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Cyprus’ Delfi Partners brings digital transformation to real estate

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Costas Zeniou is a partner and director at Delfi Partners & Company, a real estate asset management and advisory company

“Talented developers, senior developers have to be involved with more innovative things and stay on top of current technologies, because as a developer, if you’re doing the same thing for a few years, your career is going downwards, you cannot remain stable, or , you’re getting left behind.”

Our group of companies comprises real estate and financial experts with offices in Cyprus, Greece, UK, and and Italy. For the past four years or so, we’ve been focused quite intensively and have invested heavily in software platforms for the sector. Our aim is to disrupt and transform the real estate business in Cyprus and Greece – to modernise and digitalise it.

“We have an in-house development team, and we have built platforms which automate almost every aspect of the real estate business. This is in a sector that has remained very traditional in all of our markets – one still finds offices with fax machines. “So there are big challenges in terms of collecting data and achieving transparency, and we have created and are still working on solutions for this.

“We have an arm that is dedicated to selling real estate, and for this we’ve developed software tools in-house. The latest tool is for real estate auctions: This is a tool for the retail client. We also have a traditional listings website in www.delfiproperties. com.

“But we do much more: We provide turn-key asset management solutions from portfolio valuation, due diligence onboarding and real estate portfolio bulk sales. And we have built an entire suite of software solutions to increase our efficacy across the entire cycle, from real estate big data and analytics to portfolio valuation and asset management, and so on.

“Equally important is our platform for correlating all real estate and economic-related data, and actually visualising that data on a map. And we’re using AI solutions to develop valuation models for real estate automatically. This is very easy to do in the UK, where there is good data available, but there are major challenges in Greece and Cyprus where data availability and data quality is limited.”

Is finding capable developers who can achieve the results you seek difficult?

“It is definitely a challenge,” warns Zeniou. “Finding developers is the difficult part. Once we hire them, we find we can retain them. It’s recruiting them as they are quite rare. Junior developers are not so hard to find. So it’s one of the departments that is the most stable, but is the most difficult to grow.

“We would like to hire right now another four people, and we’re nowhere near that. We’re seeing everyone that we can, but it’s a combination of factors. “One is that the financial sector in Cyprus is a big collector of technology and talent. The financial sector is, one might say, aggressively accumulating all the software development talent on the island. Our work is adjacent to the financial sector. But we’re also trying to do some more data-driven or R&D related activities. And we struggle to find the people we need.”

This is obviously an issue that goes across the island, Zeniou points out. “There is a growing tech sector now competing with the financial services sector. And developers are quite demanding, in terms of what they’re looking for, in terms of the job satisfaction they want, it’s, it’s not just the financial aspect. They are also interested in doing challenging work, learning, and advancing their careers.

“Talented developers, senior developers have to be involved with more innovative things and stay on top of current technologies, because as a developer, if you’re doing the same thing for a few years, your career is going downwards, you cannot remain stable, or , you’re getting left behind.”

Most small businesses in Cyprus can’t possibly provide anything like that.

“What’s needed is an effort to provide competing incentives,” Zeniou says. “Look at what Russia is doing, where effectively any software development activity is pretty much tax deductible. You know, they’re doing everything they can to retain software talent and incentivise investment, particularly in R&D and software development.”

For Zeniou, it would be possible to promote Cyprus as a software development hub by holding events that brought in cutting edge projects and developers from abroad. He suggests also some interactive workshops that could address skills issues.

“But there is also an issue at the company level,” he adds. “Consider, one of my developers used to work for a somewhat larger company in another country. They had 180 developers, which is not really a large number by major corporate standards, but still good-sized. And within the various projects, there were always opportunities for developers to learn new skills, new programming languages, to advance their careers without leaving the company or the country.

“How many companies can offer this in Cyprus? There are not many.”

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