Technology for Technologies Sake is Not the Answer to Digital Transformation in Housing


July 4, 2024

Drawing a diverse audience from across housing and local councils, Housing 2024 kicked off this week in Manchester. This annual event brings together leaders, experts and vendors from across the sector, sharing insight and innovation.

FourNet are long standing partners of this event and relish the opportunity to showcase the latest technologies and solutions driving change across the sector. We also discussed pressing issues like addressing vulnerability and successfully implementing digital transformation solutions.

Amidst the excitement of discovering the latest innovations, housing leaders were keenly focused on addressing the sector’s key challenges. Aside from the key messaging around sustainable communities and solutions, which saw the event have a dedicated forum for green issues, many organisations were interested in how to meet evolving citizen needs, especially around the use of AI and automation as well as vulnerability.

Vulnerability remains a high-level topic, and organisations are still working on ways to identify and tackle the challenges. As always, money and budgets remain a challenge, with many organisations knowing and wanting to implement changes to tackle their challenges, but don't have the financial power to do so.

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Director of CX Oliver Bareham and Sandip Patel presented to a packed audience on the opening day, where they discussed the common pitfalls of digital transformation.

Some leading statistics from FourNet were that that technology is a great enabler, but nearly 85% of digital transformations fail due to major milestones missed in the planning phases.

Oliver Bareham, CX Director of FourNet: “Technology for technologies sake is not the answer; we need to understand the root cause of the challenge and build the solution to tackle that. That may involve technology or transformation of human operations”.

Bareham, then spoke about the over reliance on AI and that this isn't a silver bullet, and that the technology is still emerging and organisations that place complete trust in such technology could come unstuck. Walking through real world examples, he demonstrated to the audience how AI needs teaching to over come the interpretability challenges around both image, voice and text

Senior CX Insight Analyst Sandip Patel then took to the audience on Fournet’s transformation journey with Your Homes Newcastle (YHN).

Initially approached to provide a 'call-back' solution, the FourNet team’s experience led them to ask more probing questions to get to the real challenge.

Analysis quickly showed that YHN’s existing operations weren’t set up to leverage the new technology. Recognising this, we prioritised optimising their workforce management to meet demand efficiently.

Spending time pulling together and analysing the data from YHN , revealed new ways to transform in order to meet their goals, that did not involve significant investment in ‘out-of-the-box’ tech. We identified that without changes to internal processes and workforce scheduling, YHN would need an additional £1.1m investment in extra staff and a staggering 31 new full-time employees to answer the existing call volumes.

Patel shared the impactful results of engagement even at this early stage in the transformation journey for YHN, which achieved an impressive.

  • 29% Improvement in work to pay ratio
  • 48% reduction in abandoned calls
  • Additional 4000 calls answered per week.
  • £1m saving in avoided costs

And all of this in just an eight-week engagement cycle.


In Summary

The housing sector is still on a transformational journey in terms of technology. However, it must avoid looking at ‘out-of-the-box’ technologies without first understanding the root causes of contact, which can be gleaned from analysing the data.

The Your Homes Newcastle story shared at Housing 2024, highlights how initial ideas on a fix can sometimes be the wrong solution, and that stepping back and getting third party expertise can pay dividends in the longer term.

If you are on a transformational journey and would like to better understand your data, take advantage of our free data diagnostic. It is what set Your Homes Newcastle on the path to saving £1m in costs.

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