Tech Perspective @ the Edge: Aaron Pais, CIO, Morguard
Aaron Pais is CIO at Morguard, a fully integrated real estate company with an owned and managed portfolio of total assets valued at $21.7 billion. His diverse leadership experience includes leveraging technology to drive organizational growth, performance and profitability at some of North America's largest fully integrated residential and commercial real estate investment, development, construction and asset/portfolio management companies.
Tell us about your technology journey at Morguard.
I was brought in at the start of 2017 to manage the execution of an ERP implementation program; it was a strategically critical, highly visible initiative and the largest transformation ever undertaken at the company. It was successful and we were recognized by our industry at Realcomm 2018 with a Digie Award for Best Use of Automation, as one of the largest companies to ever achieve a cross-border, full suite Yardi implementation of commercial and multi-suite residential modules in the same environment.
The success of the program can be tied to: (a) a Strong Executive Sponsor that actively worked to remove roadblocks; (b) the Agile Program Office that kept multiple workstream teams and vendors focused on our goal via weekly dashboards and risk review meetings; (c) Effective governance, with clearly identified roles and responsibilities for all parties; (d) a Control structure with rigorous change control and approval gates that kept scope changes in check; (e) a Robust Change Management and Communications plan, which got everyone onboard right from the start and included a training program to ensure that employees could get the best out of the new system; (f) a Comprehensive readiness plan that ensured that the business was ready to adopt the new system prior to go-live; and (g) a post go-live Hypercare period where 'super users'’ were integrated into the support structure to ensure that the changes were thoroughly adopted by our staff.
I was subsequently asked to take on the CIO role at Morguard and I am currently more than halfway through a complete Service Delivery Transformation of the groups under my umbrella. This exercise began with the development of a Target Operating model and aligned organizational structure to ensure that we could deliver services both efficiently and effectively. With the Roles & Responsibilities defined, a transformation roadmap was then crafted to transition our employees into the new target structure. As part of this transformation, Operational Technology (OT) systems was also added to my portfolio. This includes property level technologies such as Base Building Networks, Building Automation Systems, Cameras, Access Control, Traffic Counters, Digital Meters and more.
Tell us a bit more about this process and your priorities for 2018.
Following the ERP implementation and the Service Delivery Transformation, our objective is to continue standardizing on platforms that optimize operations and customer experience. The drivers are to maximize cost effectiveness, enable quicker decision making, enhance our organizational agility and improve business outcomes.
We have initiated an Asset Inventory and categorization exercise. This exercise will be completed by our converged IT-OT team in partnership with volunteers from our Operations groups. The goals of this exercise are to identify opportunities to reduce operating costs and budgeted capital expenditures through vendor and solution consolidation, and the development of “fit for purpose” product mixes across our asset classes. The savings generated from this exercise will subsequently be re-invested to drive innovative solutions for the business and enhance customer experience.
How has technology affected how you spend your time and focus?
It’s the best time in history to be a CIO.
With digitalization affecting every industry, the role of the CIO is changing from a delivery executive to a business executive – from controlling costs and improving processes, to exploiting data and driving revenue.
An increasing amount of my time and focus is spent on identifying how Morguard can best achieve our desired outcomes. So now we are asking, what are the business capabilities, talent, technology platforms and ecosystems that will be required to get us there? These discussions culminate in a strategic roadmap that has buy-in from the executive team and is aligned to our business goals.
What are the technology trends you see affecting your business the most?
This is a unique time historically, because a number of disruptive technologies will have a significant impact on where and how we live, work and play.
The key trend that I see is Real Estate companies are going to make better and faster (including real-time) decisions. This is only feasible through investments in technology platforms, analytics and the right talent. These key pieces would dovetail with technologies such as in-memory computing (IMC), RPA, machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI), to help companies use data to improve deals and investments, mitigate risk, better understand customers and their needs, and open up new profitable possibilities.
Since we own or manage a number of the major asset classes, I can provide some examples of where this exploitation of data to drive revenue would be applicable:
(1) Office - A few years ago, a ‘smart’ connected building that was energy efficient and constructed using sustainable materials was seen as a unique project. Today, that same building is a necessity because tenants and their employees will settle for nothing less. Therefore, to stay competitive, you now need to have a building that is flexible enough to accommodate what’s next - and your data will help you understand the changing expectations of your customers so you can anticipate and meet their needs.
(2) Retail - We’re in the middle of a major evolution in retail. As a result of consumers’ changing needs and expectations, traditional retail centers must be transformed into destinations that provide more experiential offerings; so combine shopping with restaurants, entertainment and a wider range of services in new ways. Again, this is where you can leverage the technology platform, analytics and talent to understand these customer expectations and rapidly respond to them.
And this extends to the other asset types – Multi-Suite Residential, Hotels, Industrial and so on.
What advice would you offer other CIOs?
I believe that we are starting to reach a tipping point where you can stitch several disruptive technologies together and the usefulness of this integrated solution is starting to exceed the friction of using the individual components.
The advice that I would have is to become the leader to increase digital literacy for the business; be the influencer on how to leverage these technologies and marry this with the cultural change that the organization is trying to drive; to co-lead transformation to differentiate your business and help the business win.
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If you are an experienced speaker on the topic of technology, automation and innovation for the Corporate Real Estate or Facilities industry and have a story or case study to share, we want to hear from you!
We invite you to submit a proposal if you are a subject expert on one of these Topic Ideas or some other industry content. Submission deadline is Oct. 1, 2018.
UPCOMING REALCOMM WEBINARS
Controlling a Building from Your Phone – OCCUPANT EXPERIENCE Platforms Arrive - 2/28/2019
The initial focus in mobile technologies was on meeting room reservations; then came lighting, heating and cooling, then access control. Over the last 24 months it has become apparent that there are many more occupant experiences that can be delivered via mobile phone. Managing parking, reporting maintenance issues, ordering coffee, scheduling an exercise class, viewing security cameras, and other applications were quickly added to the list. With so many options and approaches available, what are the best strategies for occupant experience? Build versus buy, functionality selection, solution integration and ongoing support are just some of the topics to be addressed by the industries’ most respected professionals.
Chuck Niswonger has over 30 years of successful leadership experience in technology-related roles that range from operating his own consulting company (www.nicenets.com) to directing the IT strategy of a real estate investment management firm to manufacturing and technology-enabled education. Chuck has also been the chair of the Realcomm Investment Management (IM) Advisory Council for the last ten years, managing content selection for the conference educational sessions, IM forums, workshops and webinars.
Matthew Lennan has been integrating IT and building system technologies for more than 30 years. He has developed and implemented computing infrastructures for global financial firms, major healthcare facilities, manufacturing, entertainment complexes and traditional smart buildings. Most recently, Matthew has been working in software development to refine the customer experience for smart buildings in Office, Retail and Residential environments. He is currently responsible for driving Innovation across Oxford Properties’ portfolio.
Jared Summers is a motivated execution-oriented high performance individual who has extensive experience managing large-scale global programs. He brings a unique ability to understand and articulate complex technologies in a relatable way while rapidly fielding innovative capabilities. Currently Jared is the Data, Analytics & Technology Manager at ExxonMobil, delivering on the promise of transformational change enabled by digital technologies across the entire global real estate portfolio.
Joshua has over 15 years of successful leadership experience with early-stage disruptive companies. He has an extensive background in property technology, focusing on amenities that drive tenant experience across commercial real estate, multifamily residential and student housing. Josh has lead national sales and support teams with an emphasis on customer success, brand recognition, and occupant experience.
Elizabeth Dukes is the Co-Founder and CMO of iOFFICE, the leading workforce-centric IWMS software and the first 100% SaaS platform designed for the Digital Workplace. Dukes drives strategy for iOFFICE and advocates for the confluence of people and technology that unleashes the full potential of the workforce and the workplace.
As Head of Sales, Nick is responsible for leading the sales organization including domestic sales, product implementation and customer success. Nick’s 20+ years’ involvement with technology dates to the 90s when Peapod did its best to teach him UNIX. Nick’s IT responsibilities over his various positions have included End User Support, System/Platform Administration, Business Continuity Management and Project, Facilities, Procurement, Contracts & Maintenance. Most recently Nick served as Vice President at Environmental Systems Design (ESD).
Matt leads the product development and roadmap strategy for Modo Labs. With broad experience across mobile and audience engagement, along with a customer-centric mindset, he is the company’s product leader for both Workplace and Campus solutions. Matt and his development team continue to enhance the Modo no-code platform, empowering higher education and enterprise organizations to quickly create personalized applications and ensure students and employees have access to the information they need most.