Why digitisation is critical to the housing sector
The need for digital services has never been stronger. According to recent research, over a fifth of us will always opt for a digital service, if offered, and online banking and online shopping reign supreme as the most used and valued digital services every day (both at around 67%).
Despite this uptake, there are still obstacles when it comes to digital services, as successfully embracing the digital revolution requires a sea-change in attitude and a clear strategy, if it is to succeed. Housing providers face a number of potential challenges, with the entry barriers into new markets less prohibitive to new players who may be far more agile and entrepreneurial at bringing improved services, such as assisted living, to realisation.
The entire housing sector faces considerable disruption, but embracing digital opportunities is the only option, if providers are to transform their approach and remain “competitive” in a market which is certain to undergo significant change. There are three aspects that housing providers must focus on:
Digitisation of the business
IT teams will drive major change: IT outsourcing, exploiting the Cloud and the Internet of Things (IoT) offer new opportunities, such as the management of physical assets, Utility companies have already started to embrace IoT through sensor technologies to monitor their assets and proactively arrange maintenance visits, as required.
Transforming the service user experience
The goal is to transforming the service user experience for both tenants and employees, by providing access to new channels, such as Live Chat, instant messaging and social, by operating an omnichannel strategy that lets users interact in a way they feel most comfortable with. For tenants, this means putting digital inclusion at the heart of the communications strategy. For employees, this means providing simple to use and access tools and services that help them be effective – irrespective of their location, time zone or device.
Reinventing the business model
Housing providers need to reinvent their models and think about how they can deliver innovation – before someone else does. While housing providers still need to “act social”, they must start to “think and behave commercial”, driving change through ideas that help them to be “disruptive”. Far from being a buzzword, there are more ways than ever for housing providers to interact and engage in an innovative way. With the increasing pace of change that exists in the sector, providers need to think on their feet and act fast.
The scale of change approaching – and the disruption it may bring as it is implemented – means that there may not be another chance this decade. Amidst the politicking, uncertainty and cuts, and the housing sector adjusts to whatever becomes the “new normal”, the next twelve months need also to be remembered as a time of innovation for UK housing.
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