There was a distinct winter chill surrounding the new Chancellor’s Autumn Statement with 'severe weather warnings ahead' by the Office of Budgetary Responsibility (OBR) as they forecast dire consequences post Brexit.
I suspect no one, not even the 'experts' really know what's in store, so it's a case of prepare for the worst, hope for the best. Much talk about 'JAM' another awful acronym describing those 'just about managing'.
This week I chaired an event in London hosted by Capita with many housing associations and local councils attending. The challenge for these organisations is to provide empathetic services to many of our neediest citizens, whilst rising to the challenge of providing the latest digital platforms; all whilst facing sizeable cuts to budgets.
The bar is raised higher as customers expect similar levels of service from housing associations as they experience from commercial retailers like Amazon or their banks and financial providers.
Dealing with unintended consequences from ill thought out party political point scoring announcements can raise alarm in customers, and result in higher demand for services, not to mention cost. And of course dealing with a complex cocktail of private and public sector owned estate, along with long supply chains for repairs, means that the potential for things to go wrong is high.
The appetite for improvement was high amongst all the delegates, interestingly many agreeing that they are simply too cautious with digital transformation, potentially missing out on big customer and employee gains.
The group was inspired by presentations from DVLA and HMRC (2016 CCA award winners) each with almost universal public demand. We agreed that whilst many smaller organisations can't instantly acquire the scale of technology required to implement big change; they can all identify those problem areas for customers and create winning business cases to get the required investments, piece by piece.
And of course they can accelerate progress by learning and avoiding mistakes made by others along the way, rather the adopting an ivory tower approach.
CCA’s network of housing associations and local government is growing, as is the thirst to learn from each other and operators in other sectors. There is a real passion to improve and innovate, and this must be good news for those who depend on their services - all customers - whatever flavour of JAM is in vogue.