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Housing's disruptor moment isn't in the future
- it's here now

   The Pace of Change

Writing in 24Housing, Michael Appleby alerts us to the fact that change is happening at an exponential rate, and the housing sector has been slower than others in making progress in developing its service offer to reflect the pace of change.

   Operational Approaches

Retail, banking, local authority and estate agents have radically different operational approaches to those they used just five years ago, whilst the housing sector has remained relatively static. For example, the 1% rent reduction in 2016 provided a clear driver to organisations in reviewing the way they operated. Many considered greater use of technology and innovative approaches to their delivery models.

   Sector Wide Research

In the same year, we published the results of a significant sector-wide research project to assess how housing providers were approaching transformation and innovation activities. The operating environment has changed significantly, even since that initial research, so in August this year we re-ran the survey to assess how far the sector has moved. Nearly 50 organisations responded, and 24Housing will be publishing a report with the full results later in the year. However, they have provided the following summary preview of some of the findings:

   Drivers of Transformation

The top three drivers of transformation remain the same as 2016:
  • improving customer experience; 
  • increasing efficiency; 
  • implementation of a new corporate strategy

   Implementation & Plans

98% of organisations are planning or are currently implementing some form of transformation programme (up from 94% in 2016)
  • 90% of respondents describe themselves as either 'early adopters' or 'early majority' in terms of their approach to innovation and transformation
  • 61% describe themselves as either 'digital fashionistas' or 'digirati' in terms of their approach to digitalisation (up from 53% in 2016)
  • 89% of organisations currently have less than 40% of their customer transactions completed online

   By 2015:

  • Over 75% of organisations expect to be utilising technologies such as smart devices (remotely controlled devices, sensors and alarms), chat bots, offsite manufacturing, big data and apps as part of their core approach to service delivery
  • Over 50% of organisations see an opportunity for greater use of artificial intelligence in the delivery of services

   Slow Pace

Innovation and transformation are topics still being discussed and considered by most in the sector. However, things haven’t moved on much in the last two years. Some organisations have challenged the status quo and are truly embracing progressive approaches, but the large majority remain behind the curve compared to other sectors.


Perception is a challenge with many of those who describe themselves as part of the 'digerati' or 'innovators', using examples such as implementing a self-service portal or adopting mobile working. These are important changes to implement, but they’re not particularly innovative and should only be considered the starting point for a modern approach to delivering any service.


Of course, there are barriers in place which will slow progression (legacy IT systems, cost of investment, availability of skills etc.), but the need to change will only become stronger.

   Trends In Progress

24Housing's earlier 2016 report forecast that by 2025 we'd see greater competition for customers, radical change in customer demands and new entrants coming into the sector who would challenge the status quo. This is already happening.

   New Entrants

2018 has seen the private sector provider arriving full square on the block, and the challenge to the status quo will continue to gain pace. Unencumbered by legacy issues, these new organisations have the freedom to design and establish modern and efficient services.

   Disruption is Already in Progress

We've already seen the impact similar 'disruptor moments' have had in other sectors.
Housing's disruptor moment isn't in the future: it's already here.

   Off-Site to the Fore

Despite the many savings in waste, time and money that can be delivered, MMC and Off-Site construction have only slowly taken hold in our highly conservative industry. Resistance to change has been the norm. However, the challenges from new entrants – e.g. Chinese and Insurance Companies – coupled with changes in other areas are now beginning to bite hard. One of the fastest, easiest and most flexible ways to 'catch up' and meet these challenges is via collaborative 'Off-Site' integration to produce a win-win result.

   Better all-round Savings

Our specialist services and CUSTOM homes division deliver best value and  protect the interests of land owners, house-builder developers, professionals and private individuals seeking to build their dream home. Our off-site construction systems also reduce the amount of material that gets wasted on site, helping to avoid land fill, hazardous waste separation and handling, They also deliver better value for you and your customers.
Call us to arrange a factory visit and discuss your ideas and needs with our in-house team of professionals for your next project. You'll be glad you did!
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Some of our previous weekly insights:
We'll have more information for you next week. In the meantime, head to Build News for your daily insight into the construction industry.
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