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‘More than just tech’: Innovation with Purpose

4 minute read
Posted: 2nd September 2020

Innovation means different things to different people. It is perhaps most associated with new technology, but it can also mean devising new processes, new approaches to marketing or brand positioning, or perhaps changing ways of working. 

Innovation also comes in lots of different shapes and sizes. Often branded as ‘continuous improvement’, incremental innovation is a common but often very effective way of improving efficiency and service delivery without significant risk or disruption to the business. Making modest changes to existing technology, for example to enhance the customer experience, can have a significant impact on how people can access services helping those that juggle childcare with multiple part time jobs or just making life that bit easier. Whilst incremental change doesn’t have the same profile or impact as transformational change, it can be an invaluable way to keep refining and improving services without the price tag of a major change programme. It can also help develop a culture of creativity, challenging the norm and seeing results more quickly. 

The terms ‘disruption’ or ‘transformation’ in the context of innovation have been around for a while now. Disruptive or transformational innovation is sometimes described as being simultaneously both creative and destructive. This is because the new technology, services, approaches or products can make the existing offer all but obsolete.  

Disruption can also apply to the way we work. The recent pandemic has forced many of us to rethink where, when, and how people work. At Halton Housing we have been working in an agile way for many years but for many companies the concept of people working from home was just not on the radar. How can you manage people if you can’t see them…? But needs must and thousands of people have been doing just that and the concept of paying vast sums for office space to accommodate all your staff at the same time in the same place is now coming under the spotlight.  

Housing has seen many innovations over recent years. digital services, virtual viewings, agile working to name but a few. And there is so much more going on across the sector including how we can make our homes more energy efficient and reduce our carbon footprint. 

Innovation can be seen as a bit niche; not core business and a cost we could do without. But technology, customer expectations and legislation are all changing rapidly and to keep pace, we need to be thinking ahead. 

For us innovation must have a purpose – a business problem to solve or a customer need to meet and must add real value.  At Halton Housing our approach is to embed innovation into everything we do. Whilst we will continue to build our digital service offer, we are extending our approach to innovation more widely This includes looking at how we engage and maintain the wellbeing of our teams, how we manage our homes and how we provide better services to our customers. 

We have recently launched an innovation section our website – showcasing our approach to innovation, and the work we have been doing with universities and other key stakeholders on several projects.

We know many other people are working on the same issues so we will also be setting up sessions to share ideas. If you are interested in talking with us, we’d love to hear from you. 

Sharing our Work:

Over the coming months we’ll be speaking, or presenting at a number of conferences and events, sharing our innovation work with partners.  Check out the list below and where possible, book on to find out more!

  • SEEDS Conference – 2 Sept 2020 – Lead Innovator, Lee Reevell speaking on “Strategic Management of Assets & Compliance through the Application of BIM and Digital Twins: A Platform for Innovation in Building Management” – More
  • CIH Virtual Festival (7 Sept 2020) – Chief Executive, Liz Haworth speaking on “Embedding a Culture of Innovation and Customer-centricity” – More.
  • Northern Housing Consortium’s #OurNorth Net Zero Webinar Series (16th Sept) – Lead Innovator, Lee Reevell speaking on “Understanding Your Stock – Asset Management & Energy Efficiency” – More
  • Housing Technology Conference (March 2021) – Lee Reevell and Paul Croston – Title tbc.
  • Annex 71 Summit (Spring 2021) – Innovation Team, Lee Reevell and Gavin Roberts – SMETER project.
Written By

Debbie Trust-Dickinson

Chief Transformation Officer

Debbie oversees the next iteration of our digital offer, creating the IT infrastructure required to support the future needs of the business, developing and strengthening brand and reputation, and driving the organisation’s people strategy with a focus on leadership, talent, wellbeing and culture.

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