I recently asked a housing client to tell me how they planned to define ‘digital transformation’ to their team. Somewhat unsurprisingly, the answer was along the lines of, “It’s about using IT to make improvements to services and systems”. After a pause, I went on to draw out so much more than this from their initial answer.
Because the question isn’t really “How do we define digital transformation?”, it’s actually “How do we all adjust to a digital world?”. If you were to ask your colleagues or tenants the latter question, the answers would be much more revealing than to the former.
For housing providers and digital experts like Leighton, we need to be planning for the impact of the digital world in our communities and homes. What does the challenge of a tripartite set of emerging and overlapping ecosystems (i.e. Apple vs. Android vs. Amazon) mean for us all? Which IoT sensors can reduce my maintenance costs? What sensors can improve tenant safety and reduce risk while maintaining privacy? How can we interact with tech-savvy tenants while not alienating those less tech-enabled?
When we ask in this very publication, quite rightly, if digital transformation is a sticking plaster or in-depth surgery, we need to be sure to understand that it can be both of these things, and everything in between, depending on our energy and vision to adjust to the changing digital world. The housing providers that take a lead and have the confidence to ask for help from digital experts are the ones that will be best placed to realise the commercial, service-driven and efficiency savings that great innovation can bring.
Ownership of smart devices has doubled during the past two years and the same lack of understanding about the impact of digital transformation carries itself into actual customer-driven realisations. A recent PwC survey concluded, “Before making a purchase, only one in five people expect to be positively impacted by a connected home device. But once purchased, consumers report much higher levels of actual consumer value. The perceived health benefit of a hub or assistant is rated as 13 per cent, increasing to 44 per cent after purchase and energy meters reported a pre-purchase impact value of 23 per cent for comfort and 56 per cent in financial terms, rising to 54 per cent and 72 per cent respectively once installed.” This reinforces the fact that in the digital world, many consumers don’t fully understand the potential impact of innovation.
A great way to draw out vision from colleagues, to ultimately support their understanding of innovation, is often to start with “imagine if…”. This is a good place to start because it appeals to the humanity in our organisations, and not the IT. And it’s our people who will be responsible for defining the vision and delivering the results.
So, imagine if… your maintenance teams knew when a boiler part was about to fail before it did. Imagine if… your tenants had an easy way to add an Amazon Echo to their landlord’s app to pay a bill. Imagine if… you could reduce inbound service calls to zero by having an amazing online chat-bot.
Over to you – we and others can’t wait to help.
Ron Wilcox is the business development manager for Leighton.