Housing associations have been providing homes to thousands of people for decades, but in a sector that’s not well known for its innovation or digital uptake, how can today’s most forward-thinking housing associations change the sector’s landscape to keep up with tenants’ digital expectations?
We recently hosted a Social Housing roundtable in collaboration with AWS where we invited some of the UK’s leading housing associations, to discuss how technology is changing the way tenants interact with social housing providers. Let’s take a look at some of the things we learnt…
Tenants of all ages are now expecting to engage with housing providers in the same way they would with their bank or a retailer. So how can housing associations make the tenant experience as seamless as possible?
Some housing associations are looking to IoT for the answer. Traditionally, maintenance teams take a reactive approach to repairs – responding to callouts once devices such as boilers and smoke alarms have already broken. This approach not only costs a lot of time and money but the wait tenants face in-between reporting the issue and getting the problem resolved could put vulnerable tenants at risk
A connected home, fitted with a variety of sensors collecting data on things such as humidity, temperature or CO2 levels, would reduce this level of risk. By running the data collected by the sensors through a machine learning model, the model will begin to predict when devices around the home may be faulty or about to break. The maintenance team will then be alerted of a potential problem meaning they will be able to take a preventative approach to detect and solve potential issues before they pose a health and safety risk for residents. In some instances, this could be life-saving.
Keep it centralised
It’s not uncommon for any business, let alone, social housing organisations, to have several systems collecting mounds of data that don’t talk to one another. These disparate systems create a problem for housing associations as accessing information can become difficult and time-consuming which in turn creates a slow and frustrating experience for tenants.
By using a cloud-based, central database and decommissioning several older systems, housing associations could save huge amounts of money while providing the tenant with a complete, seamless journey online. Partners such as AWS, make it simple to remap current Housing Management Systems into the cloud.
Stepping into the cloud enables an organisation to experiment with services at a fraction of the cost. The scalability and flexibility that AWS provides makes it easy to integrate with existing systems. The huge number of services provided by housing associations can be facilitated by bespoke, API-driven microservices that work for everyone who needs them.
A central database creates a single view of the tenant, allowing for the housing association to make more informed decisions on how to improve their experience, using technology is the enabler.
Culture is key
Moving to the cloud is as much as about culture as it is about cost. Digital transformation creates a huge shift in culture for the IT team. But it doesn’t start and end there, taking the whole business on this journey is what will make it successful.
The world has changed the way it consumes technology and your tenants and staff are no exception. Technology has an inescapable influence on our day to day activities and organisations who leverage new technologies to their advantage will reap the rewards.
A shift in culture is driven by a change in mindset. Getting the whole business on board this journey is the key to a successful digital strategy.
One technology that could change the landscape of Social Housing is chatbots. Could they be a quick win for housing associations? Find out in our blog.