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Cloud investments drive iProperty Group's 'mobile first' strategy: interview

AvantiKumar | May 6, 2014
Headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, Asia's online property portal's incoming CIO Harmit Singh says that the company's 'mobile first' approach is in harmony with Asia's embrace of mobility.

Harmit Singh, recently appointed CIO of Asia's online iProperty Group, headquartered in Malaysia, briefly outlines some of company's plans, which hinge around its 'mobile first' attitude and why this approach is in harmony with Malaysia's rapid adoption of mobility.

Some of the moves include a redesign of the online portal in 2012 by a team of digital experts with a focus on mobile accessibility as well as 'a unique floor planning application,' which is available to property buyers in Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Macau and Singapore to help them find their ideal property.

iProperty Group new CIO - modified modified

Photo - Harmit Singh, CIO, iProperty Group.

Could we start with a brief outline of some of the current challenges and projects on your agenda?

The cooling measures introduced last year is something that the property industry is still coming to terms with, and that impacts online property portals such as ourselves as well. Also the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), which came into force on 15 February this year in Malaysia, will impact how companies collect and utilise data belonging to individuals.

The iProperty Group is a fast paced internet company. There are a lot of ideas on the ground so execution is most important. We work in an Agile development environment which allows us to be nimble and adjust quickly to business needs. My experience previously with Malaysia Airlines where I was in charge of technical implementation of e-Commerce helps quite a bit as we start monetizing our digital assets at iProperty. The main challenge I have currently is to maximize the return on our investments in IT and get the "biggest bang for our buck"

In addition, we are continuing with our 'mobile first' strategy. Without giving away too many secrets, mobile has been identified as a key enabler for our business. We are working on several exciting projects, and we will be releasing updates in the near future.

Would you agree there is an explosion of mobility and mobile working especially in Malaysia: how are you coping with this internally and externally?

We have not formally installed any bring-your-own device [BYOD] policies yet, instead our work on mobility is focused more on our consumer and agents facing apps.

Our investments in Cloud technologies is paying off as we're happy to report that online and mobile access continues to grow at healthy rates and is expected to continue an upwards trend. In addition, our Cloud investments bring us the capacity to be scalable and additional traffic as it occurs.

Also, our iProperty Product team continues to place a lot of emphasis on innovation and on delivering value to both consumers and customers. Our customer relationship management [CRM] rollout is close to completion and this has helped our sales teams understand the customer better and to package the right product for them.

Our position as Asia's No.1 in the online property portal space means we have the highest amount of listings on our sites, and the depth and coverage that we provide to developer launches allows our websites and mobile apps to become the top choice for consumers looking to purchase properties.

iProperty has chosen Malaysia as its headquarters: what sort of pros and cons does that present to you when addressing the wider regional market?

Actually, Malaysia has a good talent pool of IT resources and excellent technical infrastructure so it makes sense to house our core development team here. We also have smaller development teams in Indonesia and Hong Kong to work on local customization. With Malaysia being our Group HQ as well we in IT are well placed close to the pulse of our business.

My role as a CIO is mostly In terms of 'enabling' the business plans: I think that's a core CIO function traditionally. Looking ahead, in terms of CIOs shaping the business I think this is happening in some areas in Malaysia already, especially in Internet and Digital intensive industries. But the more traditional industries are normally less nimble and CIOs need to be "politically" savvy in order to excel.


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