Ten things we learnt at the Housing Data and Analytics Summit

On 1 October, 150 data specialists headed to Birmingham for our flagship event – the Housing Data and Analytics Summit! Despite some unpredictable, rainy weather, spirits were high as the attendees arrived at the striking Millennium Point for a full day of presentations, insights and discussions on the power of data.

The Housing Data and Analytics Summit is the biggest housing-specific data event in the UK. Opening the day, our Chief Executive, Laurice Ponting said “Today, we are bringing together some of the most influential data professionals from different industries including health, the media and retail to deliver best data practice, with transferable insights for the housing sector.”

So, what were the 10 key takeaways for the future of data in housing??

1. The importance of collaboration and the power of people - One hundred and fifty data professionals came together from different organisations but with shared challenges and goals. Finding the best ways to utilise the data collected, creating a data strategy which aligns with business objectives and staying on top of innovation and emerging technologies are all common challenges facing those working in data. As one delegate put it:

"We are not alone. It was great to hear from, and meet, people from other Housing Associations from across the country, to share experiences and to realise that we, besides our common goals, all experience the same fears, comforts and journey with data." - Business Intelligence Analyst, Prima Group

2. Storytelling is needed at all levels - As Christian Howes (Data Specialist and TV presenter) said “Knowledge is power; but that knowledge has to be shared at every tier of an organisation.” Sometimes the story the data presents may not be easy to accept, but it’s important for organisational leaders to be open to hearing the good and the bad so that insights can be realised, and progress achieved.

3. Data quality is fundamental but remains a big challenge – Data quality is foundation of better decision making, but the specialists there on the day agreed that the challenges of achieving this remain entrenched. Working with ‘dirty’ data results in added complexity and difficulty in finding what you’re looking for. Even though technology will always play a role, it is important that organisations have a clear data strategy that views data as an asset which will provide a return in improved performance as well as avoiding the costs of bad data.

4. Applying data science is key to making real differences for residents – Data science is about using data and analytics proactively in order to allow for better decision-making. Leading data science analytics experts Mango Solutions showed attendees that for an organisation to be successfully data driven, it needs to integrate data into its DNA and make it an integral part of the decision-making process.  

5. The importance of diversity shouldn’t be underestimated - In a session led by Women in Data co-founder Roisin McCarthy and Chair Payal Jain, we learnt that team diversity isn’t just a ‘nice to have’, it can improve business performance. As well as creating an inclusive, positive working environment, diverse teams have been found to outperform those who are not by 15%.  

6. You don’t need a big budget to get innovation off the ground. Lightning innovation pitches from the data start-ups helped delegates to see how to overcome challenges and create opportunities. With the tools available, many of them low cost or even free, ‘guerrilla teams’ can do things differently and get projects moving, without waiting for the sign off required for big spending.

7. Using data to understand your customers = improved customer satisfaction - As Christian Howes said, using data collected from the audience opens lots of doors, allowing for predictions and creating tailored content. Data gives you the ability to understand the context of your customer. If you can understand how they’re feeling and their behaviour better through what the data is showing, then you can use that information to align your business to your customers’ needs. 

HouseMark is currently undertaking the review of STAR methodology, which aims to develop a modern yet consistent framework for measuring customer satisfaction that allows like-for-like comparisons but also enables landlords to make use of the data to drive improvements. Find out more here.

8. Open data and data sharing can be invaluable – Open data portals such as OpenDataCamden.gov.uk are changing the ways teams can use and share data. These portals provide key sources of information as well as increased visibility for stakeholders. Additionally, by layering different data sources, a fuller picture is achieved. This data can be implemented in various formats, including visualisations and maps, providing vital evidence to ensure resources are used appropriately.

9. Be careful who you connect with! Delegates watched a live demo of how easy it is to hack a WiFi enabled kettle Joe Dalton (Associate Partner, Pen test Partners) highlighted that “connectivity has expanded but so has the risk” when she demonstrated how easy it is to hack devices through publicly available resources. Awareness of risks and taking appropriate steps to protect yourself not only in your workplace but also at home is incredibly important.

To find out more about cyber security and the housing sector, visit the Information Security page on our website.

10. There’s so much more potential to unlock from data. As technology continues to evolve and with innovation at the forefront of organisations’ agendas, the potential power of data grows too. It’s important for providers to stay up-to-date and learn from out-of-sector best practice. This is why we are pleased to share that there will be an even bigger and better Housing Data and Analytics Summit on 1 October 2020. Early Bird tickets are available now - to book your place click here.

If you’d like to know more about HouseMark and how we can help your organisation with data analysis and insight, please contact us at info@housemark.co.uk or call us on 024 7646 0500.

By Natalia Karska

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