Housing Associations and Technology: Data strategy as Fuel for the Future
As a relatively new entrant to the housing sector, I consider myself very fortunate to be part of a business that’s worked in close partnership with housing associations for decades. Orchard has a unique view of the sector, and through years of close partnerships with executives, has become intimately familiar with the challenges faced by housing associations in achieving their objectives.
What stands out most is how many of the common challenges faced by housing associations tie back to a single need: the need for a strong central data strategy as fuel for the technology which will drive transformational change within businesses.
Improving Customer Engagement
Meaningful engagement with social housing tenants can make a profound difference to their lives. Digital self-service platforms offer a flexible and cost-effective channel for engagement, empowering tenants to interact with their housing provider on their terms, and also offer housing associations the chance to make significant savings in transactional costs.
Delivering effective customer service, whether via self-serve, telephone or in person, requires a robust centralised source of customer, property and account data. Ensuring a single point of truth for tenants and teams alike makes it possible to truly understand customer needs and make meaningful improvements to their experience.
Increasing Efficiency and Saving Costs
Streamlining operations whilst maintaining quality is a never-ending challenge. The key to making the right decisions around efficiency measures is, again, having the correct data and insights to work from, and making the right use of this data via technology.
Technology can help smooth out day to day operations and increase efficiency across departments, allowing internal teams to achieve more with less. The right Housing Management System can automate time-consuming processes and reduce the need for data entry, increasing accuracy and making the right data available to teams wherever they are.
Technology can also put data to use in innovative ways. Predictive modelling can flag risk factors before problems arise, for example, allowing teams to intervene before tenants go into arrears.
Consolidating systems and data to a single supplier allows housing associations to create the efficient, centralised data systems that provide the fuel for a huge range of business improvements.
While the potential payoff is huge, unlocking the benefits of data can be a challenge. Perhaps not surprisingly, large-scale data consolidation often only happens when it’s unavoidable, as a result of large-scale business changes such as mergers and acquisitions,
However, it’s becoming increasingly necessary for all housing associations to consider proactively taking steps to improve their data if they’re going to be equipped to deal with future challenges.
This article was originally printed in 24 Housing magazine
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