Death of the dashboard?

A few years ago I spoke about the ‘death of the report’. Now, with UK housing data strategies becoming more sophisticated, I wonder if the ‘death of the dashboard’ is imminent.

Data strategies and associated governance models are critical to any company, not just in social housing. A dashboard is the gateway to specific information, perhaps; but like reports used to be, it’s becoming more of a repository for someone simply wanting a quick answer. That is not a bad thing, but in itself it does not solve many problems we face.

So, reports and dashboards may provide you with an answer or two, and a quick fix. But do they give you solutions to a problem, do they identify where problems lie or indeed what the problem is? I don’t think so, not in their entirety. They hint, they tease and they sound good don’t they: ‘Let’s look at our dashboard’.

I’m not ganging up on the dashboard, so please don’t call me out for ‘dashboardism’, or ‘anti-dash’. I’m not against them. I just think we can do better in designing them. In fact, I know we can do better.

Data strategies: a golden opportunity?

What if we focused on the art of the possible and how data can solve problems, even the ones you don’t know about? Imagine that. Imagine the ability to proactively look at data as an asset you can turn into gold.

There are many ways you can do this. For example:

  • Anomaly detection – where you spot a significant anomaly in the data that needs action. This could be crucial in maintenance, rents, arrears, voids and more; and in many cases, #ukhousing teams have access to real-time data
  • Demand and capacity planning – when you use internal and external data to predict demand and convert to capacity requirements. Repairs and development are two areas that spring to mind, but there could be many more
  • Scenario and outcomes predictions – or crystal ball gazing. Data can help you test what might happen if you do x instead of y, or choose ‘this’ instead of ‘that’
  • Pattern recognition – where you look for significant patterns in raw data. ASB, complaints or any landlord service where information is collected – this is a chance to see what’s going on, and then do something about it
  • Predictive asset maintenance – want to predict when an asset will fail or need maintenance? Data can be your friend here – saving you time and money and protecting your reputation
  • Prescriptive modelling/action – this allows identification of optimal system inputs to generate desired outcomes. So, if you can work out the best starting point, you can aim towards a desired solution
  • Causal analysis – data can show possible ’cause and effect’ and correlation relationships. This approach can be used in neighbourhood management, anti-social behaviour (ASB), arrears and so on. For example, if you are building a case in ASB, you can stretch across multiple cases to see the cause and then detect the actual effects. Basically, if you know the cause and have hard evidence to back this up, you’ve got the tools to do something about it
  • Data structuring – you can convert unstructured and semi-structured data (such as paper, images, audio or spreadsheets) to structured and usable data, using techniques such as Natural Language Processing and Computer Vision. It’s not rocket science, it’s data science and data engineering. With structured data you have the ability to see further, to understand more and to find the answers quicker.

These are just some techniques you can use to bring value to bring value to your data. There are many more. Your systems, and the right technical know-how, can play a fundamental part in helping you to:

  1. Deliver more efficiency and more agility through data
  2. Unlock the value of the data in your housing systems and applications
  3. Make more informed and calculated decisions based on insight and information
  4. Do things faster, easier and costing less. Really!

Want to learn more?

If you’d like to discover how data can help you unearth secret problems, find answers or solutions and provide even more effective and aligned services to tenants – please contact us today.

You have the raw data, so let’s turn it into gold!

Further reading

Data strategy and governance services

Data improvement services