When we named this year’s annual Housing Technology event at the BT Tower, ‘Lifeblood 2018 – Data Management in Housing’, we had little idea quite how apposite the event’s title would be.
With outstanding presentations from BT, GreenSquare, Places for People, PowerObjects, Shal Housing, Torus and Vivid Housing to a packed audience at the BT Tower, the very clear take-away from the event wasn’t the usual “spreadsheets are bad” refrain, more a cast-iron imperative for housing providers of all sizes to recognise the absolutely fundamental importance of data to their operations.
BT talked about how it is investing heavily in democratising data and analytics by developing and distributing tools for insight-driven decision making by its staff as well as the option of ‘digital sandboxes’ for rapid experimentation and hypothesis testing.
GreenSquare covered how it is educating its end-user staff to understand why data is important to both their day-to-day jobs as well as the wider corporate objectives, plus illustrating the need to treat data properly from the outset (i.e. avoiding supposedly temporary spreadsheet ‘work-arounds’) with a quote from Einstein: “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”
Places for People used the analogy of a cake to show how it is embedding a consistent data culture, including data now being treated as a strategic group asset, with a corporate-wide understanding that the ‘cherry on the cake’ (analytics and insights) must have good layers (data management and governance) beneath it.
PowerObjects emphasised the need for data to be counted as a core business asset (and not just an IT headache) in order to drive the business, deliver innovation and provide insights (as long as it is treated with the care it deserves), with additional insights into how non-housing organisations as diverse as Ikea and Goldman Sachs are using their data assets and analytical capabilities to spot some startling and unsuspected business insights.
Torus focused on how data is their lifeblood, without which their IT systems and business operations couldn’t function, again underpinning the importance of embedding a ‘data culture’ and avoiding the dead-ends (i.e. spreadsheets) resulting from settling for temporary data fixes.
Vivid and Shal Housing contrasted the respective size of their organisations yet showed how their democratisation of data is enabling both of them to deliver cost-effective, omni-channel services and embrace their tenants’ changing demographics and shifting patterns of technology adoption.
So if you consider your business operations and IT estates as your organisations’ brains and hearts (or vice versa), then data is your lifeblood, without which you can’t function.