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Real estate firm CIO moves on amid shifts to shared services

Clint Boulton | Jan. 29, 2016
Durgesh Sharma is out at Colliers International after developing custom client and broker applications, which he hosted in Microsoft’s Azure public cloud.

Another custom app, Colliers’ OfficeExpert, helps brokers access information about properties, including data about building design, so that they can recommend appropriate offices to their client. Sharma also built a global referral app that enables clients to refer potential new business to a broker, a task that typically conducted via email. “We couldn’t track, measure or monitor how many referrals were being done,” Sharma says. “It reduces the broker’s cost of acquisition of a customer.”

Sharma says the biggest challenge at Colliers was convincing the firm’s real estate brokers to share data with the corporate CRM system, which is no mean feat among staff competing for the next big sale. He says he explained that sharing data grants them access to better data and more information about customers. “It was a cultural challenge: How do you help these people understand that sharing is better, and that you get a smaller piece of a bigger pie, versus a biggest piece of the smallest pie?” Sharma says.

Time to move on

Now Sharma is looking forward to new opportunities for 2016. He says he’s interested in either IT leadership or consulting roles. He’s particularly interested in business-to-consumer companies looking to tap the Internet of Things and analytics to strengthen the bonds between their brands and customers.

He says managing data is the key to improving the customer experience, a lesson he learned years ago while he helped Starbucks build a customer data hub. Those lessons also helped him at Colliers. "At the end of the day, you're going to have to spend a lot of time and energy in making sure your data infrastructure is top notch," Sharma says.

 

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