The 4th annual Housing Technology conference and executive forum began today with a keynote speech given by World Cup winner and Team GB's Director of Sport for the London Olympics, Sir Clive Woodward OBE.
Sir Clive was expected to demonstrate how social housing providers can learn from the world of sport when it comes to building high performance, and how this can be applied to IT and business operations.
The conference also included a wealth of presentations, exhibitions from technology experts including vendors and consultants, and networking opportunities for IT housing and senior business executives.
Subjects covered included a variety of housing and IT related issues, including "line-of-business applications”, which includes housing, asset and finance management, CRM, mobile working and scheduling and much more.
The conference is being held at a key time for housing associations across the UK as new welfare reforms (PDF) begin to come into play. This has flagged up the necessity to look at digital inclusion, as many people in social housing are unable to get online due to economic constraints.
With the welfare bill now looking to pay rents directly to tenants, rather than housing associations as it was previously set up, now is an important time to ensure that tenants have access to digital communications.
Of the 8.7 million adults that have never been online, 4.1 million of these are people who live in social housing. Not only would teaching these people digital skills and making the web more accessible give tenants more options with regard to employability and wellbeing, it also has numerous financial benefits.
These include financial savings of £340m to landlords in communications costs, £530m in savings to the tenant and £360m annual savings to local governments. Being online gives tenants the ability to be in control of their lives and finances, as well as improving education.
The conference also focused on Housing Analytics, new ways of working, such as BYOD and changing work patterns due to teleworking, as well as the consumerisation of IT. It also looked at communications in-depth, including joined-up operations across call centres, web, email, the use of social media and SMS.