7 questions for... Jörn von der Lieth

Over the past few years, Hilfswerk-Siedlung GmbH (HWS) has taken significant steps to give due consideration to the challenges of a digital world of work. At the beginning of 2018, the entire real estate management was converted to the PROMOS.GT software, followed in 2019 by the introduction of a tenant and potential tenant app. In an interview, Jörn von der Lieth, Managing Director of HWS, discusses innovations, performance diversity and changing customer needs.

1. It’s been common knowledge for many years that nobody can get around digitisation. How digital is your company? Can you give us an example?

Jörn von der Lieth: We are certainly on the right path and – as far as digitisation is concerned – we also view ourselves as one of the pioneers in the industry. Our core processes, such as residential property inspections and handovers, are now performed completely digitally. We have also made major changes with regard to support processes over the past few months. Both personnel management and our fleet administration now run via a software solution. And since last year our apprentices have had a digital record book.

2. What do you think has changed today? Why do you need digital services for your business?

von der Lieth: It is important to understand that the digitisation of our company is an obligation, not an option. We can only achieve the next boost in efficiency if we outsource work steps, as is the case with our tenant app. Tenants enter the data themselves and, if necessary, create a ticket for defect reporting. Our mangers then receive everything they need with no media discontinuities or transfer effort. This greatly reduces the workload. At the same time, our customers also expect communication with us to run exactly as they are used to in everyday life with a smartphone.

3. Are these drivers that will make your company better prepared for the future? Are there any others?

von der Lieth: Digitisation is certainly one of them. However, if we are to be fit for the future and continue fulfilling our social mandate, we also need to adjust to other developments. An ageing society, sustainability in all areas of business and the developments of the housing market, specifically in Berlin, are other factors that need to be mentioned here.

4. How are new digital solutions created in your company? Do you have a specific recipe for success?

von der Lieth: First and foremost, to always remain active. We are present in many networks and are always looking at the big picture. What are the trends in other industries? Can we adapt this? Looking at things from the customer’s perspective is another way to gain valuable new impulses. And, of course, we mustn’t forget: flat hierarchies and excellent employees who bring their ideas and experiences to the company.

5. HWS has been focusing intensively on the future of living for many years. Which trends on the customer side will definitely play a role?

von der Lieth: For Berlin and other major cities in Germany, in particular, the main thing is how to deal with a shortage of housing and the issue of suitable rental prices. With regard to demand, the trend towards apartments for single people will certainly continue. The subject of easily accessible residences will also gain further momentum in the course of demographic development.

6. And which trend will change your company the most?

von der Lieth: We do not believe that the changes relate to a single trend that determines everything. Although you could, perhaps, argue that this is the trend towards flexibilisation. We constantly have to adapt to changing framework conditions.

7. To conclude: When was the last time you experienced a magical moment in which an innovative technology truly astounded you?

von der Lieth: Recently, I was shopping in a sports store. I hadn’t even placed my items in the space provided for self-checkout when the total price was already being displayed. And this information is then not just in the till, but also directly triggers a repeat order of the relevant goods in the warehouse. All this takes place in a matter of seconds, an enormous increase in efficiency.

IT&I: Thank you for the interview.


The series “7 questions for...”

is dedicated to digital innovations in the real estate industry. How well placed are companies? Which measures are they focusing on? Experts and industry insiders answer questions in brief interviews.

Part 1:

Jörn von der Lieth, Managing Director of Hilfswerk-Siedlung GmbH (HWS)

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