Edward Bezerra: A Tech Reformist Revolutionizing the Housing Industry with Digital Innovations
Hovnanian Homes, founded in 1959 by Kevork S. Hovnanian, is headquartered in Matawan, New Jersey, and is one of the nation’s largest homebuilders with operations in Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia. The company’s homes are marketed and sold under the trade name K. Hovnanian Homes.
A Go-to Technologist Spearheading Digital Transformation
Edward Bezerra has been in IT for over 25 years, working for Fortune 500 companies and earning over 30 certifications. He joined K. Hovnanian as the VP of Infrastructure and Operations, responsible for I & O, enterprise architecture, and cybersecurity. K. Hovnanian and the whole IT department possess a vision of continuous improvement and deployment of cutting-edge technology. The company uses data-driven decision-making to promote business growth and deliver more homes to its customers even when facing global supply chain challenges. Technology is at the forefront of helping drive cost savings to the customers, enhancing design efficiency and quicker options selections while improving the end-user experience. Security, stability, savings, and satisfaction are part of the mission. The never-ending emergence of new technology and greater dependence on digital transformation creates extraordinary opportunities for companies. The demand for IT in organizations has meant that an IT vision can no longer be limited to operational processes. The company’s goal is to go further and provide greater collaboration to strategic initiatives that will produce the most incredible value to the organization and our customers. Edward contributes majorly to these initiatives and drives the tech front of the company.
Turning Real-World Pains into Virtual Purposes
Edward has taken each challenge as an opportunity to think out of the box for solutions. Before Y2K, he created and deployed a Disaster Recovery plan with no human intervention after the initial start. He claims to have treated every disaster, whether natural or manufactured, to advance the company’s technology and offerings. He believes that if a leader cares about their teams, they will design ways to keep them safe during critical situations. When Hurricane Sandy hit, Edward deployed thousands of virtual desktops so people could be safe and work remotely from anywhere, which allowed them to take care of their families. During the California fires, the same remote strategy allowed workers to pack their belongings and seek shelter and safety first. He understands that if leaders empathize with their teams and give them the tools and knowledge to succeed, they will surprise in unimaginable ways.
Edward likes to sit with groups, tries to do their work with them, and asks them questions about why certain things are the way they are and generally receives answers like “we’ve always done it that way” or “ I have no idea”. He claims that transformative leaders need to challenge processes and procedures and look to connect the dots quicker. Edward probes, “Why go from A to B to C if you can go from A to C?”
While talking about the growth of digitization, Edward says, “The most significant advancement in the adaptation of technology came not from a technical discovery, new application, or even an innovation, it came from a tiny virus that shut down the world and forced all of humanity to evolve and adapt.” With supply chains broken, ill-prepared companies were scrambling to obtain the necessary hardware and skillsets to modernize the infrastructures for this new world.
Bequeathing Data Infra Challenges with Strategic Goals
Edward mentions that most of the time, he faces challenges while managing data infrastructure. Some of the primal obstacles are as follows,
Data Security: Ensuring that all data is secure from internal and external unauthorized access, ensuring that the company’s cybersecurity team has implemented monitoring and controls, and all that information is encrypted, both at rest and in transit to perform regular audits.
Skilled Resources: Having the right resources means that leaders first need to know what goals they are trying to achieve, what roles will accomplish those goals, and evaluate the current staff to determine if they can step into those roles. Not having the skill sets may require additional onboarding headcount with those skills, training existing resources, or bringing in temporary consultants to augment your staff.
Data Quality and Analysis: Is the data being analyzed pertinent or out of date? Does the data contain duplicates or lousy information? Data management provides good data and is the foundation that helps drive business initiatives and decisions. It provides a clear, up-to-date picture of the organization, and helps reduce costs by enabling you to understand where expenses are flowing. It also helps meet any regulatory and compliance requirements by requiring processes and procedures to follow.
Multiple Data Sources: The sheer quantity of data can be overpowering. Things like data categorization, accuracy, duplicated data, processing, and data mining need to converge into manageable and palpable information that various divisions can consume.
Large Data Volumes and Cross-Integration: Large volumes are disparate systems, platforms, and technologies, making it difficult to consolidate into one data source. Planning needs to go into architecting a data store and then extracting the other data sources into the new system while ensuring the original data sources remain unaltered.
Retention Policies and Cost Containment: Companies may not understand retention policies for data, and over time, have more data than can be analyzed. It is essential to work with the legal and record retention departments to understand the rules about data retention. Companies can have decades-old data and maybe pay for more storage than needed, especially if the data is on old backup media. Besides, having a good retention policy provides direction and helps maintain costs.
Edward opines that everyone hears about managing data, but very few truly understand what it means. In reflecting on all the data that a company possesses from areas like sales and marketing, accounting, procurement, databases, and every single point that information flows, people slowly realize that the waters they are swimming in are the size of an ocean. Therefore, they need to navigate these waters carefully like a skilled captain riding the rough seas. He adds that too much data can become skewed and lead anybody in the wrong direction, and too little data can make the journey unclear, hazy, and full of doubt.
To overcome these pitfalls, executives need to ask the right questions and understand the goals and objectives they are trying to achieve, claims Edward. Firstly, they have to start by changing everyone’s mindset and dive into what problem is actually to be solved, whether it is growing sales, increasing their customer footprint, or improving the end-user experience. Each set of questions produces different amounts of data sets that they need to gather.
The Key to Being a Good Technical Pioneer
According to Edward, technical leaders are in their positions because they possess the knowledge and skillsets required to lead a successful team. They know what needs to get done and how to get there. They can look into the horizon, and envision and design the roadmap for a successful journey. But one attribute that they should possess is the ability to fight the urge to get things done before they are required.
He adds that they should survey the land, understand their landscape, and discuss why they do certain things even if the company knows that the current method is wrong. In addition, many skills are not inherently exclusive to the technical field, such as communication, listening and observing, cross-team collaboration, prioritization, and helping to bridge the technological gap by speaking non-techy.
‘Data’ as a Catalyst to Enterprise-wide Innovation
Edward has led various IT teams for more than 25 years and that has given him the advantage of being able to drive towards the desired end-state and the capability to connect all the dots and determine the effects and requirements of various departments and technologies. Things like migrating to the cloud require data gathering from more than 50 data points.
To improve the efficiency of any process within an organization, Edward remarks that companies must first start with gathering information and data. Areas to improve fall into specific buckets like productivity, communication, cost efficiency, risk, time management, and maintenance and upkeep (often referred to as BAU (Business As Usual) efforts).
Besides these, he highlights that leaders also need to understand the current state of the entire landscape before formulating a plan for where they are going. The need to know what servers, databases, and applications the company is using and the relationship and dependencies of each of them is crucial for leaders to know. They have to ensure and document factors like Return on Investment (ROI), Recovery Time Objective (RTO), Recovery Point Objective (RPO), Service-Level Agreements (SLAs), and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Only after a complete Application Impact Analysis (AIA) is done, then can you genuinely see the fabric of your technological landscape. Once leaders have all this information, they can form a strategy to streamline.
Leaders can document every step and evaluate with multiple teams as they progress, suggests Edward. They can also have the document placed in a collaboration area for quick reference and retrieval.
Good Stakeholder Relationship for the Betterment
Edward states that a stakeholder is any individual, group, or organization that has a vested interest in an organization and can either affect or be affected by the actions of the business. These stakeholders hold the keys to the kingdom and have the power to influence the attention, resources, and funding for any endeavor. They have something to gain or lose as a result of the actions taken. He continues that managing these relationships is vital to any success leaders hope to have and is one of the most critical soft skills a successful leader will need.
In managing these relationships, one needs to be able to speak in their language. They need to communicate in terms and terminology that they understand. He states certain examples like when speaking to finance stakeholders, leaders will have to use financial words like cost savings; when speaking with legal, they should talk in terms of compliance and regulations, and with board members, leaders may need to speak in terms of risk, growth, and security.
A Paradigm Shift in the Evolution of Tech
Edward looks forward to mentoring and cultivating the next rising superstars and empowering them with the knowledge that he has gained. Digital transformation does not simply mean to keep finding ways to go faster. Digital transformation defines using technology to make things better, quicker, safer, more redundant, and more robust. It could simply mean improving the quality of work and life. Each person, business, or group needs to resolve what it means to them.
The next wave has been slowly boiling under the covers, with select individuals being able to connect the dots to incorporate and utilize each advancement, such as AI, IoT, and data mining in a holistic and modular fashion, remarks Edward. He adds that one can deploy an improvement in one sector without impacting or reinventing the other sectors. Modularity is vital and the logical next step in the evolution of technology. The uncoupling of one environment from another, separating the front from the back, or removing dependencies will allow technology to develop fluidity.
Leaders should Stay Abreast of Developments
Edward advises emerging leaders to be aware of all events that can impact their goals. He highlights that events can be advances in technology, and they can also be shifts in geopolitical climates both domestically and in other regions. Edward further asks leaders to watch for trends in the space that can help or hinder the progress.
He concludes by saying that leaders have to realize that all their digital transformation planning is affected by eighteen factors that fall into five areas namely cultural resistance, operational efficiencies, financial investments, stewardships, and external forces.