Published on the 27/10/2016 | Written by Anthony Caruana
We hear the word innovation all the time. After all, no-one wants to be thought of as not being innovative…
But when digital real estate company REA started business, it was completely disruptive to traditional real estate.
Damian Fasciani, head of technology for the REA Group, has embarked on a journey to transform the company into a completely service driven organisation. Part of that has been a structural change in the business away from traditional departments such as finance, marketing and sales towards a product-based structure.
When Fasciani joined REA Group in 2010 – he says he is now a veteran – the company had about 250 people and he had a staff of eight.
“There were a lot of legacy business systems in the organisations. There was an operations team that did IT projects and there was a support team and help desk. There was a lot of laborious process. There was not structure, vision or purpose about why corporate IT were doing what they were doing,” he recalled.
Today, Fasciani says it’s a very different business.
He started by looking at the structure of his team and gave them more autonomy and putting people in place that could make day-to-day decisions so he could focus on more strategic matters.
He also looked at what key systems were in place but, despite being highly functional, these were not well supported or used because of a skills deficit.
“I wanted to take our hands away from managing infrastructure and data centres to managing the realistic ship between technology and people,” said Fasciani.
That meant deprecating old technologies and replacing them with SaaS applications. The process started with implementing a new service desk system; this effectively proved the value of SaaS platforms to the business and acted as a springboard for future initiatives.
“It built transparency between IT and the organisation,” Fasciani remarked.
The organisational change from traditional departments to line-of-business groups created four new businesses within the REA Group.
“At that point, I got rid of ITIL, I got rid of procedural-based execution in the team. We adopted our own form of agile and we became a very fast paced, culturally different technology team that was able to work at the same pace as the organisation,” said Fasciani.
One of the more interesting initiatives Fasciani described is the company’s Innovation Hub. REA Group has adopted a “Choose your own Device” strategy for its staff. The Innovation Hub is reminiscent of an Apple Store genius bar, said Fasciani. It’s a place where people can walk up and start playing with the latest devices so they get a hands-on experience of different notebooks, tablets and smartphones before selecting their preferred device.
He also has an internal consulting team that works directly with the lines of business when they need something new. They can assist with the use of the wide range of SaaS tools used in the business, including Zendesk, Okta, Box.net, or assist with finding and selecting new tools.
In addition, Fasciani has an infrastructure team that conducts R&D into new and emerging technologies. Part of that team’s brief is to take an API-led approach, using MuleSoft as part of its cloud strategy.
REA’s external customers are real estate agents. The systems deployed internally provide Fasciani with an opportunity to not only improve services but to make processes and performance more transparent. This way, the real estate agents not only get better outcomes but they can see entire processes.
“We’ve become very data driven now. We monitor success on a monthly basis. We use a product called SkyHigh which gives usage metrics on all our applications in the workplace – data in our systems and what parts of the business are using certain technologies,” he added.
Not content to just roll along, Fasciani said he has just launched an internal survey to look for more opportunities to refine and improve his team’s service delivery.