Friday, 28 April 2017

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Forward thinking

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For the second year running, Homes 2016 has joined forces with INMOTION, the well-known social housing event concerned with innovation that for many years has been run by Kirona (previously Xmbrace).

At Homes 2016, there are four sessions branded as INMOTION specifically focused on trends and best practice in technology. The ideas and case studies presented over the next four pages draw on these sessions and have been written by some of our speakers, for whose contributions Kirona is very grateful.

When we started to plan this year’s INMOTION sessions, we recognised that some of the themes in last year’s event have become much clearer. This informed our topics and speakers. A topic of particular interest this year is that of mergers and their IT implications.

One of our four sessions, Approaches to Successful Merger Transformation, is based on the experience of North West housing group Torus. As well as trying to establish a new business against a backdrop of unprecedented sector change, Torus faced the extra challenge of having to transform the group’s IT.

Technology has the potential to enable the transformation that is the purpose of many mergers. If it is poorly managed, it is also capable of undermining the intended benefits. The push for mergers is closely linked to the need to improve value for money, and this runs through all the INMOTION sessions. For example, we have a panel drawn from sector experts to discuss this proposition: ‘The disciplined use of technology is critical when providing a 21st century asset management strategy and repairs service’.

The theme of value for money is inextricably linked to our third theme, which is self-service. Kirona has seen the sector adopting this methodology with some urgency in the past year. There is, of course, wide recognition that the housing sector has lagged in moving to self-service but it is at least able to learn lessons from other sectors.

A further INMOTION session focuses on the golden rules for self-service repairs, drawing on the experience and vision of East Lothian Housing Association, which can demonstrate that size is not everything when it comes to digital transformation.

Our fourth session is another Scottish contribution looking at improved value for money and customer service through innovation and technology. North Lanarkshire Council shows how the use of technology can help to share information across different services and organisations, and deliver a housing and health strategy that is integrated and efficient.

When INMOTION first started, it was all about mobile working, particularly in responsive repairs. Those benefits are now well understood. It still has the potential to transform the way other services are delivered.

At Kirona, we find many housing activities, including other aspects of repairs and maintenance, are still dominated by manual office-based processes. Yet the technology now available when on site or at the fingertips of the customer can help landlords to respond quickly to change priorities or assess resources.

We hope the INMOTION sessions will prove informative to social landlords hoping to identify how technology can improve their business.

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