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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

How can we use digital technology to make our sector more dynamic?


Paul Taylor, innovation coach at Bromford Lab, dropped by to talk all things digital ahead of chairing a session at CIH's digital housing event on 26 May.

Hi Paul! As an event chair, what do you see as the big digital housing topics affecting front line staff?

In one sense, the word digital has lost its meaning. Pretty much everything we do now, every aspect of our lives, relies upon digital tools and platforms. And that for me is the big topic - how we rethink everything we do from a frontline perspective and reimagine services for a permanently connected customer base.

What do you plan to discuss in your individual session?

My session kicks off the day so I want to cover the broad strategic opportunities we have to reimagine housing. What could we do now and what are big tech trends over the next couple of years? I'll be asking delegates in advance to feed into this and submit the areas they feel are ripe for disrupting!

What do you see as the real issues for frontline staff in implementing digital changes?

The main thing is that all this change is happening in technology at the same time as the biggest upheaval to housing in my career. Balancing the day to day - housing management and getting the rent in - with the introduction of new tech and services will need to be supported very carefully through testing and piloting.  And it will need different leadership and support for the front line - and indeed for customers too.

Where do you see this technology going in one, five or even 10 years?

It's hard to predict beyond a five-year time frame. Technology will soon become disposable. When Nick Atkin and I did the first CIH digital event we were marvelling at the prospect of a sub-£150 tablet. You'll soon see them at £15! With the technology becoming irrelevant the onus shifts to our capacity to think creatively about how we deploy it.

At the digital housing event we'll have unprecedented access to data about our customers, colleagues and businesses - how can we use this to make housing more dynamic and intuitive?

Internal and external communication will develop beyond recognition offering new opportunities of transparency and engagement with residents and stakeholders. The smart home developments that Matt Leach is talking about in his session will come of age - not just in how we run homes but how we build, upgrade and repair them. Our financial and governance systems have been the least ripe for innovation but with technologies like blockchain - there's opportunity to rethink how entire teams - perhaps the entire sector is run! And that's before we go near VR, robot assistants and wearable technology... It promises to be a busy day!

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