2020 must be the year of data utilisation for the sector

If 2019 was the year of data awareness, then 2020 must be the year that the housing sector utilises data as a vital tool for addressing key issues.

Data Colourfull

In recent years ‘data’ has become a key word across every sector.

The introduction of GDPR has seen data pushed into the consciousness of businesses, the public and politicians alike.

However, for the housing sector, the Grenfell disaster alongside a growing awareness of tenant’s rights and increased customer expectations have been the main reasons behind data becoming such a crucial part of housing providers’ strategy in 2020.

The need to capture accurate data is now absolutely crucial and as result, there has been a huge increase in the awareness of the value of data, the importance of securing it as well as finding the best value from it.

Those who can effectively capture and record data and use it effectively, will gain a significant advantage over those who do not.

This is very much the case within the housing sector. It is clear that data has the potential to solve many of the key issues that are going to be impacting the sector deeply in 2020.

Data helping to ensure compliance

The increased awareness of data means that whilst organisations now see it as a key tool for achieving positive results, it is also increasingly, under the spotlight of politicians, regulators and the media.

The accurate and consistent collection of the ‘right’ data is something which social housing landlords need to quickly ensure.

Over the course of the next couple of years this sector is also going to see an increasingly complicated and severe regulatory landscape.

With the second part of the Grenfell Tower inquiry taking place, and with the government already committing to implementing the recommendations from the first part of Sir Martin Moore-Bick’s findings, a new focus and range of new regulations are going to be inevitable.

Effective data recording and management will play an important role in ensuring the adherence to these forthcoming regulations.

The ever-evolving compliance landscape will enforce that those operating within the sector can provide evidence of the work carried out or inspections undertaken across their housing stock.

Consistently recording and storing data in a secure system that is updated in real-time through flexible workflows, can provide housing providers with the ability to easily manage their specific compliance requirements.

Such systems will automatically provide a full audit trail of the works carried out on repairs and maintenance appointments.

Whilst the specifics of new regulations have yet to be confirmed, housing providers should not be waiting for regulators to tell them what to do.

Proactivity is the key here. Whilst the sector is good at reacting to change, a proactive approach will be crucial over the coming months.

Getting data and processes in order now, rather than waiting, is one way to ensure that the housing sector is as prepared as possible for the compliance obligations they face in the future.

Data encouraging efficiency

Whilst undoubtedly, data will play a huge role in helping housing providers address the future requirements of regulations, the use of clean, accurate data can help in the present, by providing the evidence required to introduce more accurate management practices.

Collecting all relevant data is crucial, everything from the repairs and maintenance work carried out at properties to customer feedback.

Extracting the value from the data gathered is where most organisations fall down. Automating this approach is the only way to ensure that the most value from the data is consistently assessed.

The lack of close analysis means that decision making and forecasting has to be done, to a large extent on guess work, rather than actual proof points.

Data on CRM systems or spreadsheets only really touch the surface with huge quantities of data lying undiscovered or viewed only in isolation, due to insufficient time or resource to interrogate the complete data picture.

Having access to data in real-time means that all relevant parties have access to the same data at the same time which delivers both consistency and accuracy, whilst also enabling the organisation to react to trends and make predictions such as changing demands and issues.

Improved efficiencies can also be commonly experienced off the back of effective data management. Workflow rationalisation is a good example of this.

The biggest cause of inefficient workflows is the improper flow of information.

Information feeds everything, from stock availability, to navigating the best route to each job, to the right time to invoice a customer.

Data can often not be fully exploited or is not of good enough quality, which results in ambiguity and frustration. This in turn leads to falling service levels and inefficiencies.

Data increasing levels of customer experience

Customer experience (CX) has become a key focus for organisations across almost every sector.

This focus has come from the customer’s rise of expectations of the level of service they receive in every aspect of their lives.

Whether it is dealing with Amazon or their housing provider, the consumer does not differentiate between providers and expects the same level of service from each of them.

This has been a particular challenge for the housing sector recently, and will continue to be one in 2020, particularly in light of the criticisms aimed at housing providers in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster, where local authorities were accused of ignoring the complaints of tenants.

It is likely that there will be a further increase in the spotlight on CX in the housing sector in 2020.

Therefore, it should be at the heart of all housing providers’ operations and should be a critical element of an organisation’s data utilisation.

For example, using job management software accessed on a mobile device, contractors are able to directly record satisfaction levels of the customer through simple on-the-job satisfaction surveys.

All the data can then be analysed in real-time within the system which enables the team to respond to any concerns immediately, ensuring the entire business works in tandem to maintain customer relations.

Data giving the housing sector 2020 vision

Undoubtedly data can play a huge role in helping housing providers through some of the key issues impacting the sector in 2020.

It can only work however, if the data being analysed is of sufficient quality and relevance.

Using solutions to automate the collection and sorting of data is going to be crucial if the housing sector is going to get the most out of the huge quantity of data it collects.

Taking the insights that data can give on CX, operative’s work and completion rates, efficiency and adherence to an increasingly complicated regulatory landscape, will be key for the housing sector in 2020.

It is time to invest in the right technological solutions to help gather and rationalise the wealth of data collected to achieve this.

Those who do not embrace both data and technology will find themselves even further behind the data curve; a vulnerable place to be.