Looking to the clouds for technology innovation

Date posted:
1st February 2021
3 minutes
clouds
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Halton Housing has long been recognised as being early adopters of digital services in the housing sector.  In the seven years since the original Digital First programme that put services directly into the hands of customers, we have made several big steps in how we deliver our services.

We have gone on the journey from the traditional data centre in our own office, to working with technology partners who virtualised our systems took some of the burden away from us.  Now we are ready to make our biggest leap to make our next generation of services a reality. We’re looking to the clouds to make it happen.

Recognising the future is in the cloud, we are implementing a cloud first strategy for all our technology innovation. We believe it will bring incredible benefits to our customers, employees and partners.

We’re really proud to be sharing some of the reasons why we believe this is the right approach for us.

Mobility & Collaboration

Here at Halton Housing we’ve had a longstanding reputation for our agile and flexible working. In 2020, we had to deal with unprecedented times. Agile working was put to the test. Our use of cloud systems for collaboration meant that we seamlessly transitioned to working from home where we could, whilst still providing critical services to our customers.  Equally our customers require access to our services from anywhere on any device and the cloud helps us deliver against that commitment.

Agility

We innovate with purpose and it is essential we are agile in our approach.  With our cloud platform we can trial new services quickly without major investment and see what works well before investing further. Not every innovation idea will succeed so it’s vital we can fail fast, adopt the learnings into our next project all without significant cost.

Scalability

The public cloud offers almost unlimited scalability.  This provides us the assurance that when we need to meet peaks in demand then we have the capacity to do so at short notice.

Security & Stability

Microsoft, Amazon and Google spend billions of dollars a year on ensuring their platforms are secure and provide the stability that every organisation needs.  Governments including the UK are adopting cloud first strategies which sees critical national infrastructure being delivered from public cloud providers.  This does not negate our own responsibilities for ensuring that our systems and data remain secure, but we have the confidence and tools available to provide assurance to our customers and partners.

Interoperability

Cloud platforms are designed and built with integration and interoperability from the outset.  This gives us a brilliant toolbox to work with.  Where integrations traditionally could take weeks or even months they can now be up and running in days, if not hours.

Environmental

As a housing association we have an obligation to deliver against the UK Governments net zero carbon targets.  We take this seriously and do not believe that our efforts are limited to the homes we provide to our customers.  We have partnered with Microsoft as our cloud solution provider who have committed to being carbon negative by 2030.  This has been an important factor in ensuring that our own operations are contributing to these targets.

Business Continuity

We take our commitment to delivering services to our customers seriously, which in some cases are critical to people’s lives.  The Microsoft cloud solution offers us a vast array of options for business continuity, ensuring our systems and data are protected in the event of a major incident.

Vendor Innovation

All cloud vendors are constantly innovating themselves and are delivering new features almost on a weekly basis.  This is turn helps us to take advantage of a constant stream of new features that will be incorporated into our transformation efforts.

Driving our Future

For us transformation is a constant but some of the areas we are excited about include Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning that will deliver in several areas:

  • Omni channel engagement – allow customers to engage with us across any channel they wish seamlessly with the ability to switch to suit their own needs.
  • Sentiment tracking – helping us to have insight on our customers satisfaction from the interactions we have every day and tailor and personalise those interactions in future.
  • Predictive analytics and data insight – become more pre-emptive in our service delivery and have confidence that we know that our investment and services are improving people’s lives.
  • Chatbots and automation – using chatbots and automation we feel that we can provide an increased service provision to our customers.

We know many other organisations are also looking to the clouds. If you are interested in talking with us, we’d love to hear from you.

For now, our journey to the cloud is well underway and we are incredibly excited for the opportunities that lie ahead.  We cannot wait to share when our new services hit the ground and begin making a difference in improving people’s lives.

Written by

Paul Croston

Paul keeps us at the forefront of digital and innovation, leading on the delivery of a refreshed IT strategy focussing on ensuring core systems are fit for the future, optimising the digital experience for customers and colleagues, managing data as a strategic asset and enabling intelligence-led decision making and a pre-emptive service model.

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