What’s your assessment of the Covid-19, in terms of challenges faced and opportunities identified?
Covid-19 has been an invisible threat and continues to have economic and epidemiological impact and has affected businesses across categories at multiple levels. Countries and companies are making cautious and concerted effort to transition toward the next normal, and planning scenarios across multiple horizons. While on one hand there is grim economic news, but one is also observing a watchful streak of optimism that many are starting to feel. Executives are coming to terms with the reality and working around the problem and hoping that the real estate business would soon be doing better.
‘Consumers stay home, stay safe and work from home’ is uttered innumerable times across conversations, social media, broadcast channels, etc. In many ways this has been the best thing to happen to this category in years. We have to believe that those who do not own a home yet, are seriously going to consider the need for a permanent and primary address. Never and, perhaps never again, will the need for a safe and sound family abode be more accentuated than the present global scenario. As an industry we have to leverage this positive consumer sentiment.
Another positive trend that one is observing is that the sector is opting for tech-driven reality in the Covid-19 scenario. Technology has brought changes in the way real estate transactions will be carried out. Digital and virtual flavour in the real estate space has been extensively prevalent during Covid days. As social distancing emerges as the new normal, shifting from offline to online assume far greater relevance. In the realty space, the use of technology tools such as artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR) and data analytics, among others, has become paramount than ever before. Innovations like virtual property tours and digital onboarding of the customer have become the new normal in the industry.
How was your preparedness and how has Xanadu, as an organisation, coped with the crisis, in terms of business processes, IT practices, organisational culture?
The current lockdown that has been imposed upon us all in the account of the Covid-19 pandemic has triggered significant changes in the way all organisations – large and small – are being run. For a people-first organisation like Xanadu, managing the delivery of business and serving the interests of the ever-increasing list of clients needs to be balanced with keeping its people safe, engaged, and happy. Ensuring that our associates are constantly engage is of paramount importance in the current situation where physical meetings are not permitted. Over the past few months, we have driven continuous engagement of our associates with our leadership team.
Most importantly, Xanadu has honoured all hiring offers that it had made prior to the lockdown and has continued hiring to ensure the company is at 100 per cent capacity on day zero post lockdown. We have also enabled free online health check-ups for associates and their families, available from the safety of their homes. Moreover, we recently launched an innovative digital talent hunt – Xanadu’s Got Talent – which encourages all associates to express themselves and share it with the rest of the organisation, making the WFH fun.
We also deployed an L&D platform focused on self-learning to ensure that associates use this time to up their skill quotients. To ensure our associates’ safety once the lockdown is lifted, we have introduced guidelines in the corporate office and sales office which includes defined engagement zones to ensure social distancing norms are maintained. Each zone will also have scheduled disinfection done to keep surfaces and contact areas safe.
The current focus on ‘Stay home, stay safe’ has reinforced the importance of home ownership. To ensure that the real estate companies are able to participate in this need, they must aim to provide superior home buying experience via technology interface which is as immersive as a face-to-face interactions.
Xanadu Realty has come up with a unique ‘human-tech’ interface that is helping customers make their home buying decisions at their own convenience. Firstly, it ensures the safety of everyone including employees, partners and customers. Secondly, it also helps the continuation of business by the roll out of a slew of new consumer propositions in the market and reduces risk by keeping the businesses salient during the lockdown.
A lot is being talked about AR and VR in the real estate space. What’s your take on this?
Sales will be digitally enabled. By embracing tech-enabled tools such as VR/AR, real estate professionals can create an extremely simulative experience and aid the customers’ decision making process. It will also augment the sales process with more efficiency for both buyers and sellers. In today’s real estate market, this approach will give a way to tour properties without having to see them physically. By viewing properties online in much more detail via a virtual tour, buyers can better narrow down the properties that meet their criteria. This process can save an estate agent a significant amount of time, as well as creating an immediate impression with the viewers.
What’s the digital road map and key focus areas for your organisation in the near future?
Digital will be a force multiplier for us and will be an integral part of our overall strategy. Selling will be digitally enabled, but just not digital, and we will see the emergence of the human-tech interface in a big way as far as the industry is concerned. The primary tenets of the same are as follows:
Precision targeted media
- Right media selection for the target consumer
- Understand consumer response to the campaign in real time
- Building a pipeline of leads
- Creating a curated and simulative experience for the customer
- One to many messaging basis customer lifecycle
- One to one personalised messaging
- Managing the pipeline of leads from the expression of interest to netting the deal
Data management and analytics
- Building a robust knowledge management system for data driven decision making