This edition of Housing Technology is heavier on ‘data’ than normal, in part owing to our main feature article on data integration and straight-through processing as well as numerous contributed articles from data experts in our sector.
In much the same way that a philosophical construct or mathematical theorem is only as strong as its underlying premise, so too housing providers’ IT estates and business operations are only as good as their underlying data.
Data can be used as the evidential base to back up a new idea or strategy and then provide the strong foundations for its implementation. Data can be used to highlight trends or spot as-yet unnoticed patterns, turning qualitative feelings into quantitative measurements. Data can be used as the fuel that powers increased automation and better, faster and cheaper processes. Above all, data can do lots of things but only if it’s the right data in the right format and in the right place.
Today’s data management landscape is, arguably, a consequence of the original demarcation a decade or so ago between housing providers’ IT departments and their business users; to the roughest approximation, the former provided somewhere for the latter to put their data. The IT department was ‘merely’ one of many services consumed by business users, and this profoundly affected how data was added, managed, stored and interpreted.
IT departments are no longer ‘just a service’; they are the single most important enabler for every housing provider’s entire operations. That increase in strategic importance has been accompanied by IT departments’ greater ownership of and responsibility for data in all its myriad forms.
That bring us back to how much ‘Lodnon’ and other bad data are costing you. Keep in mind that every single downstream initiative (such as reducing arrears or increasing first-time fixes) or data-heavy process then requires extra human intervention and therefore cost that could so easily have been avoided.
What’s the solution? Everyone in your organisation’s should be made aware of the importance of good data; to paraphrase the government’s Second World War propaganda, “careless data costs money.”