From: Matthew Gardiner, Chief executive, Trafford Housing Trust
Sir – Technology is always on the move. I remember running the IT function for a CEO who made it a badge of honour to leave untouched the PC we had given him. Another 20 years on and I don’t know of a self-respecting CEO who doesn’t use IT as a fundamental part of the job and most of us love the latest bling gadget to help us do it even better.
Our tenants have embraced this technology revolution too and find new ways of talking to us. Faster services, of a better quality are what they are asking for. And through social media, we are increasingly expected to turn one-to-one dialogues into community-wide conversations.
But there’s a neglected area. When I was taught housing management, the saying was that the tenant will talk to you too much and the home they live in won’t talk at all, so you have to use your eyes whenever you visit. Our properties are still pretty dumb today, but maybe they are about to get the power of speech.
I don’t begin to understand how they work, but now you can get sensors to measure just about anything and they can wirelessly transmit the data they capture to you as well. Leaks can be detected long before they can be seen, movement measured long before structural integrity is compromised, and blockages detected before your nose tells you there’s a problem. They can even detect ‘unusual forces’ (i.e. tenant damage!) on door hinges or drawer runners.
My point? Our customers are getting smarter all the time. Unless our technology keeps up with our customers, our organisations will end up, like our houses now, dumb. And that doesn’t feel like a good place to be.