Software-as-a-service (SaaS) could be a silver bullet for housing providers concerned about how to make digital transformation a reality. SaaS can pose a helpful solution by creating a leading IT service without the need for huge back-end modernisation or large IT budgets. For example, many housing providers are opting for chatbots as a way of delivering the modern communications that their residents want without needing to spend huge chunks of cash on an IT solution.
Why is SaaS so appealing?
SaaS is one of the ultimate ‘quick wins’; adopting SaaS usually takes just a few hours to implement, as opposed to developing, building and installing a bespoke system. This is very attractive because it helps improve perception and sentiment towards the organisation; you can be seen to be doing something constructive and immediately visible in a very short space of time.
Furthermore, the government has made it clear that housing providers need to empower their residents and embark on more interactive, two-way relationships. SaaS can help them achieve this by modernising the communications process, using AI chatbots as an example.
In the case of chatbots, like those Futr provides, we find that tenants respond incredibly well to being able to communicate with their housing provider around the clock and at the touch of a button. Everything from booking repairs to querying payments can be managed via SaaS, so only those enquiries needing human input are referred to call centres.
Younger tenants in particular are entirely comfortable with technology and generally prefer to communicate digitally rather than via traditional call centre-based conversations. Choosing a conversational SaaS solution that plugs into various platforms (WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram, web, SMS, etc) allows tenants to use the platform of their choice while the housing provider needs to only have a single back-end system to monitor and coordinate its omni-channel communications.
Removing budgetary concerns
SaaS solutions are generally a more cost-effective and financially-appealing option than the traditional alternatives. When using plug-ins, housing providers don’t need to hire or recruit a digital transformation expert or engineering team to manage an organisational change.
SaaS solutions can be implemented by most housing providers’ existing IT teams without creating a huge drain on their time (a typical set-up can be completed in hours). SaaS solutions are also usually very intuitive; they are consequently easy to manage internally and simple for tenants to use.
Return on investment
Perhaps the most important aspect for housing providers is the return on investment. SaaS solutions will offer a proven RoI which can be monitored and measured on an ongoing basis using built-in tools.
Modern SaaS solutions are usually available on flexible contracts and offer total transparency. Using personalised dashboards, a housing provider can immediately see what impact the solution is having, make changes to support a better RoI if needed, and demonstrate to the board the SaaS solution’s financial and reputational return.
For today’s housing providers, the right SaaS solutions are more than simply a ‘nice to have’. As governmental pressure increases and demands from tenants evolve, SaaS may represent the best way forwards for modern housing providers.
Andy Wilkins is the co-founder & CEO of Futr.