As we start a new year as well as the fourth year of publishing Housing Technology, we are going to stick our necks out and predict some macro-trends in housing that we believe housing providers will see over the next 2-3 years.
- Less political support: The election of the Coalition government will mark the start of housing providers and their tenants receiving less political support. While government funding for housing and housing services is already being scaled back, programmes to reduce the duration of tenancy contracts (for example) will be the beginning of housing providers and their tenants having their insulation from private-sector market forces reduced, either through regulation or commercial imperatives.
- Integration and straight-through processing: Perhaps not a new trend, but one of growing importance. The days of housing providers having many disparate systems, often from different IT suppliers, are far from over but the seamless transfer of data and information between systems (straight-through processing) and the near- eradication of manual processes will become critical (e.g. see the performance management story on page 8)
- Disintermediation: As has already happened in most areas of business, notably financial services and package holidays, housing providers and local authorities will find their services being ‘unbundled’ through disintermediation, with tenants able to choose which services they really want to pay for (or deliver in the case of housing providers), and from whom they want to purchase those services.
- Shared services: We covered shared services in the last issue of Housing Technology, but we believe we will see more and more housing providers either buying in services from other providers, such as call- centre services, or selling their IT services to other providers, such as Gentoo Group which, as gamekeeper-turned-poacher, is now selling IT systems to other housing providers.
- Digital inclusion: Given the growing prevalence of web- and email- based tenant communication channels, housing providers are likely to find that increasing digital inclusion among their tenants is not just a good thing to do, but also serves their business aims as it allows more tenants to use communication channels that are cheaper to support.