We’ve started in earnest on the production of the Housing Technology 2020 conference and as part of our background activities, it’s been interesting to look back to see how the focus and themes of the conference have changed since the first one in 2010 – those themes are a good barometer and bellwether for the wider IT trends in the social housing sector.
The over-arching trend over the past decade is how IT in housing is moving further and further up the corporate hierarchy in terms of its strategic importance being recognised and endorsed.
Back in 2010, the theme of our annual conference was simply around ‘IT in housing’; nothing specific and primarily around IT departments reactively serving housing providers’ business needs.
Skip forward to 2013 and IT has gained considerable influence in housing providers’ business operations – the themes for the Housing Technology 2013 conference focused on IT as a ‘value-adding utility service’, digital inclusion, business intelligence, line-of-business applications, BYOD and the consumerisation of IT, omni-channel tenant communications, value for money, and welfare reform and universal credit.
Jump forward again, and the core topics for Housing Technology 2020 include:
- What’s next? Low code, AI, machine learning, STP, robotic process automation, ‘digital twins’ and other innovations.
- Seriously mobile – Moving towards ‘mobile first’ now that smartphones are almost ubiquitous.
- Digital transformation – From tenant portals, self-service and UX to data management, automation and collaboration.
- Small but perfectly formed – IT strategies, software (incl. COTS) and services for smaller housing providers.
- Business imperatives – Using technology for cost reductions, business change and innovation.
- Solid foundations – Making the most of your core business applications (housing, asset, finance, mobile, CRM, etc, and incl. legacy integration).
- Refreshing your infrastructure – Cloud migration, unified communications, PaaS, cyber security and DR/business continuity.
Of course, there is naturally still a strong focus on ‘keeping the lights on’ but housing providers’ technology teams are now increasingly acting as organisational ‘pacemakers’ – driving business innovation (not just IT) and determining the pace of corporate growth.
In our view, the next stage of IT maturity in our sector should see IT having a boardroom seat as standard, in the same way that, say, finance and governance take their places on the board for granted.