Our goal for this FY will be on process automation with RPA & Information Security: Gaurav Vij, Founder & CIO, HooLiv
The year 2020 has been back-breaking for the global business world due to this killer COVID-19 disease. In coming few years also, at least, we are not going to see shape-changing completely. It will take time for the organization to regain what they have lost. Recovering is going to be onerous for them. So, now it becomes very important for the businesses to set their agendas with a lot of extra care and intelligence. In such a scenario, digital transformation is not left as an alternate for the companies but now it is their necessity. After the setback, they have to manage everything with a limited budget. So, an organization need intelligent brains for setting up their digital transformation strategies. Here comes the responsibility of a CIO to act smart and put a set up in such a manner that it can save their company in even in an inconvenience state. Talking to the CIO of one of those smart working companies, HooLiv, CXO TV gets you insights on what sort of strategies are to be made and what kind of agenda is they should have to take their company out from the middle of the high tide. Gaurav Vij, who is a founder, other than three more people, and also the CIO of HooLiv describes their operation of business model, how technology drive this business, and what the best they are doing to counter the challenges in business disruption.
Incorporated in 2019, HooLiv is student’s coliving ventures and is involved with operating and managing student accommodations. Over the next 12-18 months, the company plans to expand its footprint by entering tier 2 and tier 3 markets. So, here technology is and will continue to play a pivotal role in their plans. For long, in real estate ventures, technology has been treated more as an enabler. The company believes with the right approach and technology will be playing the key role post COVID.
Have compartmentalized technology initiatives
“At HooLiv we have compartmentalized our technology initiatives into various domains. One is the student side of the story and digitises their interactions with HooLiv and among each other. The second is for our operations team to run the properties smoothly and efficiently and lastly for us as HooLiv team to get big picture idea of what is going on, apart from regular suspects like MIS and CRM, we are taking it a notch higher and incorporating a lot of AI/ML into our system to figure nuances of running a property, which till date was missing in a traditionally run student accommodation. For instance, which particular room or entity is consuming most electricity, where are the revenue leakages happening, which kind of meal are being preferred by our tenants, so on and so forth? We have platforms implemented for the Sales team, transformation team, business leaders, hostel wardens,” explains Gaurav.
Adding more on the technology side he says, “the platforms are built on the strong Nextgen technology stack, leveraging open source software like RPA, alfresco, OsTicket, D3, PaaS solutions on AWS, IBM Softlayer etc. Some of the examples of the solutions we have implemented are with the rate we anticipate to grow, we have enabled our business development team with the mobile-driven, property on boarding process, which enables them with the workflows and reports that help them to digitize. Similarly, for the Residents, there are mobile apps which the residents use for the entire day to day operations. The Area heads are enabled with advanced analytics to understand the pipeline and what has been the performance of the properties in their respected sector.”
Create a 360-degree growth-oriented ecosystem
The Company’s idea to embark on a digital journey was never going to be a hard sell but the longer-term benefits in doing so. HooLiv, not only provide a living space but create a 360-degree growth-oriented ecosystem for their residents. They strongly feel that the need of the hour is not to just run the operations but optimize and innovate every aspect of our operations.
They have interconnected sales to the Business development so that they can figure out what are they getting out of each property on the investment on Capex and Opex. Similarly, another innovation they are working on is to establish a collaborative platform for the residents. “Imagine, a student who is working on a Nextgen project, need help or want to form a team to join them on the journey. We are a funded start-up, still, we are trying to upkeep the process, establish the standards. We are using platforms like SumHR, Zoho Sprints for our projects and product developments, GitLabs for code management and CICD etc,” mentions the CIO.
Digital transformation is the necessity
As per Gaurav, a digital transformation is no longer an option but a necessity. The biggest hindrance enterprises face in getting started with this journey is cultural. It needs to be in the DNA of every organization that digital transformation holds the key to unlocking greater value for any enterprise. This is where the majority of enterprises shelve their digital transformation aspirations. Other than that, limited Budget is often a citied challenge. Information technology is primarily seen as a cost Centre and as an enabler. Here again, with the right mindset, enterprises can see that within a short span, they would not only be able to breakeven but start deriving benefits.
Looking to restart the discussion afresh
Discussing their journey during COVID-19 and the economic and business impact on the company Gaurav states that it has been a setback. “We had just raised our fundraising round in March and were raring to go when the pandemic struck. In a short period, we had already built up an inventory of ~600 beds and were looking to go live by 1st April. So, a significant impact on our functioning but thankfully, unlike some of our competitors, we did not have to spend anything on operating and managing the properties during the lockdown and looking to restart the discussion afresh, “he says.
“Handling the workforce during lockdown has been tough, to be honest. Just like it is with every other venture across the globe. Thankfully, we had a small team to manage and since we are aligned on the bigger picture and how to emerge unscathed from this pandemic, it did not take much of an effort to manage all the expectations. Having said that, we do have weekly calls, frequent interactions etc. just to keep everyone motivated on one same page,” explains Vij.
Diligence in technology has helped immensely
According to Gaurav, their diligence in technology has helped them immensely during the lockdown. From their internal operations to vendor management, they have been able to manage it effectively form the safety of their homes. Even going forward, their apps and other solutions would help them adhere to the physical distancing and other COVID norms and that could, in turn, be one of their USPs.
Looking to incorporate technology in every aspect
Speaking about their further agenda Gaurav states, “we are looking to incorporate technology in every aspect of our operations with an intent to streamline it and make it more efficient. Our goal for this FY would be on process automation with RPA, Information Security policy will be another key area of focus, and Students being the key consumer, a lot of focus will be to enable the students with features, enrichments beyond just stay.”