Cloud Adoption in the Social Housing Sector

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12th November 2018

The rate of cloud adoption in housing continues to accelerate

The rate of cloud adoption in housing continues to accelerate. The Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) notes a significant increase in cloud adoption amongst small and public sector organisations, with adoption rates now standing at 82% for both, up from 54% and 62%, respectively, in 2016.

Tasked to reduce operational costs while retaining customer service levels, housing IT Chiefs are aware that a well thought out digital strategy will yield results. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which places the onus on the organisation to hold an individual’s data securely and with their consent, will certainly have spurred some to adopt this route.

For most though, the benefits, such as cost savings, opportunities to streamline services and better protected data, have provided more than enough reasons to switch.  Clearly, where data can be hosted off-premise and the liability for updates and security transfer to the host, it makes infinite sense.  Given the levels of security that are part and parcel of cloud services and the fact that you can scale cloud services to meet your demand and budget levels, the proposition is even more attractive. 

 

The appeal of the hybrid cloud option

However, Registered Providers are not keen to move all systems across, which is why hybrid clouds (a mix of both public and private-based clouds) remain popular with housing providers. This is achieved by a cloud management platform connecting two or more clouds, which are separate entities.  By being bound together, the business can benefit from multiple deployment models.

The organisation can use the private cloud to process information securely and the public cloud for hosting publicly available data and share large amounts of resources. This way, organisations can enjoy faster data transfer whilst implementing increased privacy for the aspects needed.

There is also the added bonus of greater flexibility to migrate applications, resource and data between the public and private clouds, as the business evolves.

 

Moving to the cloud: A real-life deployment

Sovereign was asked to move one of its housing association clients, based in South East England, to a cloud solution.  The project’s impetus was three-fold, to support mobile working; to realise the association’s IT enablement strategy and provide a future proof solution. Post implementation, a number of benefits were achieved as a result. 

1. Mobile working for staff

The ability to work remotely, anytime, anywhere. Access to systems is possible, via browser access, which is a real benefit. Staff can increase time engaging with their customers and really improve services on their behalf. 

2. Time away from the office

It might sound like the last thing you would want, but staff have managed to get more time away from the office.  Cloud adoption means in-house server administrators do not need to carry out as many routine maintenance tasks that can easily be handled externally, they get to spend more time interacting with customers by enabling agile working. 

To them, this is motivational as it means getting the job done, rather than spending time doing routine chores.  It is helping to improve the customer journey as more time can be spent understanding and revising this.

3. Reduce workspace and IT costs

More staff working remotely means less office space is required and there is less need to provide workspace with devices.  Therefore, the IT department does not spend its time updating, maintaining or repairing this hardware, further reducing costs.

4. Business benefits

A cloud provider takes care of software updates, all training should be focused on the most up-to-date version which all staff have access to. This makes training more efficient and consistent.  It also gives staff a sense of confidence, that they are using the latest digital apps and tools.

This has led to better working relationships between the IT team and their colleagues, as well as staff and customers and it has reduced the limitations on data storage and mail capacity, making the business more efficient all-round. 

 

Plan your move to the cloud

In an increasingly risk-averse business environment, organisations cannot ignore the need to protect data.  Increasingly malicious cyber-attacks and new legislation governing the storage, collection and treatment of data, must be heeded.

Knowing how much you need to do versus your cloud provider, is an essential feature of using a cloud service.  So too, disaster recovery is often a given with a cloud provider.  It is standard practice for them to store multiple versions of your data across a vast infrastructure.  It gives your organisation the assurance that your data is safer than on-premise.

It is clear that more and more organisations in the housing sector will switch to using cloud services in order to reap the many and varied benefits that are available. 

Clarity at the outset is critical. You need to know what it is that your organisation wants to achieve. Engaging a provider that is fully committed to delivering upon these objectives, will go a long way to making the experience run smoothly and to plan.

 

At Sovereign, we recognise that implementing cloud solutions can be a big decision. It is important, at the start of the project, to invest time in planning to ensure a smooth and beneficial move. If you would like to speak to one of our consultants about cloud, please contact Simon Curran on 020 8216 3333 or email him at scurran@sovereign-plc.co.uk.