Residential real estate in the midst of a metamorphosis with the arrival of technology: Chief Executive Officer of Groupe Brigade


Mention real estate and the images that come to mind are mortar, bricks, steel, architectural blueprints and earthmoving machinery. Now add to that drones, machine learning and artificial intelligence. With a software solution that adds technology to the traditional business, property development company Brigade Group is an early adopter of technology in real estate, says its executive director Pavitra Shankar.

Deploying drones to monitor construction and AI for accurate land assessments, the Bengaluru-based company is behind many buildings dotting the rooftops of cities mostly in southern India, including Hyderabad and Chennai. He also implemented “Katalyze”, a digital transformation journey touching the company’s main value chains, including customer experience and project handovers, said Shankar, who is also the head of the residential activity of Brigade, at PTI.

As residential real estate undergoes a metamorphosis driven by the influx of technology, changing buyer profiles and preferences, Brigade’s technology touchpoints range from its SaaS (software as a service) solution to tactical suave digital marketing ideas that appeal to millennials and Gen Z.

Cloud service provider Amazon Web Services (AWS) has become an integral part of Brigade’s digitization journey and has accelerated the time to market and deployment of IT applications and services as business resumes in a post- pandemic, Shankar said.

Excerpts from the interview: Q: Can you briefly describe Brigade Group’s journey so far in the residential and other segments? A: Over the past 35 years, Brigade Group has developed over 75 million square feet of Class A properties across the residential, rental and hospitality sectors, maintaining a consistent EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) margin ) by about 26-28% over the last seven years.

We have constructed many iconic buildings to transform the skyline of South Indian cities including Bengaluru, Mysuru, Hyderabad, Chennai and Kochi as well as GIFT City, Gandhinagar.

We are currently seeing a steady growth curve in both sales and revenue across all portfolios. We currently have a healthy pipeline of approximately 18 million square feet, including approximately 17 million square feet in real estate and approximately one million square feet in commercial space with key projects in Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai.

Q: Has real estate demand started to show signs of recovery? What are the first indicators? A: The residential segment has seen very good demand in the post-pandemic period. What started as a demand for move-in ready products quickly spread to construction and new launches, showing that the mindset of buyers had changed. Despite recent increases in construction costs and unintended price hikes, we have seen continued robust sales growth, driven in particular by IT/ITES and services.

Overall, we see this momentum not only in Bengaluru but also in Chennai and Hyderabad. We expect this trend to continue in the coming quarters as well.

Our other verticals like retail and hospitality are also seeing consumption levels above pre-Covid figures, which is a very positive sign. Office leasing is yet to recover due to the difficulty in reversing the remote work trend and the weakening global economic outlook.

Q: Can you elaborate on the digital infrastructure and technology supporting Brigade Group operations? A: Brigade Group is an early adopter of technology in the real estate space and the first among South Indian developers to implement SAP (Enterprise Software) to power its business processes. Brigade has transformed SAP hosting by running SAP S/4 HANA (an enterprise resource planning or ERP suite) infrastructure on AWS which is a highly reliable, “always on” computing platform.

AWS became an integral part of Brigade’s digitization and transformation journey which was based on a “Cloud First” approach with many new applications built and hosted on AWS Cloud.

We have also invested heavily in network bandwidth and connectivity across all of our project sites and offices, which has improved productivity.

Q: How do you leverage technology and digital advancements to drive your operations and exploit market opportunities? A: Brigade has implemented SAP S/4 and C/4 (C/4 HANA is SAP’s customer experience system) to address core business and operational processes. We have also deployed a SaaS (Software as a Service) solution that uses drones for construction monitoring, which uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to overlay CAD (computer-aided design) drawings to perform precise progress measurements. We also use this technology in our land identification process.

Going forward, we will continue to leverage and understand data through analytics with a greater focus on automating processes to make the most of market opportunities.

Q: What are the key trends in consumer buying behavior and how are these changes shaping your digital strategy? A: The residential segment is undergoing a metamorphosis with an influx of technology, changing the profile and preferences of buyers.

Millennials and Generation Z use the internet extensively to research and narrow down their options long before they visit a site. The Channel Partner/Broker distribution network has also grown significantly, forcing us to constantly refine our digital marketing approach to achieve the best return on investment.

On the sales side, we have digitized the entire reservation and documentation journey, including the integration of online payment and the digital signing of key documents.

Customers also expect very high levels of service for which we have a comprehensive call center and ticketing software. We are making additional investments in the client portal to enable real-time access to manage their transaction.

Q: What are the major strategic/digital initiatives planned over the next two years? A: Our organization has implemented “Katalyze”, a digital transformation journey touching the main value chains of our company, such as customer experience, purchasing, new project launches and project handovers.

The initiatives selected for the first phase are aligned with the Group’s business strategy to automate processes and embrace business analytics to democratize decision-making using data at all levels of the organization and not just at the executive management.

Q: How have cloud technology and AWS enabled you to do better? What are the main business benefits you have derived from this association? A: Brigade was an early adopter of cloud technology and the introduction of AWS has made it even more reliable. AWS has helped accelerate the time to market and deployment of our IT applications and services. More importantly, it enabled near zero downtime of the SAP infrastructure, which is the backbone of the business.

Early in the pandemic, it was easy for us to shift all operations to remote mode through the adoption of cloud technology, with no dramatic impact on the employee or customer experience.

(This story was produced by PTI in conjunction with Amazon Web Services).

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


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