Back by popular demand… Following the success of last year’s inaugural survey, this year’s Data in Housing has seen an amazing doubling of the recipients taking part.
In 2022, we reported across four issues of Housing Technology on how leaders in housing data viewed the pressing issues facing our sector. As well as providing the subject matter for an enjoyable and enlightening panel discussion at Housing Technology’s fabulous Data Matters 2022 event last September at the British Museum (n.b. Data Matters 2023 is in the planning stages), last year’s survey gave a fascinating insight into how data is perceived in the sector and where the main challenges lay.
The introduction of the ‘golden thread’ as defined in the Building Safety Act has definitely put the spotlight back on to asset data (specifically stock condition data) and regulatory reporting data in general over the past 12 months.
Customers are talking to us about removing the manual steps from regulatory reporting processes and implementing increasingly stringent data validation checks, with several choosing to go back to first principles when it comes to building submissions.
The past 12 months have also seen a number of high-profile mergers and acquisitions in the sector, which bring with them a raft of data challenges. Consolidation, when done right, certainly delivers economies of scale but when done badly, it’s often tenants that bear the brunt.
Those aside, the trend of an increasing awareness of the value and importance of data has continued, as has the fantastic collaboration between housing providers, of which we’ve been delighted to play a small part.
Moving on to our 2023 data in housing survey, we added a few questions around the cultural aspects of data management, notably whether people are ready to make a step change in the way they control data and whether they have the tools and skills required to achieve it.
Let’s take a look at the first four questions and responses (subsequent questions and responses will be covered in later editions of Housing Technology throughout 2023).
Common data management challenges
This is probably the least surprising result and one of the easiest to understand. 100 per cent agree that the data issues across the sector are uniform (and as alluded to earlier, many of these are regulatory in nature).
What this does highlight is the need for suppliers to really understand those challenges and to come to the table with solutions that ease housing providers’ burdens.
Housing-specific solutions to housing-specific IT challenges
A broadly similar outcome to 2022 here, with 61 per cent agreement (64 per cent last year). While the housing sector can undoubtedly benefit from best practices seen in other sectors, there is still a consensus that the challenges faced in the sector are best addressed specifically, with housing-centric solutions.
Collaboration and sharing technology best practice
This is a personal favourite of mine. We’ve sadly seen a decrease in the number of respondents who feel there is good collaboration in the sector (45 per cent agree vs 50 per cent in 2022).
It’s easy and completely understandable, when the things directly in front of you feel all-consuming, to forget to lift your head up and see what else is going on around you.
A takeaway for me from this is, as an external supplier to the housing sector, what more can we do to get people connected and talking?
Significant IT transformation in future
New respondents have followed the second-timers in agreeing collectively that technology transformation is here to stay, though with slightly less certainty. Whether it’s transformation to simplify the technology landscape, meet new regulatory requirements or to bring together housing providers in a single entity, transformation is a constant theme of discussions with our clients both within and outside the housing sector.
The question for everyone is: how do we make those transformation programmes run seamlessly alongside ‘business as usual’ activities, and in an affordable way that prioritises the tenants’ experience?
In the next few editions of Housing Technology, we’ll be publishing further findings from our Data in Housing 2023 survey.
If you weren’t able to take part this year, ask yourself the questions and see where on the graphs you land, and if you’d like to participate in the 2024 survey or share your experience of working with data in the housing sector, please contact us at email@example.com.
David Bamford is the delivery director at IntoZetta.