Digital empowerment and leadership are now more important than ever
Ahead of SFHA's Housing Now, Housing’s Future: Digital Empowerment and Leadership Conference, taking place on 25 February, Gary Dickson, Digital and Design Manager, explains why the pandemic resulted in challenges – but also opportunities – for organisations.
In 2020, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the shift to, and reliance on, digital, data and technology for organisations and their staff was nothing short of monumental. It was an acceleration in months not years, for the implementation and use of new technology and digital working methods. Now digital has become the priority for all, not just some, it is as the Scottish Government’s New Horizon’s Digital Strategy report says “digital is no longer a disrupter. It is now a vital sustainer”.
The pandemic has, without a doubt, been one of the most challenging periods for many of us in our lifetime, yet, for me personally, I must try to look at the positives that have happened because of it. At SFHA, we had been lucky enough to embark on our digital journey at the end of 2018 to update and upgrade our IT infrastructure and ways of working. When we went into lockdown, SFHA staff were able to fully mobilise and operate remotely very quickly. It allowed me to reflect on all the great work we had put in place and achieved together. But it also meant that digital plans had to be accelerated to ensure we were able to deliver for our membership.
Part of those plans was the launch of the SFHA Digital Check-up Tool for Housing Associations which we launched in September 2020. The tool allows members to measure their maturity and has allowed us to understand where they need support and, subsequently, to provide it.
Interim findings have highlighted that the housing sector still has work to do before our organisations are fully embracing digital. In doing so, we will be more resilient for the future.
Over 50+ organisations have completed the check-up so far. Answers to the question, Do your senior leaders (senior management, board and trustees) understand the need to adapt to a digital world, were:
43% - Digital is a strategic priority, enabled by leadership, digital progress is happening
33% - There is a good level of senior engagement, we are slowly improving our digital services
17% - Digital is recognised as important to our future but progress just doesn't happen
7% - Digital is embedded into what we do – it cuts across all areas and is part of our daily practices
With only 7% of organisations having digital embedded in everything they do - it tells us much work still needs to be done to ensure that leaders can realise and believe that empowering their workforces will ensure the continuity and resilience of their businesses for their tenants.
Digital is not just a small part of a business or a new IT system; it is now the conduit for and, importantly, the enabler across every aspect of businesses, from culture, communication, tenant engagement, asset management, collaboration and demonstrating value and much more.
- We can identify and use the right technology to make job roles better and more effective.
- We can give our customers easier methods and platforms to make contact that fits in with their lives.
- We can create smart homes that will keep our most vulnerable communities safe.
- We can become leaders and innovators for other sectors to follow rather than be followers.
- We need to digitally empower and enable our staff to allow them to do the best work they can.
SFHA’s Housing Now, Housing’s Future: Digital Empowerment and Leadership Conference, taking place on 25 February, will discuss the new ways of working and ideas that have emerged as a result of the pandemic.
The conference will explore:
- Future digital trends
- Digital strategy
- Digital leadership
- Value of data
- Digital asset management
- Digital employees
- What’s new for Microsoft 365?
- Cyber security
- Digital telecare
Housing Now, Housing’s Future strategic event series:
4 March: Our Sector, Our People
Prices start at £150 for SFHA members.
Secure your place:
To view the full programme, and to book your place, please visit the SFHA Live! section.