Why digital transformation in housing is so tricky

According to a survey carried out by Inside Housing digital transformation is gaining traction in the housing sector, with 98% of responders confirming that they are either in the process or preparing to implement a digital strategy. As the cost of housing and management of inventory continue to dominate headlines, public and private sector housing providers are looking for ways to cut costs and improve efficiency using technology.   

Technology plays a key role in cost reduction initiatives, and Housing Providers keen to implement digital solutions face multiple challenges in their digital transformation journey. 

What are the main barriers holding back your digital transformation plans?

Bar graph highlighting the main barriers holding back you digital transformation plans

Inside Housing reveals that the top three barriers to digital transformation within the Housing Sector are: shortage of resource to deliver projects due to BAU pressures, a lack of robust data making it difficult to justify investment proposals and a lack of digital skills & change capability. 

1. Resource to deliver digital projects

A complex digital transformation implementation project can take a few years to complete, and internal teams might struggle to balance project commitments with BAU pressures.  

When resourcing a programme or project, especially major works, project success is directly linked to the capability and capacity of the programme and project teams. To ensure the success of your project, you might consider working in collaboration with a consultancy specialised in digital transformation delivery to help you reduce the burden on your teams and help you deliver your project in the most effective and efficient way possible. 

You will need to work on the assumption that there will be a level of churn and flux and ensure you consider cover and succession planning to help smooth resourcing levels.  

2. Lack of data to provide accurate cost / benefits 

Technology can cost a pretty penny, and Housing Providers tend to lack robust data and evidence to support investment decisions.  

The harsh reality is that digital transformation is costly, and Housing Providers must be willing to spend in the process in order to be leaders and set the standards for digital projects. By 2025, the global yearly spend on digital transformation projects is estimated to exceed £2 trillion (IDC, 2021).  

Sometimes the issue is a genuine lack of capital, while other times there is a lack of confidence from senior management to invest in digital transformation initiatives 

Often it can be just that the current processes and ways of working have not been baselined and it is therefore impossible to demonstrate improvement and ROI. Spending a little time to understand the key performance metrics, will go a long way in creating a robust business case. 

Housing Providers should think about whether they are unable to support digital projects or if they are simply being too cautious with their spending. If this is the case, Housing Providers must adapt, since those who do not invest in innovation risk falling behind and losing market share.  

3. Lacking internal change capability

Digital transformation represents a change across an entire organisation and its people. Digital transformation will require changes to technology, ways of working, people, and behaviours and this is not always easy to achieve. Often the responsibility for the successful change is just tagged to someone’s job without any structured training, development, and support. And it is not a surprise that lack of change capability comes out as one of the main blockers.    

Housing Providers therefore need to ensure they have the capability to manage change, whether it’s rolling out completely new technology, or simply upgrading their current infrastructure. According to a survey conducted by Harvard Business Review, just under half of the senior executives interviewed mentioned an inability to do so presented a real challenge for their digital transformation initiatives. 

Across the board, approximately 70% of digital transformation initiatives fail because leadership fails to acknowledge that Digital Transformation is about people (Forbes, 2019).  

To ensure success Housing Providers must engage change management experts to rethink how their teams work together across their organisations and apply a modern approach to work with new systems and models, enabled by the right tools. 

Nine Feet Tall is a consultancy specialised in delivering complex change projects and can help bridge your change capability gap for the duration of your project and build change capability within your teams to maintain and support further development. Get in touch with our experts today. 


International Data Corporation (IDC): https://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS48372321 

Harvard Business Review (HBR): https://hbr.org/2021/07/how-good-is-your-company-at-change  

Inside Housing: https://www.insidehousing.co.uk/sponsored/sponsored/what-housing-providers-say-are-their-main-challenges-to-carrying-out-digital-transformation-plans  

Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2018/03/13/why-digital-transformations-fail-closing-the-900-billion-hole-in-enterprise-strategy/?sh=7c50c0327b8b 


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