New ecosystems are changing competitive conditions and connecting both industries and businesses. Some companies are pushing their way into new sectors using existing platforms – others are creating their own. Several of Knowit’s customers, including BOB, are now developing platforms against this backdrop.

“We are now reorienting from a linear business model to a platform-driven model,” says Anders Daniel Brekke, Head of Innovation and Business Development at BOB, Norway's third-largest building society. “Our current model is under threat, in part from politicians threatening to abolish the right of first refusal, something that is currently one of our most important value propositions for the market. If we are to continue to be considered relevant in private markets following a probable legislative amendment, we need to develop new value propositions. Another very exciting development lies in the potential for data-driven property operation and management,” he says.

BOB has more than 75 years of experience in the construction, development and management of residential communities. It has nearly 70,000 members and manages close to 24,000 homes. BOB is also a major manager of commercial property and currently operates and manages around 900,000 m² of property.

“Our strategy is now based on three pillars: insight, differentiation and innovation. In order to be successful, we need to have the right business partners, relevant technology, an attractive brand and we need to build our innovation culture internally.

“We are organising our insight efforts to ensure both quantitative and qualitative insights through digital channels, call centres and across business areas. In addition, we are strengthening our skills within brand management, reorganising our customer interface and designing customer journeys across our business areas. We are also placing considerable emphasis on the fact that both our decisions and in particular our customer experiences must be founded on good supporting data,” says Brekke.

 

- How would you describe the technological approach?

“We are opting for cloud-based IT infrastructure and an open, flexible platform so that others can connect to the ecosystem we are building. With open APIs, the various services will also be able to act independently of each other. We are also considering microservices, i.e. where everything is not dependent on everything else, so that we can replace individual components without affecting the rest. For us, it is also important that we ourselves take ownership of the development processes.”

 

- You state from the outset that you have both technical and organisational debts. What specific actions have you implemented to build innovation culture?

“A while back, we collaborated with Knowit to organise five meetings with an expanded group management team at BOB. The aim was to establish innovation skills and prerequisites for the internal development of a culture of change and innovation.Now, for example, we have established a separate area – an ‘innovation cube’ – which we are actively using. This is where people working on innovation projects meet with colleagues and not least senior management. BOB also holds its own innovation week, in which all employees participate. This has become a truly exciting arena for the generation of new ideas and input. It’s where we talk about what innovation is, why and how we focus on it and also which resources are working on it full time. One useful approach we have also introduced is to measure the degree of innovation in all departments.

“We have also established invaluable contacts in connection with a number of study trips to skills centres around the world. These include trips to New York, Silicon Valley and Tel Aviv. A total of 12 employees and various members of the Board have been involved along the way, and we have met 16 proptech companies – from start-ups like skyline.ai to major businesses like Google. Israel has one of the world’s leading environments in the property technology field, and in Wadi-Valley (Tel Aviv) we visited

eight start-ups. We have also visited environments in Liverpool, London and Paris,” explains Brekke.

 

Have created a new Norwegian business cluster for technological innovation

“Based on these experiences, we have created a business cluster and established a proptech conference. We are bringing in companies from all over the world to share their experiences and knowledge. Proptech Innovation is a Norwegian cluster for technological innovation in the construction and real estate sector. Our goal is to influence changes in the way we buy, rent, sell, develop, build and manage residential and commercial property. The cluster will be an arena for interaction, innovation and the development of new products and services in the sector.

“Overall, this has led to concrete international business relationships. We are currently implementing a new AI solution, and we are trying out different ways of using sensors to supplement existing data sources in our buildings. We are developing the display tools of the future for homes under construction, as well as digital twins for end users with loads of exciting and innovative functions. We have also become a partner in Plug & Play’s (the world’s premier incubator) investment in property technology in both Europe and the United States.

“First and foremost, however, all of this has led to an internal change of attitude,” concludes Brekke. “We now share and cooperate in an entirely different way than before. This is particularly true in respect of new partners that we have no previous tradition of working alongside. A good example of this might be the development of a tangible visualisation product with a media company.”

 

- The merging of sectors and new value proposals mean that it is only natural to ask you what role BOB will play in the future. We can see the outlines of new ecosystems, but where are you today in this respect?

“We have set up a five-step model that will enable us to develop our own ecosystem, where we invite business partners to help create mutual network effects. First and foremost, we have defined our role and position, but we have also mapped user needs, trends and our own resources and preconditions. We have followed this by defining opportunities assessed against our own brand, our role in society and potential partners. After this, we have developed an ideas portfolio and ranked it against relevant parameters.

“In the third phase, we look at synergies between the private market, commercial real estate and management, enabling us to redefine the core of our business and develop new value proposals. Based on this, we have outlined an initial draft and description of an ecosystem. Furthermore, we are moving into the next phase in which we map our customer bases in order to assess the profitability of each individual idea. We prioritise these ideas on the basis of earnings, synergies and how they will help to build the BOB brand.

“In the fifth and final stage, we validate the situation in relation to current technological needs, outline objectives and assess the positioning options before creating a roadmap for implementation.

 

- When will you have reached your goal?

“We’re never going to finish. A platform-driven business model will be dependent on continuous development and refinement. New products and services will be tested, rejected and further developed. All based on what new demands our customers impose and the opportunities that new technology provides.

“In the short term, however, people will hopefully feel that being a customer of BOB gets a little smarter with every passing day, with new value proposals, new products and services. All based on insights into what customers really want.”

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