Home » Busi­ness Insights » Trans­for­ma­ti­on – with no ifs, ands or buts

22 June 2018

Trans­for­ma­ti­on – with no ifs, ands or buts

At Win­ca­sa, the task of actively dri­ving digi­tal trans­for­ma­ti­on starts at the top. Along with CEO Oli­ver Hof­mann, San­dro Princi­pe is hea­ding up the dedi­ca­ted «Trans­for­ma­ti­on» unit to usher in the pro­per­ty manage­ment of tomor­row.

A posi­ti­on devo­ted to «digi­tal trans­for­ma­ti­on» can in the inte­rim be found in near­ly every medi­um-sized orga­ni­sa­ti­on, most­ly as a mem­ber of manage­ment. Accord­ing to CEO Oli­ver Hof­mann, such an orga­ni­sa­ti­on would be the wrong approach for Win­ca­sa. San­dro Princi­pe, Head of Trans­for­ma­ti­on, ela­bo­ra­tes on a struc­tu­ral defi­cit that a mar­ket lea­der can­not afford. Fol­lo­wing is an inter­view regar­ding the move toward «Eldo­ra­do.»

San­dro Princi­pe, first of all, your tit­le is note­wor­thy: Head of Trans­for­ma­ti­on – and not Head of Digi­tal Trans­for­ma­ti­on. Is it sim­ply ano­t­her word­ing?

San­dro Princi­pe: No, not at all. It’s com­ple­te­ly inten­tio­nal! Trans­for­ma­ti­on inclu­des con­si­der­a­b­ly more aspects than merely digi­tal. In par­ti­cu­lar, the pro­ject is cul­tu­ral: We’re chan­ging the ent­i­re pro­cess orga­ni­sa­ti­on. We are aiming to espe­ci­al­ly «trans­form» the mind­set of our employees, in addi­ti­on to chan­ging pro­ces­ses and tools. Ulti­mate­ly, trans­for­ma­ti­on its­elf is not just the sole pur­po­se, but should empower us as orga­ni­sa­ti­on – com­pri­sing a vast array of experts – to deve­lop new busi­ness fields on an ongo­ing basis. And this is a bench­mark with which we can mea­su­re our­sel­ves.

Oli­ver Hof­mann: We are stri­ving to beco­me «digi­tal master» in our sec­tor by the year 2020. San­dro Principe’s realm of «trans­for­ma­ti­on» is also endo­wed accord­in­gly. Rough­ly 40 employees are ope­ra­ting in this field and rep­re­sen­ted at the manage­ment level too. We are the­re­fo­re sen­ding a clear signal that our objec­tive is bin­ding and we are doing ever­ything to achie­ve the goal.

Now what does the «digi­tal master» objec­tive mean in very spe­ci­fic terms?

Oli­ver Hof­mann: Spe­ci­fi­cal­ly, this means that as the lea­ding inte­gra­ted real estate ser­vices pro­vi­der in Switz­er­land we are also assuming a trail-bla­zing role in terms of direc­ting the focal point of our endea­vours at cli­ents: i.e. custo­mer friend­li­ness, ser­vices-ori­en­ted con­cept and men­ta­li­ty as well as touch­points – as is expec­ted today. We per­cei­ve our custo­mers as being pro­per­ty owners as well as ten­ants. Our own employees are also one of the key ele­ments for suc­cess, who pro­vi­de our ser­vices day-to-day. Essen­ti­al­ly it’s a sta­ke­hol­der approach.

San­dro Princi­pe: In a first step, we review­ed all our pro­jects as to whe­ther they are aimed at this objec­tive, and if not we shut them down, plain and simp­le. We focu­sed the resul­ting freed up resour­ces on the tasks that will bring us clo­ser to achie­ving our goal.

The realm of «trans­for­ma­ti­on» is chan­ging the ent­i­re pro­cess orga­ni­sa­ti­on.

Hasn’t the focal point been direc­ted at custo­mers to date?

Oli­ver Hof­mann: It was com­mon in the sec­tor 10 to 15 years ago that we recei­ved a fixed per­cen­ta­ge of net rent as remu­ne­ra­ti­on from pro­per­ty owners. Today, our sec­tor is for the first time pro­per­ly ope­ning the door for custo­mers and their needs. But we still har­bour catch-up poten­ti­al com­pa­red with other sec­tors.

San­dro Princi­pe: Here, I can cer­tain­ly app­ly ever­ything I’ve been able to achie­ve in my care­er to date. In fact, at my last two employ­ers, we had initi­al­ly inten­si­ve­ly tack­led and sub­se­quent­ly ana­ly­sed the issue of custo­mer needs too. The­re­af­ter, we addres­sed the­se needs and pre­sen­ted custo­mers with solu­ti­ons and ser­vices tailo­red to their requi­re­ments.

Oli­ver Hof­mann: In my past activi­ties in the realm of ban­king, I also worked in a sec­tor that has pro­gres­sed much fur­ther in this regard than we have advan­ced in the real estate ser­vices seg­ment at pre­sent. Cli­ent por­tals that are cur­r­ent­ly the sub­ject of dis­cus­sion in our sec­tor have been the stan­dard in ban­king alrea­dy for some time.

San­dro Princi­pe: Our shop­ping cent­re apps are a good examp­le of how we’re catching up with other sec­tors at the moment. End-custo­mers can learn from the app all the important infor­ma­ti­on regar­ding the respec­tive stores, site maps or ope­ning hours. In addi­ti­on, shop­pers moving around the cent­re also recei­ve time­ly up-to-date offers and spe­cial dis­counts via iBe­a­con (i.e. small Blue­tooth trans­mit­ter) – depen­ding on whe­re and when the shop­per is par­ti­cu­lar­ly loca­ted. This isn’t just a total­ly new user expe­ri­ence for end-con­su­mers, but also a gre­at ser­vice for our ten­ants. Moreo­ver, espe­ci­al­ly note­wor­thy for a pro­vi­der of our size is the fact that the con­cept can be bril­li­ant­ly deve­lo­ped in terms of mul­ti­pli­ci­ty and sca­la­bi­li­ty.

Oli­ver Hof­mann: We should not for­get the vir­tual­ly acces­si­ble ren­tal pro­per­ties. Tog­e­ther with Mat­ter­port – the lea­ding inno­va­tor in this seg­ment – we have achie­ved vir­tu­al acces­si­bi­li­ty for the Nike Store in Sihl­ci­ty as well as for nume­rous apart­ments. This tech­no­lo­gy will now syste­ma­ti­cal­ly flow into our dai­ly rou­ti­ne ope­ra­ti­ons step-by-step.

Is beco­m­ing a digi­tal master a simp­le mis­si­on?

San­dro Princi­pe: No, by no means! From a tech­no­lo­gi­cal per­spec­tive, natu­ral­ly some «low han­ging fruits» can be picked at first. In this regard, Win­ca­sa is like an Eldo­ra­do for me. But we will tread along the real­ly right path tog­e­ther with our employees. In this con­text, it’s not just about get­ting to know the new tools, but also acqui­ring the capa­bi­li­ties that are indis­pensable at the pre­sent time and in the future.

Oli­ver Hof­mann: Con­se­quent­ly, we began trai­ning all employees in the sub­ject of digi­tal skills alrea­dy in 2017, get­ting them in shape for the digi­tal trans­for­ma­ti­on. In this way, we are syste­ma­ti­cal­ly pre­pa­ring the ent­i­re orga­ni­sa­ti­on and brin­ging all par­ti­ci­pants clo­ser to rea­li­sing what our objec­tive means and kno­wing how they and our custo­mers will reap bene­fits as a result.

San­dro Princi­pe: “The Gol­den Cir­cle Model”. Why – how – what. Why are we doing it; how are we doing it and what are we doing.

Oli­ver Hof­mann: We are perhaps even ahead of the mar­ket in other are­as. Inde­ed, we are the first to offer ten­ants the opti­on of retai­ning secu­ri­ty depo­sits in the block chain. We are bla­zing new trails tog­e­ther with IT firm and inac­ta and Swiss Prime Site. The path is so new that it’s still unfo­re­see­ab­le if and how this very sta­te-of-the-art, effi­ci­ent and secu­re method will gain a foot­hold. But that’s also part of our focus as digi­tal master: dar­ing to ven­ture for­ward with inno­va­tions and lea­ding the way.

San­dro Princi­pe and Oli­ver Hof­mann are stri­ving to beco­me «digi­tal master» in their sec­tor by the year 2020.

Spot­ting, testing and adop­ti­on of digi­tal tech­no­lo­gies sounds simp­le.

San­dro Princi­pe: Yes, but it’s not.

Oli­ver Hof­mann: We the­re­fo­re approach the digi­tal tech­no­lo­gies issue with this con­se­quence in mind. We know that the future will bring fur­ther chan­ges, for which we not only aim to be pre­pa­red but also stri­ve to initia­te our­sel­ves to a lar­ge extent!

San­dro Princi­pe: Con­si­der just for once the infor­ma­ti­on at our dis­po­sal as mar­ket lea­der alrea­dy at the pre­sent time. We cur­r­ent­ly count rough­ly 200,000 ten­ants that we mana­ge, as well as around 235,000 ren­tal pro­per­ties ran­ging from sin­gle par­king lots to shop­ping cen­tres. Who knows more about asses­sing the Swiss mar­ket than us? And we aim to even fur­ther impro­ve our ana­ly­sis of the mar­ket in the future, exploi­t­ing the results for our custo­mers as well. We are stri­ving not just to beco­me a bet­ter com­pa­ny, but par­ti­cu­lar­ly to deve­lop new ser­vices and crea­te added value for our ten­ants and pro­per­ty owners too.

Why an app ins­tead of per­so­nal advi­so­ry ser­vices?

San­dro Princi­pe: Apps make a lot of sen­se in cer­tain aspects! In fact, the future indi­ca­tes that we will be able to pro­cess nume­rous aspects of custo­mer inter­ac­tion with intel­li­gent auto­ma­ti­on easi­ly and cost effi­ci­ent­ly, with advan­ta­ges for all invol­ved par­ties. Fur­ther­mo­re, we laun­ched our Custo­mer Value Cent­re at the end of 2017, a sta­te-of-the art custo­mer ser­vice cent­re that should be able to direct­ly mana­ge 70% of all enqui­ries by the end of 2018. In addi­ti­on to auto­ma­ting the lion’s sha­re of com­mon inter­ac­tions, new tools also pro­vi­de the basis and time for offe­ring the real­ly important advi­so­ry activi­ties and ser­vices at even hig­her level.

The cour­se has been set on the custo­mers’ front. How are you pro­ce­e­ding intern­al­ly?

Oli­ver Hof­mann: We are attemp­t­ing to sail on a new cour­se intern­al­ly as well. We have com­ple­te­ly tran­si­tio­ned to agi­le pro­ject manage­ment. In this form of orga­ni­sa­ti­on, the teams ope­ra­te in so-cal­led three-week sprints and are self-orga­nis­ed, which alle­via­tes the manage­ment which, in turn, plans and exe­cu­tes its pro­jects in three-year cycles.

San­dro Princi­pe: We ope­ra­te with various methods, inclu­ding brain-stor­ming rooms and kai­zen boards. We will also soon start to more inten­si­ve­ly com­mu­ni­ca­te our pro­jects and inno­va­tions. Edi­to­ri­al mee­tings with respon­si­ble par­ties from all busi­ness are­as will be held in the future, at which atten­de­es can report on their respec­tive pro­jects. This is an expres­si­on of the new cor­po­ra­te cul­tu­re as well. Fur­ther­mo­re, inter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­ti­ons alrea­dy at pre­sent are increa­singly shif­ting toward our soci­al intra­net intro­du­ced in autumn 2017 with digi­tal work­place – an inter­nal soci­al plat­form that fosters hori­zon­tal and ver­ti­cal cor­po­ra­te com­mu­ni­ca­ti­ons and wit­hin which employees can actively con­tri­bu­te.

Oli­ver Hof­mann: As a pas­sio­na­te ten­nis play­er, I know one thing: No one lasts very long on the court wit­hout desi­re. But the same is true wit­hout tech­ni­cal trai­ning and con­di­tio­ning too. We in manage­ment stri­ve to exem­pli­fy this pas­si­on for trans­for­ma­ti­on each and every day. Inde­ed, it’s the only way to suc­ce­ed. Inter­nal and exter­nal part­ners pro­vi­de tech­ni­cal trai­ning to our employees. Now, we merely need the con­di­ti­on and per­se­ver­an­ce in order to achie­ve our objec­tive tog­e­ther by 2020!