At the moment, housing providers and all other public bodies are on the cusp of a new era for the public and third sectors. This is being shaped by the government’s political agenda of continuing with its cuts to balance the books. For housing providers, the changes in welfare reform are directly affecting their business plans and this is challenging the sector to drive efficiencies while maintaining and improving standards.
So how can they do this? David Orr, the chief executive of the National Housing Federation, in his recent speech at the NHF’s annual conference, said that to overcome these organisational challenges, “we will seek to unlock the ingenuity of the sector”. When speaking to those involved in social housing, this is precisely what many now seem to be doing. They are looking for new ideas and ways of doing things, and for many of them technology is central to this. One relatively new technology is predictive analytics and it will help with this search for ingenuity.
Historical data still forms the basis for the majority of organisations’ decision-making and planning. Of course, making decisions on factual information is a good thing, but, and there is a big ‘but’ here, analysing past performance alone can be misleading at times because it is only ever a snapshot in time. And often when organisations do try to predict the future, they simply extrapolate their figures. This can be highly misleading and is very different to predictive analytics.
Predictive analytical software applications have complex algorithms at their core that can analyse data in great detail and mine it for trends and predict future outcomes. According to research from Gartner, they estimate that by 2017, firms with predictive analytics in place will be 20 per cent more profitable than those without. These tools are highly useful in areas such as alerting enterprises to new opportunities and advising them on the best courses of action to exploit them.
Usually, where the private sector goes in technology, the public sector follows, but already there are housing providers using predictive analytics in various guises, such as Mobysoft’s RentSense, to drive efficiencies through their organisations. However, it is vital that the public sector as a whole looks to embrace predictive analytics and other new technologies to help overcome the challenges of this new era.
Derek Steele is the CEO of Mobysoft.