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MJH Group pioneers AI in its display homes

MJH Group pioneers AI in its display homes

Microsoft cognitive services transform house-buying

Home building firm MJH Group is pioneering the use of facial recognition and artificial intelligence to interpret the needs of potential buyers.

Microsoft computer vision and facial recognition APIs are being used by MJH Group to automate data collection about customers to its display homes – providing clarity about visitor numbers, peaks across the time of day, demographics and their sentiment.

This helps MJH understand the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, the popularity of its home designs and even the effect that day’s weather may have on customers visiting its display homes.

The technology has been installed initially at two MJH Group locations in NSW at its MOJO and McDonald Jones display homes in Kellyville.

According to MJH Group CIO, Brett Wilson, the organisation previously had insufficient data about visitor numbers and their reactions to different display homes.

While the use of cameras to monitor visitors to display homes is commonplace as a security measure, MJH has taken care also to inform customers visiting its Kellyville properties that it is also using facial recognition and AI technologies.

A 3D stereo vision sensor tracks footfall traffic, and a 4K network camera for face identification and emotion detection is placed at the entrance of display homes. Data from these are fed to the Microsoft Azure cloud via the Microsoft Face API, and stored using Azure SQL and Azure Blob Storage.

Wilson said that the technology provides insights as to the number of visitors, their age and gender, and “Whether they are happy or excited when entering the display compared to when they exit,” though he stresses that information is anonymised and viewed at an aggregate level.

“It gives our business a lot more demographic detail than we had before, which was just a number that said 20 customers came into the display home and we don’t know how many were really interested – maybe they left without leaving their contact details because the sales team were busy with another customer. “

Lee Hickin, National Technology Officer, Microsoft Australia said; “Artificial intelligence is being deployed across all sectors of the Australian economy and delivering crystal clear insights that were not available in the past.

“MJH Group can take these insights, link them with external data sources such as weather, and get a much deeper understanding of when customers are visiting display homes, whether they like one design more than another, and whether they stay away when it’s raining.

“That sort of insight allows MJH to make informed decisions about house designs, about its marketing campaigns and even when to roster on staff. That wasn’t possible in the past.”

Cloud-first transformation

The AI-infused display home platform is part of a broader digital transformation underway at MJH Group.

Taking a cloud-first approach has allowed Wilson and his team to step out from under the burden of managing infrastructure and engage deeply with the business to understand how improved data insights and access would be of benefit, which led to the facial recognition and AI solution developed for the display homes.

As part of the cloud-first transformation, MJH has deployed Dynamics 365 to handle customer relationship management. MJH is already using Dynamics to support salespeople following up leads, backed by marketing automation to nurture leads through the sales funnel.

It is also using Power BI’s analytics component to visualise MJH construction data, which is in turn driving exception-based reporting to encourage more informed decision making.

Besides Dynamics 365 MJH has rolled out Microsoft 365 across the MJH Group as a productivity, collaboration and communication platform.

To date about 50 per cent of MJH workloads have been transitioned to the cloud with more to follow says Wilson. It has been a phased migration to avoid any unforeseen hiccups and smooth the internal change management.