By Jun Fujita, VP of Appirio Japan
Companies across practically every industry and region of the world are grappling with a similar challenge – how to reimagine their business using cloud, mobile and social technology. The real estate market in Japan is no exception to this – and one company in particular is showing others just how powerful these Nexus of Forces can be in helping them stay ahead of the competition and better service their constituents.
NEXT Co., Ltd. was established in 1997 with a mission to change the real estate industry and “create a society where everyone can attain comfort and happiness through continuing social innovations.” That corporate philosophy has served them well. Their HOME’S database (the company’s most recognizable brand) is one of the largest real estate and housing information sites in Japan with approximately 4.14 million property listings and are in process of expanding further into Asia.
NEXT’s focus on “ innovation” also guided them to create the company’s new HOME’S PRO community, a unique social communications platform for professionals in the property and rental business. The community, one of the first in Japan to be built on Salesforce’s Communities platform, was designed to help real estate professionals find and share information, collaborate amongst each other and collectively grow a market that has undergone many changes and challenges in recent years.
Seeing the need to get this unique and differentiating community to market quickly, and build on it over time, Appirio helped NEXT create NEXT PRO in less than three weeks. The community currently includes feeds and timelines to enable two-way communication and idea exchange among professionals, and a private and public groups feature that enables users to dig deep into certain topical areas and learn best practices. Working with Appirio, NEXT is currently adding property information, surveys, and other vital real estate information, and has plans to open this invitation-only community to a wider group of Real-estate industry in the future.
As a business, NEXT has seen significant impact from their investment. When the company announced the availability of the community, they saw an immediate 9% increase in stock price – no doubt because the market saw how this could strengthen the company’s offerings, improve customer service, and set NEXT apart from the competition.
By tapping into the Salesforce Community platform’s rich collaboration and security capabilities and Appirio’s expertise and pre-built community assets, NEXT was able to create a specialized, next-generation site for a fraction of the cost of traditional online portals. And because the community places user engagement and collaboration front and center, NEXT can spend fewer resources on community management and more time on providing additional information and features that add more value to the community.
“Our goal as HOME’s is to eliminate anxiety, dissatisfaction and inconvenience associated with the Japanese real-estate market, and providing people with a better way to share information and best practices could do just that,” said Takashi Inoue, President & CEO at NEXT Co. Ltd. “We chose Salesforce Communities as the technology platform to help us actualize our idea, and Appirio to bring our innovation to life in a fast, high quality way, impactful way.”