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

'Predicting the future is a tricky business, but we must.'


Rooftop Housing Group chief executive Boris Worrall says housing organisations must look to the future to make sure we meet the challenges we face.

Predicting the future can be a tricky business. But it can be done. The work I was involved in at Orbit a few years ago on looking to 2020 was remarkably prescient in predicting some major trends; the rise of populism before Brexit was even considered a possibility; a meaner harsher world; devolution; and the rise of mobile tech as being more vital for us than physical movement, to name just a few.

It’s a topic I am really looking forward to when I address the CIH Repairs and Maintenance conference in Coventry on Thursday. But why should we even try? In an increasingly dynamic and changing world, we are seeing how those businesses which can anticipate and adapt are able to thrive – while those which refuse or cant evolve can very quickly go to the wall. Anyone remember AoL? You’d forgotten, right? But at one time we could not have imagined searching using anything else.

And housing is no different. With the news of Wall Street giant Blackstone’s entrance into our market, can we really sit back and hope for the best? For all of Elon Musk’s blasting cars into orbit, the rise of BitCoin and Blockchain, actually the way the future plays our most vividly is in our daily lives, so much of which we spend in our homes. So while you might not immediately link asset management with future thinking – we absolutely should.

In the past two weeks I’ve reviewed what five of the globe’s leading companies and thinkers are predicting for the years ahead. And there is a good deal of commonality over what they see as the global trends. On Thursday I shall be considering those ‘MegaTrends’ and what they might mean for housing, our customers and the communities where we work. He’s a flavour of my top 10 picks for the key trends we need to think about as we look to 2023 and beyond…

1. Ageing Population – the number of people aged 65 will overtake those number of people under 5 in the coming decades. This is a huge and relentless global challenge on multiple fronts

2. Political instability – can the world actually get any more unstable? It’s hard to imagine, but strap in things don’t look like they will settle down any time soon

3. Natural resources – Johannesburg towing icebergs to melt to avoid running dry is just the start; we can expect conflict as populations rise and resources dwindle. Remember the film Dune? It’s coming…

4. Bright lights, Big City – the move from the countryside to the cities is a relentless and long-term trend which will continue to have massive implications in innumerable ways

5. The Robots are coming – Huge implications for labour and supply chains. 3D printed boiler spares from the back of your van, anyone? It’s going to happen guys

6. Generation Z – Everything from consumer behaviour to our leisure preferences will change with the next generation. If you thought the Millennials were a bit odd, wait til you see what’s next

7. Future of Work – work anywhere, anytime. Costa Coffee as your office? Multiple jobs. Fluid workforce. It’s already here. The 9-5 office isn’t dead yet. But it will be.

8. Competition – Tech means the barriers to enter the market are falling. Who would have imagined Uber or AirBnB five years ago. Are they coming for us? Probably

9. Consumers – Social media, globalisation, changing buying patterns and lifestyles are completely transforming how we work, rest and play. Will we be the only place left where you phone to get a job done?

10. Data Dilemma – the digital revolution has massive opportunities and implications for data management. Who can you trust? GDPR is just the start.

Boris Worrall is the chief executive of Rooftop Housing Group and will be speaking at our Repairs and Maintenance Conference on May 23 and 24

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