We’ve been busy gathering the collective knowledge and experience from ourselves and, more importantly, our customers and distilling it into how we do things. Not just to chase the latest technology advancements or hit the next product release, but to fundamentally think about how and what we create in future.
Going back to basics
We’ve been busy going back to basics, primarily asking our customers the all-important question: what should the solutions that we create actually provide at an elementary level?
Our customers consistently told us the same thing; they wanted Aareon to focus on the processes of what they do, not what buttons they needed to press. They didn’t care what bits of software were used for ‘process A’; they just wanted ‘process A’ to run smoothly from end-to-end with as little hassle as possible. They helped us identify seven common threads that are uniformly applicable:
- Data – Having all the information that you need when and where you need it.
- Integration – Making all the tools that you use in a given process just slot into place, whether we provide them or not.
- Insight – If data is the things that you know, then insight is the ability to put that knowledge to use.
- Automation – Control is important, but you shouldn’t have to do everything yourself.
- Mobility and agility – Only people who haven’t been paying attention for the last couple of years don’t understand the importance of being able to access processes wherever they need to.
- Omni-channel – Whether that’s different devices or platforms, a choice of access point is vital.
- Differentiation – Customers are at the heart of your organisation and the ability to service their differing needs in the best possible way is still paramount. It seems simple when you lay it out like that, but it requires a lot of work to deliver it.
We started with QL Yuneo, our new software-as-a-service (SaaS) housing management solution. This was obviously an important and exciting step for us. You probably already know why SaaS solutions are the way forward – a fully-managed service that’s hosted in the cloud adds value from a support perspective, from a security perspective, and from a cost perspective. In short, SaaS is by far the best way forward for any organisation, but that’s not the only reason we created QL Yuneo.
One of main reasons we created QL Yuneo is because it provides the infrastructure, flexibility and agility for us to remain focused on those seven threads and retain the freedom to innovate for the future. QL Yuneo has been a long time in the making, but we wanted to make sure we did it right.
Avoiding the integration pitfall
And by doing it right, we mean avoiding the big pitfall when it comes to a SaaS solution – integration. Signing up to a sparkling new SaaS system in a state-of-the-art cloud environment is great, but it’s probably not the only solution you have. And what if you need those other solutions? You’ll still need them to talk to that solution in the cloud and to each other. This is where people start to talk about web services and APIs solving that problem, and they’re right as long as you have the expertise on how to manage those web services and APIs. Because if you don’t, then it’s like having a new stereo installed in your car but without having any idea about how to set up the Bluetooth connectivity; it’s usable and valuable but it’s not using all the additional elements you want and therefore isn’t solving the full problem.
The alternative is putting everything into one solution or with one provider and sacrificing your ability to choose a better-fitting option. Most providers will support most of your processes but ticking the box to say they can do it doesn’t necessarily mean they can do it well. Every solution provider has their own strengths and weaknesses and you should have the ability to choose the option that works best for you.
That’s where iPaaS comes in as a cloud-based integration platform, delivering system connectivity as a cloud computing service. We know housing management systems can’t do everything on their own and other solutions need to be integrated into them.
You may be surprised to hear that sometimes those other solutions aren’t always provided by us – a shocker, I know! But just because they aren’t provided by us, it doesn’t mean that integration should be difficult, bespoke or expensive.
iPaaS starts with the process already configured; you just join the dots with the data sources you want connected with it. It can be as hands-on or as hands-off as you like. If you want the freedom to write your own processes, integrations and services, that’s fine with us. On the other hand, if you just want to slot in a new tool to streamline a process, then that can also be done without hassle.
We hope that there’s an Aareon Smart World solution that supports your end-to-end processes in the way that you need them to, but if there isn’t then you have the freedom and flexibility to look at the wider market or even build your own tools without worrying if it will plug into QL Yuneo.
We’ve started to share this vision and these solutions with our customers, one of which is South Kesteven District Council. Cllr Robert Reid, cabinet member for housing and property at the council, said, “By choosing Aareon, we expect to reap the benefits of a fully integrated system, enabling our colleagues to deliver excellent omni-channel services to our customers via traditional and digital channels, meeting current and future needs.
“As a landlord, we’ve shifted to exploit the opportunities that digital channels provide to enhance our service delivery, helping us to achieve our priority of delivering housing that meets the needs of all residents.”
We’ve been busy listening for a long time, and now we’re ready to talk about it.
Tina Kennedy is head of digital at Aareon UK.