Simon Casey has a very different experience with his colleagues on two major trends impacting the ICT department -- bring your own device and the growing need to work with the marketing team.
"The 'bring your own device' story has not been difficult for our business," says the Barfoot & Thompson CIO. "We had BYOD even before the term existed."
Casey, who joined the real estate group more than four years ago, says the company has always run a traditional network in each branch so that the salespeople could bring their own device and connect to that.
"Our approach for internet access means the salespeople can work from home or work from work. We did not have too many challenges around that when we looked at network architecture changes. It is just in bred in us to consider that.""
On the clarion call of analysts for CIOs to partner more closely with the chief marketing officer, Casey says he has been doing that from day one. When the company moved in October last year to the new headquarters on Auckland's Shortland Street, Casey "insisted" the two departments should be located on the same floor. "
This way, they can continuously and simultaneously work on a raft of projects around mobile devices, social media and the company website.
Casey explains that while residential sales are the dominant part of the business, Barfoot & Thompson is also into property management, with around 10,000 properties under management. "There are plenty of business aspects to understand and contribute to from an IT perspective."
One of the major projects the two departments have worked on was building a sales kit that the salespeople can use to quickly prepare a professional proposal. "When they are visiting someone who is considering selling the house, they can impress them with being well organised, and presenting a thorough and comprehensive sales plan.
He says this project was driven by the marketing team which wanted certain standards and templates the sales people can put together.
Two years ago, he says he had a discussion with the marketing manager to build an online strategy for social media channels.
First, they encouraged the salespeople to update their profiles on the website, and create a profile on LinkedIn and the industry website www.realestate.co.nz.
"We thought that was the first step of the ladder for social media," he says. They then conducted training for the salespeople on how to set up a Facebook page. "You can imagine with 1300 sales people the level of interest or motivation around that varies greatly," he says. He says it is important that marketing team "owns the brand activity" around social media at Barfoot & Thompson.
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