"Community management apps in India will evolve with the community management business itself."
Ever since the pandemic struck, it made us all cooped up inside our homes. Hence, the requirement for gated communities’ apps emerged even stronger. The pandemic was a new predicament for everybody in recent history, as a result, neighborly disputes increased, maintenance collection slowed, and so many more complications came to light. This showed the limitations of Whatsapp groups as the official communication channel of a community. That’s when the community management apps came to the rescue. In conversation with Financial Express Online, San Banerjee, co-founder and CEO, ADDA talked about the growing gated community living and the impact of Covid. Excerpts:
How has the journey of ADDA been so far and what are the new changes to witness post-pandemic in the business?
ADDA grew as a necessary technology for the growing gated community living over the past decade. While in 2008, only two lakh units in gated communities were launched in India, this number stood at a cumulative 45 lakh 10 years thereafter. ADDA has also grown with the number of communities using online apps doubling each year. It now powers 4,00,000 gated community units, processing USD 1.5 billion association charges, 15 million maintenance requests, and 42 million visitor check-ins across five countries.
In our product journey, community management being an unorganized industry, it was hard to find standards and best practices to incorporate in the product so it became reliable for association management. What has made the product a standard in this segment are the best practices of society management found in Mumbai, India, and financial management best practices for associations in Dubai.
Your views on the evolution of society management platforms in India and why are they needful?
In India, society management platforms grew slowly between 2009 when ADDA started and 2012, with two to three players in the market. After this, there was a mushrooming of society management portals, most of them being local and catering to only one or a few cities. Around 2015, there was a heavy focus on visitor management with multiple companies starting their offerings in the same, later, expanding to other areas of the community management platform. This caused most of the local platforms to pivot completely to visitor management, or fold up.
Currently, this segment has very few local players and two to three pan-India ones. Of course, the current platforms provide rich functionality compared to the ones 10 years back. The average gated community in India today has 300 units as compared to 50 units a decade ago. And if we talk about large gated communities, they have as many as 20,000 units with multiple clubhouses and tens of towers. One can imagine the state-of-the-art infrastructure needed in place to run them.
In short, many gated communities are between star hotels and mini-cities. The management of such properties involves multiple aspects — Facility Management, Financial Management, Vendor Management, and above all, Communication Management to build a harmonious and connected community. It is hard to imagine managing all these aspects without community management ERP or interactive resident apps.
ADDA Mobile Application got new features to break the COVID Chain, kindly share a glimpse of it.
Ever since the pandemic struck, it made us all cooped up inside our homes. Hence, the requirement for gated communities’ apps emerged even stronger. The community managers were under a strong spotlight for managing the situation with frequent guidelines from the local municipality. The pandemic was a new predicament for everybody in recent history, as a result, neighborly disputes increased, maintenance collection slowed, and so many more complications came to light. This showed the limitations of Whatsapp groups as the official communication channel of a community. That’s when the community managements apps came to the rescue. ADDA saw an increase in demand for its communication forum.
Our first response to the COVID-19 situation was the launch of ‘Quarantine Tracker’ on the ADDA app, which kept the list of all the homes in the community under quarantine. This was voluntarily disclosed by each and every house. It was useful so that other neighbors could be aware and extend their help to these quarantined homes. Next, we provided the ‘In-House Parcel Management’ feature, where the delivery boys were not allowed to go up until the doorstep of every house. The parcels were collected at the main gate of the society. The entry of the parcel was made in the ADDA GateKeeper app. The residents were notified through the app to collect their parcels from the main gate or from their nearest entrance gate. Many communities found a hidden advantage in this process — enhanced security as 70 percent of their visitors were delivery agents who no longer needed to come inside the community now. Another major feature was the ‘VaX Tracker’ which shows how many people in your society are already vaccinated. This helped the associations to conduct vaccination camps in the community.
With the possible forthcoming 3rd COVID wave, how societies are preparing themselves to overcome this challenge?
Most communities have realized the value of local businesses that can deliver essentials to their societies and have created tie-ups. Almost every community has a ‘Covid Response Team’ now with at least one doctor either from the same community or the neighborhood. The associations have also stocked some common oxygen concentrators so that every house doesn’t have to keep its own emergency stocks. There is an increased exploration of automation for preventive maintenance equipment to counter the possible downtime of essential maintenance staff. There is also an increased appetite for Access Control IoT in order to reduce the dependency on security guards inside the community.
How is the app simplifying life in gated communities during such dystopia times, especially in terms of providing a variety of services at home?
ADDA app’s ‘Discover’ feature has been a boon to local home services that wish to hyper-target communities. The services listed on the ADDA app such as laundry, home deep cleaning, sanitization, Covid test at home, pest control, and more, have been heavily popular with the residents. The service providers have also been happy as they receive highly convertible inquiries with as high as 70 per cent conversion, thereby slashing their CAC.
What do you think is the future of society management apps in India?
Well, community management apps in India will evolve with the community management business itself. While the majority of the associations are self-managed today, but in the future, it is quite likely that most of the association management will be outsourced from association management companies, who manage everything, right from the finances, facility management, residents’ happiness, and compliances.
The society management apps will evolve in tandem as there will be a need for AI-driven automation and insights.