We recently published a paper called “the Digital Compass” which looked at some of the key internal arrangements worth considering when mobilising a digital strategy.
But let’s step back and look at why digital?
“Digital” is an amalgamation of what perhaps was previously known as IT and the Business – they become one-and-the-same. The question becomes what method is the best to satisfy your customer or business interests and that might be people or technology based, or a combination of the two. Whereas previously the method was typically people-based, with people using some IT systems.
Key to this is understanding the business drivers. In a ‘for profit’ business the drivers can include building the brand reputation, proposition or those which directly increase profits. Even if there is not an immediate requirement, there may be good reason to keep your current technology up to date. This is so you can take advantage of a huge wave of new technologies we all expect to see over the coming years. (Older systems are built with different design principles in mind and may not work with the new technology in a way that meets your business’s current and future needs).
But what about in a not-for-profit environment? Not-for-profit is still about delivering value, it’s just that value isn’t measured in shareholder return or by the balance sheet.
I have sketched out the high-level context in social housing. This is a fascinating sector which provides a combination of tenancy and related support services with profits (or surpluses) typically being invested in people, community or property development programmes. The value is in the difference made to people’s lives, whether it’s a roof over their heads or providing other support services that enable a self-sustaining life.
So a different value-proposition to other sectors, but similar underlying drivers, reduce the expense on the operational things which don’t add value in return for doing more for the things that do, whether that is to grow the company, increase profit or ‘do more good’.
Going back to housing, there is an increasing opportunity: organisations are merging and becoming a size where the technology is (proportionally) more affordable; there has been a maturing of technology so appropriate solutions are now available (e.g. the development of the Microsoft / Azure tools), and; there is increased pressure generated by government policy for organisations to be more efficient.