10 things the sector thinks about digitalisation

At over 500ft from the ground, last week’s view from the ‘office’ was like no other. From the BT Tower, an impressive 360 degree London landscape provided the perfect backdrop for a day of innovative thinking, collaboration, data exploration and out of sector expertise.

Unlike other events, this wasn’t to be a one-off, the day was the launch of an intensive programme that would deliver tangible action, ideas and solutions that help housing providers deliver meaningful, measurable digitalisation.

First, a bit of background; Delivered in partnership with BT, HouseMark’s Digital Transformation Programme brings together sector leaders and technical experts and provides inspiring environments, content, speakers and exercises in order to explore what digital means to your business, how you prioritise action, define where you want to be and develop and design strategies to make digitalisation a successful reality.

Sounds impressive! And the launch certainly lived up to expectations. We were inspired by the speakers, BT’s head of futures, Nicola Millard shared the way digital customers are redefining customer experience as well as entrepreneur Simon Devonshire, who spoke about the role of transformational leadership in change. The discussion developed, and we began to explore attitudes towards digitalisation. Here’s what we captured…

1. Let’s talk about an innovation mind-set! How we enable an innovation culture within the organisation, so we are better prepared to experiment and learn; utilising prototyping and adopting agile methods. 

2. There is an appetite to embrace digitalisation…nothing new here and many organisations have already started their journey, but it’s important to acknowledge that the housing sector is open-minded to the potential of digital and actively seeking solutions that add value to their businesses

3. How do we define the skills we need to embed a digital way of working? Do we have the skills now? Do we need to review our recruitment? Recognising that digitalisation isn’t only for the millennials, the group will now explore the changing roles, skills and responsibilities of their colleagues and teams. Keeping up! Digital strategies exist, many are working to implement them now, but how do you know when to review strategies?

4. Keeping up with the pace of change across the technology sector is one thing, knowing when to upgrade, change supplier, rethink an approach can be daunting. We know sharing stories in a safe space will accelerate learning, and leap frog any initiatives that didn’t quite work out.

5. Defining digital in your organisation is essential. Explaining to customers, colleagues and other stakeholders what you mean by digitalisation is important to manage expectations. Most often than not, it won’t be about gadgets and gizmos!

6. There is a fear that the sector may miss the ‘digital boat’ – comparing in sector has lots of wonderful benefits, but looking to outside organisations, the perception is that housing has been left behind. Exploring why we feel that way, whether that’s a reality and what we can, or should, do about it will certainly keep conversation flowing throughout the forthcoming sessions.

7. Don’t go it alone! Sharing ideas, learning from one another and engaging with suppliers and specialists will add capability and capacity to your business. Yes it needs your time and often your money, but the additional support, avoidance of pitfalls, fresh-eyes and expert knowledge will add value and ensure longer-term success.

8. How much is too much? Balancing the drive for digitalisation means you need to consider processes, people, performance and price. How you make decisions is something we will continue to tackle.

9. Culture is key. There’s an understanding that people need to make digitalisation work – and vice versa! Digital needs to also work for people. Internal attitudes and buy-in will impact your success…which is why leadership, leading by example and internal communications were also discussed – and will be the theme of our next visit!

10. Digitalisation delivers data! Knowing what to do with it, how to prioritise the data to add real value and how to use data to drive decision-making and change were all hot topics and worth building into the design and delivery of a strategy – not as an after-thought.

We’ll be continuing the conversation across the Programme and we look forward to sharing more with you. There is still time for you to get involved, shape the programme and have your say. Find out more by emailing tina.reid@housemark.co.uk

By Siobahan Kilby

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