Tech Upkeep Under Pressure: Colliers’ Director Drives Innovation On A Budget

Prakash Mistry - Senior Director, Information & Technology (Asia), Colliers

The Challenge: The ever-changing pace of technology and increasing security and data breaches are pressing adversities that most IT teams face. Coupled with complex projects and rising industry demands, IT leader Prakash Mistry and his team at Colliers must ensure that systems stay current and secure, thus making their roles essential to the company's success.


Containers to Colliers: A tech adventure in real estate innovation

My career as an IT professional hasn’t seen a dull moment so far. Before joining Colliers, I worked in the shipping industry where I launched an online container tracking platform for major companies. I joined Colliers in 2001 to implement the global property database platform, CORE, across all offices in India. During my first decade at Colliers, I led infrastructure projects, set up a secured IT system, and migrated users to the Microsoft Office 365 cloud platform. I established an IT operation team to ensure uninterrupted service delivery. Over the last 12 years, I have designed industry-specific platforms to manage data over 2000 million Sq. Ft, delivering logical and auditable real estate solutions for clients across Asia.

Crafting value-oriented IT solutions is of the essence

Colliers (NASDAQ, TSX: CIGI) is not only a leading, diversified professional services and investment management company but also a global powerhouse with operations in 65 countries. Our team of 18,000 enterprising professionals works hand-in-hand to provide expert real estate and investment advice to our clients. To cater to the requests of our 15,000+ end-users across Asia, we have a team of 25+ IT staff who fluently speak various local Asian languages, and our users' satisfaction score is an impressive 4.76 out of 5.

Having said that, keeping up with rapidly changing technology, managing security threats, data breaches and technology adoption are some biggest challenges. Additionally, IT teams are often tasked with managing complex projects, and staying on top of industry trends, but with limited budgets & resources. It’s also crucial to ensure that their systems are up-to-date and running smoothly.

Challenge #1: Strengthening cybersecurity

At Colliers, we are revamping our infrastructure and software development practices to ward off cyber threats, encourage tech uptake, and boost productivity tool usage. Our Cybersecurity maturity assessment score has been soaring lately, thanks to our focus on implementing robust processes and systems that prevent and detect security events. These measures are aimed at reducing the likelihood of security incidents, and we are constantly working to further strengthen our defenses and fuel our growth.

Challenge #2: Meeting budget constraints

Dealing with budget constraints is tough, even in the best of times. Most IT budgets are expected to grow each year, but they remain limited. To overcome this challenge, I make the best use of existing technologies and scout for additional ways to increase productivity. For instance, I am leveraging existing Microsoft subscription suites and introducing Microsoft Power Platforms to build custom business apps and create automated workflows to streamline business processes.

Challenge #3: Staying ahead of the competition

Market data in the real estate industry is a foundational competitive advantage; however, when clients are presented with the same archaic 2D maps and tabular-based analysis from everyone else, it becomes difficult to stand out. To stay on top of industry trends, we have designed and delivered various interactive dashboards to the business in the last six months. These dashboards depict the big picture to micro level staff members and help clients understand the market better. All dashboards are designed and delivered using the Microsoft Power Apps platform, which is directly connected to various internal markets, clients, and finance data warehouses and data flows.

IT catapults business collaboration

At Colliers, we are focused on transforming our client-tracking process by adopting a modern CRM. This has accelerated business development, regional collaboration, and improved resiliency during staff turnover. Our aim is to accelerate client service delivery while building data-driven technologies that turn real estate data into powerful 3D data visualizations linked with 3D walkthroughs and floor plans, helping our clients make more informed decisions.

Empowering employees to adopt new technologies

I believe that the laptop should be your primary office, and everything you need to be productive is enabled through it. Generally, people are open to learning; however, new technologies adoption is always challenging for any organization. Therefore, in my view technology should always be more about empowerment than about control; for example, giving employees the information they need so they can make intelligent decisions for themselves. This is the kind of collaboration that motivates a culture of innovation.

My team and I are looking to organize riveting IT training programs that will help create a culture of innovation. We think it is important to encourage employees to embrace new technologies while developing an easy-to-use interface and ensuring that the technologies are user-friendly and intuitive. Our aim is to leverage analytics to gain insight into how technology is being used and to identify areas where additional investments and training can be made to further increase adoption.

Predicting 2023 for IT

In 2023, the future of IT is likely to be focused on enhancing digital experiences for users, and greater automation that allows teams to streamline their workflows and business processes to gather and analyze data in real-time. Despite our ongoing efforts, we will continue to foster a culture of innovation and embrace new technologies. Last but not least, our relentless emphasis on security and data protection is here to stay this year.

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