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The Future Of Technology In Social Housing

Author: Ruban Rajasooriyar

As consumers we experience the value of the technology in every aspect of our lives, with 24/7 access to services that are tailored to our specific needs and preferences.

Social Housing Associations are facing a changing world and understand the need to create more modern processes for both their tenants and staff.  But with high volumes of people, staff and data, it’s a big job! With that in mind, we use our years of experience working with Social Housing providers to predict the technological future we believe is emerging for Housing Associations.

DocTech have provided document management software to The Social Housing Sector since 2001. Digitisation has the power to transform the Social Housing sector, streamlining processes for field operatives, transforming engagement with tenants, and helping to deliver a more proactive approach to housing management and maintenance.

There has been much research in recent years on The Future of Technology within Social Housing.  Themes have emerged around how digitalisation is transforming the sector.  As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic there has been an increased focus on adopting technology, in particular to facilitate remote working.

Read our top five predictions for the future use of technology within Social Housing or download to share with colleagues.

The Future of Tech in Social Housing

1. Data Management Will Be Digitally Streamlined

Using technologies that allow access from mobile devices will provide remote and field based workers with real-time access to information and systems. By automating processes, moving to digital signature solutions and creating a digital trail across the organisation, Social Housing can remove many time-consuming manual processes in Finance, HR and tenant management.

Avoiding duplication of administrative tasks and reducing the delay in responding to tenant requirements, increases efficiency and improves the quality of the tenant experience.

A key element of change here is the adoption of global integrated document management solutions. The digitisation of information enables housing providers to collect and leverage data, creating a single consolidated view of tenants and properties.  This provides invaluable insights to better inform decision making.

2. IT Infrastructure Will Become More Agile

One of the key factors limiting digital transformation in social housing is the underlying IT infrastructure. Updating or replacing systems is often viewed as a ‘nice to have’ expense, but maintaining these outdated IT Systems is costly and prohibitive to better working practices. Digital methods of working require infrastructure that can handle large volumes of data in real time that can adapt to changing levels of workload, and provide high levels of security to protect personal data and business critical applications.

Organisations need to adopt an IT environment that utilises live web-based applications, whether they remain On-Premise or Cloud based.  There is no doubt that the future of social housing lies in greater adoption of digital technologies, from cloud infrastructure to communications channels, smart sensors to mobile payments. The quandary is the speed at which Social Housing providers are able to embrace new skills and implement technologies that enable this transformation. We believe working with partners is key to this.

3. Self Service For Tenants

While the drive to encourage tenants to use voice or web-based portals has existed for several years, recent circumstances have accelerated the shift to digital channels.

Digital adoption has increased as more tenants become tech-savvy, and since the pandemic has restricted access to face-to-face interaction, tenants are more ready to accept self-service options, something discussed further by Housing Technology.

Although a proportion of tenants still rely on person-to-person support, a growing number of tenants prefer to manage their own accounts through apps or online document portals.  These make it easier to check rent payments, report maintenance issues or simply update personal details.

4. Better Systems Empower Better Working Practices

Connected devices can help to optimise energy usage and reduce the carbon footprint of homes through better control over heating and other energy uses. Smart and wearable technology is digitally connecting vulnerable tenants to support services when they are at home or out-and-about.

Many housing organisations are utilising intelligent sensors to monitor environmental factors such as heat, humidity and carbon monoxide, allowing them to proactively look after their properties and residents. In Social Housing offices themselves, better working practices in Customer Service and Finance enable instant access to main systems using integrated document pools for full visibility of processes, approvals and document access. This in turn drastically improves GDPR compliance and the disruption caused by audits or Subject Access Requests.

5. Digitalisation Must Be Proactive

Social Housing providers have historically been reactive rather than proactive, responding to events such as reported repair issues or tenant arrears once there is a significant issue. This has resulted in a poor relationship with tenants and inefficient action where earlier intervention might have prevented the issue occurring, as well as saved money.

The great wealth of data that comes with digitisation offers a great opportunity for housing providers to fundamentally shift their working practices.

Tapping into data from IoT sensors can flag potential maintenance issues and, used alongside a tenant management system, accelerates efficiency. Connected data and analytics can help housing providers identify indicators that suggest a tenant is struggling to pay rent so that action to prevent them falling into arrears can be taken.

DocTech, based in Greater Manchester are a team of dedicated document management specialists. Established since 1984, we have worked with Social Housing providers throughout the UK for 20 years.

Read about the services we provide to one of our Housing Clients.

Contact us now for more information 0161 647 7040