How high is IT on your risk register?

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mark_sweenyI was recently at the Housing Technology Conference 2015, which pretty much does what it says on the tin; it’s a good networking and information-sharing event for all of those involved in the provision and delivery of information technology and services to the social housing sector. So, in that sense, it was unsurprising that the vast majority of the delegates and attendees were either IT systems professionals from the sector or suppliers to the sector. (The fact that the gender mix of that group was worthy of comment on at least two occasions from the platform is probably a story for another article. However, moving on…)

What was slightly surprising was the lack of the end customer of all the technologies and systems – the Operations Directors, Asset Management Directors, and Finance Directors et al. Why am I surprised? Well, there are two main reasons.

Strategic imperative
OK. For all of you non-IT people out there I’d like you to close your eyes and think about any of your organisation’s strategies. It could be the main corporate strategy, or customer services, asset management – any of the key ones will do – but it should be one that is fundamental to the success of the organisation. Got it? Good; hold that thought.

Now, whilst you have that strategy clear in your mind, I’d like you to reflect on the following statement – “good information technology, systems and processes are fundamental to the success of this strategy”. If there is a strategy in a modern organisation for which that statement doesn’t hold true then I would really, really like to hear about it.

In an era where quality of execution is becoming a strategic differentiator, is the technology that is fundamental to the success of your strategy and your organisation (and awareness of its potential) something that can be left to others? That’s a lot of pressure for your IT Director or Head of IT.

Regulatory compliance
The regulator is getting increasingly tetchy about poor quality data coming out of social housing organisations, and rightly so. The real question therefore becomes – how are boards and executives assuring themselves that the information they see and use to manage and steer their organisation is, to put it its simplest, right? If the board does not have a clear assurance framework for the data (and one that has been tested) in their organisation then it really needs to go near the top of the risk register and somebody senior needs to be getting to know people who understand data and information governance – and the Housing Technology conference might not be a bad place to start.

Altair provides strategic IT consultancy services for housing sector clients across the UK and Ireland. If you would like to find out more, please contact Mark Sweeny: mark.sweeny@nullaltairltd.co.uk or 07887 512165.