Keeping an open mind as a technology supplier to social housing is critical. There are so many different business processes, supported by technology, that need to be carefully managed to deliver the best possible outcomes for housing staff and residents.
Understanding the nuances
Each housing provider has nuances that are reflected in their approaches to procurement, the resources at their disposal and the technologies they have chosen to complement their processes.
I’ve worked in our sector for some time across multiple technology providers, and one of the most important things I advise my team is to be conscious that each housing provider has its own individual ecosystem and infrastructure and that our solutions are there to complement and support that; we are secondary to the process. If we truly invest in the customers’ needs and their continued success, then we must make ourselves accessible in terms of both expertise and technology.
Removing walled gardens
Removing ‘walled gardens’ supports better outcomes for customers and is a key priority for me and our team at Aareon UK. We have over 130 customers and our flexibility to meet evolving requirements is imperative.
In the May edition of Housing Technology, IntoZetta’s annual ‘data in housing’ survey results showed a reduction in respondents who felt collaboration was good in our sector (from 50 per cent in 2022 to 45 per cent in 2023). Fewer than half feel collaboration is good and, in my experience, I would tend to agree. We can do much more as a sector to improve collaboration and as a technology supplier, we can encourage it. More recently, we have increased the volume of customer engagement both online through forums and offline by hosting events that enable our users to collaborate, learn from each other and share best practices.
The wider ecosystem
We understand the comprehensive capabilities of our own software and the value it brings to the sector but we aren’t so naive as to think that we’ve the solution for everything; no supplier should believe that.
Over the years, I’ve crossed paths with many technology providers of all sizes, and I’ve experienced both sides of the coin, being told that solutions wouldn’t be viable for the customer (even if they were a good fit for their requirements) because of a lack of technical capability, connectivity and restrictions from their existing suppliers.
Although the reasons that once existed for silo working are beginning to fade, the technology is available and capable to remove the barriers of the past and, as suppliers, we need to adopt an open approach to collaboration if it creates more value for housing providers and their residents.
From a technology perspective we’ve embraced connectivity, and to serve our customers better we recently acquired Locioa, now known as Aareon Connect.
Aareon Connect is a low-code automation and data platform that can empower housing providers to work with a unified data source across multiple third-party solutions. This means past barriers to effective integration have been reduced and projects can be expedited to serve better outcomes for customers.
How can connectivity drive more value?
With all this talk of connectivity and collaboration to serve better outcomes, what outcomes can we expect?
Detailed process data for increased value
Being able to connect your housing ecosystem means that you can benefit from more detailed information from specialist solutions that provide extra insights for your workers. But not every solution has all the answers or the expertise needed for the optimised management of a process; most housing providers need a mixture of technologies to support their key challenges.
This is the case with Soha Housing. We recently connected our Aareon QL asset management software with Sava’s intelligent energy solution to deliver energy and carbon insights so that Soha Housing could have a better understanding of how to achieve its energy-efficiency goals.
Connecting the expertise of people who use the technology together with the technology itself elevates the standards of housing management, and in turn the service customers deliver to residents. Facilitating collaboration and sharing the best practice between people in similar roles should be something that we all focus on.
We mentioned nuances earlier; every housing provider has conditions and resources which are unique to them, so embrace connectivity so that people can use the solutions that complement the skills they have and the work that they do. A solution that works well for one team may not for another, so connectivity empowers housing teams to make the choices that are right for them.
Lee Burke is the CRO of Aareon UK.