer comes in to our office, we can help them navigate the apartment sitting in the center. The technology we are exploring today enables someone to try out different shades of wall paint or furniture. In case of a high rise building, our feature would answer questions like how would the view of a flat would look like from an apartment, or how to catch the best sunset or sunrise. Additionally, an app is in the making wherein we can scan a 2D drawing and the viewer can see the property in detail. This is meant to cater to who are unable to come all the way to our locations.Kesari:\u00a0One of the main projects we are working on is with VR. Our design team is working creating a VR element for our flats and sites.Joshi: We are looking at expanding on cloud and mobility for our backend. For our customers, we are looking at not just VR, but e-brochures, e-snagging too. We are looking at everything on a portal with the status, payments and invoices for the buyer.\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0\u00a0Do you think digitization can play a key role in accelerating innovation in the industry?Mahajan:\u00a0Real estate as a market is primarily driven by the area. The only differentiator today is the technology, irrespective of the builder. Going forward, the differentiator is going to be the technology innovations provided in the apartments and those will drive the sales upwards or downwards. For instance, we are looking to provide a fiber tour as a technology innovation to those who live in our apartments. We will get one fiber to your door which enables internet, surveillance cameras within the building, smart TV.Kesari:\u00a0Innovation is definitely a part and parcel of IT, especially in this industry. For instance, we have recently implemented digitization tools with mobile apps for redevelopment across 50,000 slums. This means we carry out collection of data through the mobile app for this project. \u00a0Joshi: Innovation is not just limited to our IT technologies. In real estate, it can also be implemented in buildings, or for automated cafeteria management system, automated parking system or automated security systems. So digitization is able to expand to all these areas and not just to the core IT.