Capita’s Housing Conference was back again for 2015 and this year was different. The new, free one-day structure of the conference enabled over 160 familiar faces (and a few new ones) to join us in Daventry, Northamptonshire for what lived up to be an action-packed event. Last year’s conference highlighted the true value of utilising technology to its full potential to engage and inspire communities, 12 months on, how has the social housing sector responded to new technology trends? What is the best way to engage with an increasingly divergent community? And where do we even begin to prepare for Generation Z?
Commencing proceedings, Dr Catherine Howe, Solutions Director at Capita suggested that to avoid the machines taking over, “We should be actively shaping our technological future”, setting the tone of the conference – how can we future proof the housing sector against profound socioeconomic and technological change? With The Internet of Things currently creating a wave of disruption across the industry, Catherine suggested that we should be questioning what we are actually doing with the resulting big data and analytics. Moreover, Catherine highlighted the need to respond to smart technologies in a way that shapes smart people, within smart places. Capita’s Glenn Allen and Brendan Wood later provided a valuable insight into what big data means to the housing sector and its potential to improve service delivery.
It would appear that Capita’s Housing Conference favourite, BBC Home Editor Mark Easton, could not resist coming back for more. We welcomed Mark once again for his fourth year running, this time as a keynote speaker. With the objective of uncovering ‘Why politics won’t solve the housing crisis’, Mark delved into a world of alarming statistics set to determine the future of social housing. With a suggested continued decline in housing, devolution to combined authorities and the incentive for social housing providers to build commercial homes, the somewhat bleak reality of the housing crisis left some feeling a little disheartened. However, Mark lifted spirits by concluding that “We shouldn’t rely on politics to solve the housing crisis”, nor indeed do we need to. Together, social housing providers can form an alliance to work towards solving the crisis.
The imminent arrival of Generation Z (those born after 2000) into the workplace was established as a key topic for debate throughout the conference. Roger Birkinshaw, Capita’s Housing Director, asked the audience to consider whether they feel they are doing enough as a supplier and indeed as an employer to prepare for Generation Z. Taking us on a user journey through a selection of housing provider websites, Roger demonstrated the true value of maximising user-experience. Generation Z have an estimated 8 second attention span – are your services optimised for that?
James Pickering, Consultant at Capita Pay360, discussed all things payments. With rapidly changing trends on how we pay for things, James highlighted the indispensable need to fully integrate payments services with housing systems. Generation Z are growing up in a society of self-service, contactless payments and mobile responsive services, making the need for quick and easy payments greater than ever.
With an ageing population, it’s not just Generation Z we need to be thinking about. Nicki Kirkup and Andrew Ginns, Nottingham Community Housing Association, shared how their brand new TV-based communication system ‘SMaRT Messenger’ aims to tackle the major challenge of social isolation. With vulnerable people in mind, David Pugh discussed how Liverpool Mainstay has used Capita Support to help reduce homelessness. Catherine Nicolson, Fortunatus Housing Solutions, also presented how social media Capita’s Engage app has helped in assisting vulnerable people to report repairs and issues. Engaging with communities and maximising the potential of technologies is putting us well on the way to future proofing the social housing sector.
Building Information Management (BIM) is here and now – it’s not next generation. Justin Fisher, Product Specialist at Capita, discussed exciting new Asset Management developments including a BIM solution. With a new integrated mapping module, “Draw-a-search” tool and numerous other developments, Capita’s OPENAssets software is really focussed on reducing admin time for its customers. In line with smarter asset management, BIM is changing how we design, build and operate homes. With the Government’s mandate that all centrally procured construction projects must achieve Level 2 BIM by 2016 in mind, Justin delivered an insightful demonstration into Capita’s upcoming BIM software. BIM is presenting the social housing sector with a huge array of exciting opportunities – watch this space.
Helen Rogers, Head of Housing Products at Capita, presented the eagerly anticipated 24 month product roadmap. With an extensive plan encompassing the Internet of Things, BIM, customer engagement, seamless integrations and much, much more, Helen explored what is promised to be a compelling journey for Capita customers. Michelle Tyler, Operations Manager at Capita, reviewed the 2014 objectives, sharing the success of operating changes across the business. With further investment into Capita’s support services, the focus is firmly on service excellence. Focussed sessions showcasing the latest version of OPENHousing, developments in Capita TotalMobile and an open discussion on delivering change through the power of CRM also shared what is set to come. The conference also saw Capita Housing in the spotlight. Demonstrations of new modules across the core system, online and mobile which, together with an exciting product roadmap, clearly demonstrates Capita’s commitment to the future of the product. Watch this space.
When it came to exploring what the future holds, the conference highlighted the importance of engaging with the foundation of social housing – the people. It recognised that by maximising the potential of technology, we can create spaces – digital or physical – which engage communities and help to build the future of social housing. As the 7th annual conference came to a close, Mark Easton admitted that Capita’s Housing Conference had become a firm favourite in his calendar. With a highly captivating agenda, valuable networking opportunities and engaging speakers, it’s hard not to agree with Mark.
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