Why UK housing associations are failing to use data as an asset

Greg Dean, Phoenix Sector Sales Manager for Charities & Housing Associations, takes a look at the findings of recent independent research* we commissioned alongside VMware among employees from housing associations across the UK

Greg Dean, Sector Sales Manager – Charities and Housing Associations at Phoenix Software

“UK housing associations provide a wealth of vital services to citizens; but as demand surges and issues within the system persist, it’s become clear that the current methods for managing data and supporting a more mobile workforce are no longer fit for purpose.

Organisations in this sector have had to contend with a range of challenges. From central funding freezes to benefit payment caps, ongoing welfare reform and social housing fraud, the need to offer better services to increasingly digital citizens is mounting. Crucial to the success of this is the effective storage and management of data.

Data is at the very heart of what organisations in this sector do, collecting an enormous amount of important information on property and people. Its widely recognised that better use of this information can power decisions in a range of areas from home design and investment to the allocation of care services, maintenance and repairs. Effective use of data is also set to become increasingly important as the sector embraces the Internet of Things (IoT) as a way to remotely monitor utilities and security.

We recently asked employees from housing associations in the UK what kind of job their organisation was doing when it came to storing, managing and using data and providing the right access for staff and suppliers on the move. Many were in desperate need of change:

  • Three quarters (75 %) admitted they don’t think their organisation is capable of effectively using the information it stores
  • A fifth believe current data storage and management capabilities will need a refresh within the next 12 months, 27 % in two years and a third in three years
  • Aside from managing and storing data (43 % of housing associations), the top challenges are access to the right technology for staff and suppliers (47 %), flexible working (65 %) and data compliance and spending cuts (51 %)
  • One in three are still struggling to manage tenant payments following the introduction of Universal Credit
  • A worrying number don’t believe or know whether their organisation currently has the ability to manage and protect mobile devices (19 %), email content (25 %) or applications (39 %) used by remote workers and suppliers

Our Findings: In Brief

Infographic: Why UK housing authorities struggle to evolve IT

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We recently asked employees from housing associations in the UK what kind of job their organisation was doing when it came to storing, managing and using data and providing the right access for staff and suppliers on the move. Many were in desperate need of change:

  • Three quarters (75 %) admitted they don’t think their organisation is capable of effectively using the information it stores
  • A fifth believe current data storage and management capabilities will need a refresh within the next 12 months, 27 % in two years and a third in three years
  • Aside from managing and storing data (43 % of housing associations), the top challenges are access to the right technology for staff and suppliers (47 %), flexible working (65 %) and data compliance and spending cuts (51 %)
  • One in three are still struggling to manage tenant payments following the introduction of Universal Credit
  • A worrying number don’t believe or know whether their organisation currently has the ability to manage and protect mobile devices (19 %), email content (25 %) or applications (39 %) used by remote workers and suppliers
Many housing associations recognise the need to change and are already reimagining processes to adapt how they better serve clients. Faced with budget constraints, and a lack of clarity around the best way to manage masses of data, the findings show awareness of the potential impact a lack of action could have on citizen services.
Greg DeanSector Sales Manager – Charities and Housing Associations at Phoenix

Clearly the scope of change required is daunting – but most of the changes here centre on flexibility, storage and management and this is where the focus of CIOs in this sector should be.

Our Findings: In Detail

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Future-proof, cost-effective solutions to enable them to collect, store and use the information at their fingertips more effectively is what is required, offering them the best opportunity to streamline processes, save money and improve services for citizens.

Multi-cloud is where organisations in every sector are heading. This is the use of various cloud technologies to ensure they extract the most value from all aspects of IT, rather than just using a single cloud provider. Housing associations wouldn’t only benefit from solving the data conundrum that they currently have by using a multi-cloud approach, but they would also be able to provide better flexible working solutions for staff and suppliers, support a range of applications, and make sure that emails, applications and mobile devices used by remote workers and suppliers are fully secure.

Organisations in this sector face a number of complex challenges. We’ve seen some fantastic examples across the sector where housing associations have embraced more flexible, cost-effective avenues for data storage and management … By embracing a common storage platform, more housing associations can take advantage of tomorrow’s technology to deliver on the challenges they face today.
Tim HearnDirector, UK Government and Public Services, VMware

Perhaps most importantly, they would be able to provide the services necessary to better help citizens without having to worry about their constrained budget; it is a more cost-effective approach than using legacy systems, processes and architecture.

Efficient analysis of information can help housing associations build more accurate pictures of tenants and assist forecasting for the planning and delivery of services, reducing time and money, and improving citizen and supplier interactions. It is therefore vital that housing associations make the right investments today, to ensure they can proactively plan, project and purchase effectively for tomorrow.”

Talk to us today

If any of the challenges highlighted above resonate with you and your organisation, myself and the wider Phoenix Charities and Housing Associations Team are always on hand to help. Please do not hesitate to get in touch – call 01904 562200, email hello@phoenixs.co.uk or complete the form below


*About the Research
Phoenix, alongside VMware, commissioned research to explore the extent of storage and mobility challenges currently faced by UK housing associations. The research was conducted in April and May 2017, and questioned 72 employees from housing associations across the UK.
Although every attempt has been made to ensure the accuracy of the above article, Phoenix Software Ltd cannot be held responsible for any opinions or information provided therein and as such is not liable for any damages caused by a customer’s reliance upon this information.