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Get to know our CTO, Ben Swan

First of all, can you tell us a little about your role at Equiem as CTO?

Well, Equiem has always been a company that has understood that it's all about the people – the customer, the client, the user. I'm really honored to be part of such an amazing team that has achieved so much in such a short time. As we continue to grow at breakneck pace, my role as CTO is to ensure our approach towards software development is always outcome-focused: that our technology strategy is solving problems, alleviating pain points, and that our product is creating serious value for our market now and into the future.

How did you first come across Equiem? Tell us about your journey.

I first came across Equiem through my previous work at 120 Collins Street, Melbourne, where we had developed a range of web applications and tools to streamline emergency planning and response, engage stakeholders in facilities. Sounds quite boring, I know, but you can't imagine how important this stuff is! When I first saw the Equiem tenant engagement model I realised they had managed to create a product that could not only enable facilities management – it could also get people engaged and excited about the place they worked in everyday.

Let’s talk about technology - naturally. It’s moving at an incredible pace. Startups are popping up left and right and it seems like every major industry and niches within them is being disrupted every day. What are your thoughts on the tech climate - are we experiencing a golden age? What trends are you most excited about?

I think we are living in an extraordinary time. I've been working with communications technology since the early days of the web when I had my first startup in 1996; although, I don't think they were called startups then! I think the capability and capacity of smart devices – tablets, phones, wearable – offers us incredible opportunities to solve problems and minimise waste like never before.

‍Ben works closely with Senior Solutions Architect, David Meister and UX Lead, Amelia Schmidt

What products – apps, tools, hardware – can’t you live without?

My iPhone - I'm writing this on it now. I'm a content junkie, the Equiem Portal at Rialto (once you get desk delivery you can never go back), Facebook and Messenger, LinkedIn, Gmail, Google Apps, Google Maps, the new Apple news app, realestate.com.au, Wotif, Magic Seaweed, Prosurf, Weather and Pocket Weather, plus of course my light and powerful MacBook Air, and you can't beat Google Chrome.

Jobs, Elon Musk, Bezos – who’s your personal tech hero?

I'm a Gates and Jobs fan - call me old school, but these guys set the foundation with Apple and Microsoft.

Moving on to software development. Developing a product as complex as the Equiem Portal must be balancing act. How do you prioritise feature development?

Understanding our customers and user types - aligning clients and customers with our business outcomes. It's really about empathising with our users. Putting ourselves in their shoes. At the end of the day, people care more about their own problems than they care about a product. We're about giving them solutions.

You’re very much into lean methodology. What does being “lean” mean for Equiem?

The customer development approach and lean methodologies is about better understanding our customers and solving real world problems.

In three words, describe the characteristics of a great product.

Community, capability and capacity.

Equiem's Senior Product Team

Lastly, let’s talk about the future. Property management is at a crossroads. Managers are wanting to shift away from their archaic systems to more modern solutions. In Equiem’s case, there wasn’t anything like the platform when it started. Today, the Portal is a vital part of every tenant engagement strategy. What’s your take on the current state of property management technology?

My take is that it's about time! I've worked in property management for a long time, and I think that the move away from engineering based solutions to using technology to improve the customer experience is the only way forward. We've created opportunities for property managers and building owners to make better business decisions based on data, automate and improve their systems and processes, and genuinely engage with their tenants. Not having a platform that does all of this and plenty more simply means you're going to be left behind.

Where are we headed? What does the building of the future look like to you? How does Equiem fit in?

We are always looking at better ways to interface with the built environment, smarter buildings, smarter cities, better work-life integration and a strong focus on health and wellness. We're also all about space. How it functions, what the people using the space need, how it can be managed, optimised and of course, enjoyed.

Thanks Ben!

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