Navigating the complex technological landscape is integral for housing associations to stay competitive and responsive to the needs of their constituents. With the accelerated digital transformation across all sectors, 2024 presents a pivotal year for IT leaders to stay ahead of the curve. Housing associations must carefully balance digital advancement and stakeholder demands with tight budgets. In this blog, we’ll explore key IT priorities that can not only boost efficiency and security but can also transform operations to meet the challenges of the future head-on.
Preparing for Generative AI
Generative AI (GenAI) has seen rapid development in 2023, becoming an undisputed tech breakthrough and this trend is expected to continue into 2024. According to Gartner by 2026, over 80% of enterprises will have used or deployed GenAI APIs/Apps, indicating that adoption rates are set to increase significantly.
Generative AI holds immense potential to revolutionise various aspects of organisations. For housing associations, GenAI could automate the generation of lease agreements, tailored to each tenant's unique situation, thus reducing the workload of staff and minimising errors. GenAI could also be used to predict maintenance needs based on historical data, enabling proactive property management and potentially saving significant costs. Additionally, it could facilitate better resident service by automating responses to common inquiries, freeing up staff to focus on more complex issues. Overall, GenAI provides opportunities for increased efficiency, cost savings, and improved service delivery in housing associations.
Preparing for the integration of GenAI requires a strategic approach from IT leaders. First, they need to stay abreast of any regulatory changes in the field. As GenAI continues to evolve, it's likely to attract increased scrutiny from regulators, and understanding these regulations will be crucial to ensure compliance. Second, security considerations are vital. Given the data-driven nature of GenAI, robust cyber security measures must be put in place to protect sensitive information. This includes implementing secure data storage solutions, regular system audits, and employee training on data security.
Additionally, ethical considerations should not be overlooked, as the use of AI can raise issues around privacy and bias. It's therefore important to establish clear ethical guidelines for GenAI use. Lastly, investing in education and training is key. Ensuring that IT staff have the necessary skills to implement and manage GenAI systems will be crucial to making the most of this technology.
Strengthening Cyber Security
Throughout 2023, cyber-attacks have become increasingly common across both public and private sectors, with incidents such as ransomware attacks, data breaches, and IT disruptions becoming the new norm. Cyber-crime is predicted to cost the world $9.5 trillion in 2024, and it's projected that 80% of these attacks will leverage identity-based techniques.
For IT leaders in housing associations, these statistics underscore the urgent need for robust cyber defences. Given that housing associations manage sensitive tenant data, they are particularly vulnerable to these attacks. Ensuring strong defences is not only crucial for protecting this data but also for maintaining trust with tenants.
There are several steps organisations should take to strengthen their security posture. Embracing a multi-layered security approach is crucial to protecting your network. This involves using a combination of firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and end-to-end encryption. Regular staff training and awareness programmes are also key. Employees often represent the weakest link in cyber security, so educating them about common cyber threats and how to identify and avoid them can significantly reduce the risk of incidents.
Organisations should also ensure they conduct regular audits to identify potential vulnerabilities and ensure their cyber-security teams have access to the latest training and technology to detect and prevent new threats.
Having a robust disaster recovery plan in place is also essential. Despite best efforts, breaches can still occur, so it's important to have a plan for responding quickly and effectively to minimise damage and downtime. This should include steps for identifying the breach, isolating affected systems, repairing damage, and notifying any affected parties.
Given the sophistication of threats today, including the risks associated with AI and the high level of resources required to constantly monitor threats and keep systems updated with security protocols, organisations may look to work with a Managed Service Provider (MSP) who can lift this burden and deploy advanced tools to safeguard your business, with round-the-clock protection.
Getting the Most out of IT Providers
As businesses increasingly rely on multiple service providers to meet their IT needs, managing these relationships effectively becomes can be overwhelming. However, effective alignment and collaboration with your service partners can significantly enhance your IT ecosystem, leading to improved efficiency and innovation. Properly managing IT providers is essential for organisations to ensure that their IT services are performing optimally, delivering value, and aligned with the organisation's objectives. This alignment allows for better coordination, reduces redundancy, and ensures that all IT activities support the strategic goals of the organisation.
However in a complex environment where resources are often stretched thin, managing multiple vendors can lead to communication gaps, inconsistencies in service, and a lack of overall control.
To overcome these challenges, organisations can work with a Service Integrator who designs an approach aligned with the Service Integration and Management (SIAM) framework. The service integrator is involved in a multitude of tasks such as defining the roles and responsibilities of each service provider, facilitating effective communication between all parties, and overseeing the delivery of services to ensure they meet the agreed upon standards and expectations. In essence, the service integrator acts as the organisation's representative, safeguarding its interests and ensuring that every service provider is working towards the shared goal of meeting the organisation's business needs.
Overcoming In-House Limitations
Delivering robust and sophisticated IT solutions in-house can often be a daunting task, especially for housing associations with limited teams and skill sets. In-house IT departments may face a range of challenges, including resource constraints, difficulties in scaling services to meet demand, and the need to stay up-to-date with rapidly evolving technologies. These limitations can hinder the ability to address complex IT issues effectively and may result in suboptimal performance or security vulnerabilities.
Outsourcing to a Managed Service Provider (MSP) can be a good solution. MSPs bring specialised expertise and dedicated resources to the table, enabling housing associations to leverage advanced technologies and industry best practices without the overhead of recruiting and training specialist staff. With an MSP, housing associations can access a wider pool of expert IT skills, enjoy scalable solutions that grow with their needs, and benefit from proactive monitoring and management of their IT infrastructure. This partnership allows for a more strategic focus on core organisational goals, while the MSP handles the complexities of IT operations, maintenance, and security.
Advanced have over 30 years' experience helping organisitions overcome key challenges, lifting the burden from internal teams and helping them become future ready. Learn more about our IT Services for Housing Associations or get in touch today to learn how we can help your organisation thrive.