The Future of Housing: What’s your Strategy?
“The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed yet,” was the opening statement to my recent speaking slot at Housing Technology 2019.
This is a fantastical quote from the science fiction writer, William Gibson, which I used as a rather shameless attempt to draw in an audience, and to illustrate how some housing associations (HAs) are beginning to follow the lead from other industries to develop a cloud-first strategy and are starting to reap the benefits as a result.
Dramatic effect apart, I genuinely believe that this quote succinctly defines what is happening in the housing technology space today. There is an overall appreciation of a better way to deliver services, but also clear evidence of substantial obstacles that are thwarting good progress. Whilst some HAs are trailblazing through innovation, the reality is that there are still many organisations that aren’t exploiting the advantages of a cloud-first strategy and as a result, could be putting their future at risk.
So, what’s stopping HAs? In all honesty, I see a lot of stagnation in the industry. The significant factors include: an absence of clear commercial responsibility, broad under-investment in HAs and software vendors, and the obligation to procure using rigorous frameworks. As a result, it remains an industry where IT has not made the transition from cost centre to business enabler. However, from the many conversations I had across two days at Housing Technology 2019, I remain encouraged by a strong drive and willingness to think and act differently, this remains a land of great opportunity.
Modern-day customers, with their increasing digitally-savvy nature, are consuming services in new ways. In other industries, we are seeing thrusting insurgent companies who are winning the hearts and minds of the digital generation. They ignore all known wisdom, build with technology at the core, skirting or bending rules and are designed to scale – fast. The historic advantages of size are no longer true and in fact many of the attributes of past heroes, such as large workforces, trusted brands and physical assets are now hindering innovation cadence. This all contributes to a diverse marketplace, with past heroes facing shock failure and insurgent companies enjoying overnight success.
The absence of legacy creates a distinct advantage in today’s society. For HAs, the shackles of legacy will be difficult to release, but it’s vital that you begin to define a bold and measured strategy that will pave the way to future success, with customer experience front and centre in every decision that you make. Our experience tells us that superficial changes to existing delivery will simply not cut it.
Reimagine your business through a customer lens
What is clear is that the technology, practises and mindset that have got HAs here will not get them where they need to go. To make impactful change possible, HAs must take a long-term perspective, looking even further than a five-year plan. If HAs could reimagine their business through a customer lens, what should HAs do differently?
The fast-changing technology landscape presents great opportunity for those that are able to harness its benefits. We’re starting to see HAs implement agile business models aligned with a forward-thinking IT strategy. Cloud represents a long-term commitment to changing IT strategy to meet changing tenant expectations. It allows IT to be delivered in new ways which are both scalable and flexible, while also improving cost management and budget control.
Driving change requires an experienced hand, we help HAs cut through the complexity and navigate the pitfalls of cloud migration.
If you’re interested in learning about how Rackspace can help your housing association to de-mystify, accelerate and de-risk while future-proofing IT delivery, register your interest for a free advice session.