24th April 2017
With a focus on the social housing market, presented at the Housing Technology Conference 2017
March this year saw the consultancy team attending Housing Technology’s annual conference which is the leading event for senior IT influencers and decision-makers in the UK social housing sector. This year the conference focused upon:
- IT strategies for business transformation, value for money and operational efficiencies
- Core line of business applications
- Emerging technologies such as internet of things, big data, social media, GIS and connected homes
- Omni-channel communications with tenants, contractors and suppliers
- Universal credit, rent reductions, and other financial/regulatory areas
- Mobile working and dynamic scheduling
- IT infrastructure such as software licensing, cloud, SaaS and security
As well as being a long term sponsor of Housing Technology and exhibiting this year, our Non-Executive Director, Keith Woolley and I delivered a presentation entitled ‘Business Transformation – Successfully Delivering During Change’.
Understanding the position of the social housing market
Recognising the current themes and pressures being faced today by the sector is crucial for any market. Specifically, for the social housing market, we need to understand things such as Government imposed rent cuts, efficiency and value for money, mergers and change to regulation. Once you recognise this, you can then go on to develop a business transformation strategy and plan, but any organisation must recognise the need for technology as well as the requirement for the right resources, direction, leadership, investment and governance to successfully deliver the required benefits.
As IT consultants we work with lots of different housing organisations and get a highly privileged behind the scenes and under the bonnet view of how things are going. At the moment I’m seeing a really mixed bag of the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’. Some organisations (and not just the large ones!) seem to have really big budgets and are investing heavily in new technology, whereas others are really struggling and simply don’t have the money available to invest to make the improvements they badly need.
This experience enables me to share information about the effect of Government policy, radical income cuts, the regulation regime, demonstrating viability and efficiency and the increased pressure to merge is having on the sector and how IT can help deliver more for less. Some organisations are making very difficult and challenging decisions about the level of service they can offer and are even asking themselves if there is a legal or moral requirement to provide a particular service and if not should they continue offering it?
Business Transformation - how can technology help?
Of course the right investment in technology will provide the foundations of a digital service offering to support greater efficiency through automation, self-service and an agile workforce. But there is so much more to consider even if you have the money to spend in the first place.
As the interim CIO for a large housing association undergoing a so-called mega-merger as well as a programme of major business transformation, Keith was ideally placed to share his experience and knowledge about how to deliver change successfully in difficult times. He was able to bring his real world experience to bear of successfully leading and overseeing the necessary changes required to ensure technology would support the new organisation well into the future and that the IT resources were fit for purpose and properly skilled.
Keith recommended looking at business transformation through an ‘IT lens’ and explained that he has seen many transformation programmes which lack strategy or a clear link to business objectives, have poor quality data and legacy line of business systems which a lack integration and a historically low investment in IT. For transformation to achieve its end goals, IT should be seen as a critical enabler with integrated systems built for a secure agile workforce together underpinned by appropriate investment and a long term strategy. Without this approach, organisations will struggle to achieve the objectives they set out to.
The take away message from our presentation?
There is much more that can be discussed and much more detail to cover, but if there is one thing we recommended delegates to take away from our session? The importance of communication and managing expectations!