From: Helen Milner, Chief executive, UK Online Centres
Sir – It’s inevitable; digital by default is coming for all of us. Universal credit is getting closer so it should be a priority for all housing providers to get their tenants online so that they can make benefit claims and manage their finances.
As an organisation, you will have to be digital within the next few years. It’s not something you can avoid, no matter how much you might want to. The question isn’t if you’re going to go digital, it’s how you’re going to go digital.
My advice would be that it’s best to be proactive; to make sure you are in charge of a strategy rather than just letting it evolve. I would encourage you to take charge now, and start putting some thought and action into your digital strategy.
Think about the 50 per cent (or more) of your tenants who are already online. You will have to become a digital business because they’ll demand it, so do some thinking about the online services that they’ll need and how you’ll deliver them.
Next, think about your tenants who aren’t online, and how you can support them to use these services too. Universal credit is a great excuse to do more with tenants as there will be a huge push to help people gain the skills and confidence they need to use these new services – seize this opportunity.
Now is the time to be bold. Digital can’t be ignored, and you can’t be scared of it. The housing providers who will get the most out of the shift to digital will be those who embrace it, not only as a way of delivering better and more efficient services to their tenants, but also as a way of helping them to improve their lives by taking advantage of all of the benefits being online can provide.
The digital future is coming – make sure you’re prepared.