Blending innovation and technology into culture

Ali Sajwani has been responsible for combining technology, need for change, need to improve, in the organisation culture of DAMAC Properties.

16/02/2020 by Bizness Transform

Ali Sajwani has been responsible for combining technology, need for change, need to improve, in the organisation culture of DAMAC Properties.

As the General Manager of Operations, Ali Sajwani oversees several functions that are critical to the company’s growth and long-term strategy. From customer relationship management and digital transformation to developing the organisation’s management information systems. Ali Sajwani also oversees the hospitality division of DAMAC Properties, DAMAC Hotels and Resorts, and leads the design and development of international projects.

With people looking for wholesome and active communities to thrive in, the real estate sector is evolving into a service industry that focuses on creating experiences, rather than just houses. Technology is also playing a role in bringing more transparency to the industry, with the Dubai Land Department becoming the first government entity to adopt blockchain for all transactions.

The real estate sector is dependent on various external factors such as market conditions, supply and demand, and currency fluctuations, among others. Currently, one of the primary inhibitors for the sector is the unhealthy balance between supply and demand, which has led to softer market conditions.

However, the establishment of the Higher Committee for Real Estate by the country’s leadership is a significant step towards managing the oversupply and creating a longterm plan for the industry’s growth. As a leading real estate developer in the region, DAMAC Properties has focused its strategy on delivering projects that are in the pipeline, while curtailing new launches in the market.

INNOVATION CULTURE

DAMAC Properties is an intuitive organisation, on a constant search for new ways to do things, and its innovative approach to business is helping realise a technology transformation strategy.

As an innovative and agile organisation, DAMAC Properties is looking at new ways to improve processes on all fronts. Having optimised and humanised data sets, DAMAC Properties is looking for new ways to utilise these data sets using advanced analytics and AI.

Ali Sajwani leads a dedicated department that focuses on business planning and innovation. At DAMAC, there is encouragement for crossfunctional dependencies to ensure efficiency in a constantly evolving business environment.

Ali Sajwani emphasises that change is the driving force behind the transformation and has enabled the workforce by up-skilling them to stay aligned with emerging trends and technology. Ali Sajwani is also leading development of DAMAC’s Management Information Systems to streamline internal processes within the organisation.

At present, the industry is catching up to emerging technologies. As one of the principal change agents at DAMAC Properties, it is Ali Sajwani’s responsibility to ensure the organisation is at the forefront of the sector’s transformation by building on agility and driving innovation.

DAMAC Properties believes that people are at the centre of business transformation, and hires the best minds that demonstrate the ability to adapt and innovate.

BUSINESS TRANSFORMATION

Business transformation is an ongoing process that never stops. The digitisation of data has given DAMAC Properties a unique view of the customer and helped understand their needs better. Having this clarity helps all functions of the business.

However, what is most important is that, these initiatives have given an impetus to a long-term strategy of digital transformation. The positive outcome of its transformation initiatives has inspired team members to look for new and innovative ways to solve problems and get creative in their approach.

Traditionally, the real estate sector has been slow in adopting technology. However, that is changing, and with this transformation, come new challenges. One of the critical obstacles to transformation is to assess which area or function we should address first.

DAMAC Properties, has adopted a customer-first approach, which gave quick and effective results, inspiring others to follow suit. Another big challenge is moving from old systems to new ones as it requires teams to unlearn habits and learn new ways.

TECHNOLOGY STRATEGY

Spearheading the IT and data transformation initiative at DAMAC, Ali Sajwani is personally responsible for driving innovation to allow for deeper business insights and operating efficiencies. It is important to remember that technology is just a functional aspect of innovation and that real innovation is about people and their ability to think beyond mere possibilities.

In that respect, Ali Sajwani believes every single member of the DAMAC family is responsible for carrying forward the innovation culture within their respective domains.

Technology is and has always been a tool for businesses to enhance their performance, productivity, processes, systems and services. With technology evolving faster than ever before, it is becoming increasingly essential for companies to adapt and reinvent themselves with agility.

However, to effectively utilise the power of innovation, a business should focus on its vision and create a dynamic transformation strategy that is aligned to its short- and long-term goals. Technology is a great enabler, and if used efficiently, it can help businesses expand quickly and sustainably.

BUSINESS APPLICATIONS

DAMAC Properties has leveraged new technologies across multiple functions such as design, construction, health safety and environment, marketing, sales, and customer relationship management. A significant initiative taken up at DAMAC Properties is the migration of all customer data to Salesforce, an integrated CRM platform that enables all the departments to get a single and holistic view of the customers.

This digital optimisation of its data has helped to create Hello DAMAC, a one-stop customer service portal that allows investors, residents and tenants to access essential property services 24X7. DAMAC Properties is focusing on capturing the Voice of the Customer to help improve continuously and provide proactive services to our end users.

DAMAC Properties has also implemented productivity tools for lead management such as predictive diallers and a fully automated lead-to-agent workflow. DAMAC Properties is one of the few developers in the market to offer an online booking platform for agents that simplifies the generation of sales-related documentation. It is also exploring advanced visitor management systems that automatically informs residents about their visitors.

While DAMAC Properties has taken a customer-first approach in its digital transformation journey, it has also implemented solutions in other functions such as workersafety and construction. Earlier this year, it integrated virtual reality pods in the health and safety training of construction workers.

BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY HEADS

Business heads have a critical role to play in instilling a culture of innovation and change within their teams, and as a result, the entire organisation. Being deeply involved in building and executing business strategy, business heads are the most crucial change managers in an organisation’s transformation strategy.

While they may not always own the change, they can create an environment that promotes it by getting team members on board and getting buy-ins from various stakeholders. Business heads must understand the latest trends in their domain, apply relevant changes to their portfolio, and enable efficiencies by either consulting with the innovation team or promoting a culture of innovation within their departments.

Technology heads are the ones who own the digital transformation of an organisation. While business heads help in creating a culture of innovation and getting team members on board, technology heads drive change across the organisation through their transformation programmes.

They see beyond short-term business goals and think of the bigger picture when it comes to long-term technology transformation. This makes them trusted advisors for business heads on finding a match between emerging technologies and business strategy.

FUTURE DIRECTION

Business transformation is an ongoing process that never stops. So far, with its transformation initiatives, DAMAC Properties has been able to achieve what it has set out to and beyond. The digitisation of data has given them a unique view of the customer and helped understand their needs better. Having this clarity helps all functions of the business.

However, what is most important is that initiatives have given an impetus to a long-term strategy of digital transformation. The positive outcome of the transformation initiatives has inspired team members to look for new and innovative ways to solve problems and get creative in their approach.

Traditionally, the real estate sector has been slow in adopting technology. However, that is changing, and with this transformation, come new challenges. One of the critical obstacles to transformation is to assess which area or function to should address first.

DAMAC Properties, has adopted a customer-first approach, which gave quick and effective results, inspiring others to follow suit. Another big challenge is moving from old systems to new ones as it requires teams to unlearn habits and learn new ways.

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