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Any watcher of the current social housing landscape of integrated solutions will have noted the growth and almost fetish (maybe we should all get out more?), around solutions delivered via browser, which has emerged of late. One particular supplier has driven the growth of this way of thinking, but overall in the last four years,
I have felt a mood shift in the sector, which has been long coming.
I have recently been working with a particular Social Housing client who has stipulated it’s ‘cloud or nothing’. I totally get it, I really do. A supplier that can reliably deliver cloud in a browser, quickly and to timescales, would be a novelty these days for integrated housing solutions, for sure. Harsh maybe, but that’s where we are at.
One sector supplier who has often been wrongly associated with big councils and (quite candidly for me to say), felt to have left their eye off the UK ball in previous years, has seriously surprised me of late. Some serious praise is deserved I think.
Key in transformation of Northgate Public Services (NPS) has been in the injection of £3.2m+ of capital and over 36,500 days of development already, plus an extra £3.3m approved to come from its acquisition by NEC of Japan , much offshore (not that that is a bad thing, as it has visibly resulted in quality releases), and has visibly ‘got stuff done’. Who else is investing that many days into making its housing solutions better?
Few suppliers in the medium to large social housing supplier zone have over £6m to spend on improving product and I know from experience, that bringing a product with modern ‘work anywhere’ technology to market, is a massive challenge, most often under-estimated by a factor of three or more. NPS’ browser approach frees up teams to support their communities, where interactions originate, escaping from the shackles of their desk. Some suppliers currently anchored in old tech or databases, are possibly fooling themselves, and reasonably never going to invest to reinvigorate legacy products.
Embracing economic cloud delivery is something that NPS has realised as being a key driver going forward. Large clients such as Wolverhampton Homes are seeing this currently as a reliable, low risk, way forward. A quarter of the customer base has already embraced the new solutions.
The tech underneath the bonnet, ticks all my boxes, restful API’s delivered in an open manner. A lot of suppliers still levy too high a charge for integration kits, NPS has really sensibly taken an approach that clients taking a hybrid strategy is cool, if they choose not to use all their offering and its complete capabilities including CRM. Why should it not be? Using perhaps MS Dynamics 365 or an alternative ERP, linked underneath to NPS housing, is possibly the best of both worlds. In many situations, it’s a most sensible way to go.
Many of those new development days have gone towards a new asset management solution.with integral Component Accounting coming soon . This is the way the sector seems to be coalescing. Better Integration trumps specialisms that only benefit your asset team’s two persons and a dog. Apologies if that sounds brutal, but I think it’s true.
Another area in NPS Housing of note is its attitude to document management. This to me is the missing link to so many systems and solutions, particularly with regard to GDPR. Clearly NPS provide their industry strength Information@work solution, providing superior links with document consumption and generation. Security and performance is no after thought, it’s clearly built in from inception, and so great to see.
Exposing those documents within staff mobile solutions is a big driver for efficiency. The NPS Housing mobile solution for assets launches in September 2019, the start of new options for users.
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Checkout the video from Northgate at CIH Manchester here.
Based on the current take up of Internet Of Things, I think NPS look to have one of the best chances of pushing this forward, for the sector.
Keep an eye on NPS. They look to me as perhaps the next surprise in UK Social Housing. Get them in your procurement, see if you are surprised too! It really is “住宅の明るい思考” or as you or I might say, “Brighter Thinking For Housing”.
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(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting www.acutanceconsulting.co.uk 07854-655009
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