My reflections on speaking at a Microsoft Event: Accelerating Digital Change in Housing

Get ready to explore how technology is transforming the housing sector as I reflect on the digital transformation journey of Origin Housing.

James Berger
4 min readMay 2, 2023
Bridging the Past and Future: Embracing Digital Transformation in the Housing Sector

Embracing Transformation in Housing

Join me on a journey down memory lane as I reflect on my experience speaking at a Microsoft UK Housing event in the Summer of 2020. As the former Technology Solutions Manager at Origin Housing, I witnessed first-hand how technology played a crucial role in our digital transformation journey. With our customer-centric approach, we were quick to adapt to the pandemic-induced changes in our work style and used it as an opportunity to implement new solutions to improve customer experience and streamline operations.

Since then, I’ve moved on to another housing association undergoing an organisational scale transformation. But I still look back on my time at Origin Housing with fondness and pride in what we accomplished. During the Microsoft event, I had the privilege of sharing our success story of integrating Microsoft Omnichannel and Power Virtual Agents, which made communication an essential part of our journey.

Enhancing Resident Experience

Our vision was to put residents and assets at the centre of our work, and we made significant progress towards achieving that. We introduced new ways for residents to contact us, such as via social media channels, WhatsApp for Business, a chatbot ‘Basil’ on our website, and a Live chat service. We launched an online booking service, allowing our residents to book appointments with our Income and Neighbourhood teams. We even began exploring the possibilities of Internet of Things (IoT) and ran proof of concepts for smart building management and maintenance.

Harnessing IoT for Smart Building Management

At the Microsoft event, I spoke about how IoT could enhance residents’ lives and shared an example of our pilot project at a property in Watford. Where we collected occupancy data, traffic assets, humidity, temperature, and door data using multiple sensors. It was a prime example of how technology can revolutionize asset management and integration into Dynamics Field Service.

Highlights of Accomplishments at Origin Housing

Here are some of the highlights of what we accomplished during my time at Origin Housing:

  • Introduced new ways for residents to contact us via customer services, including social media channels, WhatsApp for Business, a chatbot on our website, and a Live chat service.
  • Launched an online booking service, allowing our residents to book appointments with our Income and Neighbourhood teams.
  • Started a discovery phase of IoT and ran proof of concepts for smart building management and maintenance. Targeting Condensation, Damp and Mould.
  • Migrated our Sales and Marketing team to a new Sales CRM — iProperty Cloud by TechLabs London, built with Dynamics 365
  • Built and deployed a new Sales website.
  • Initiated a vision of 360 view of the customer and Assets.
  • Launched the roadmap for a new Asset Management solution.

The Value of Sharing

As I prepared for my first online public speaking event, a mix of nervousness and excitement washed over me. Knowing that the event would be recorded added an extra layer of pressure, as any mistakes could be replayed time and again. On top of that, I had to rely on my internet connection, which, although dependable in the past, still worried me as a potential issue during the event.

Despite these initial concerns, I thoroughly enjoyed sharing our success story and exchanging ideas with fellow professionals. The event allowed me to contribute to the collective growth of the housing sector and make numerous new connections, helping me build a wider network of professionals to collaborate with in the future.

As a Microsoft advocate and a passionate believer in the power of technology to transform the housing sector, I find immense satisfaction in speaking at events and engaging with like-minded individuals. Public speaking not only helps to spread knowledge and best practices but also fosters collaboration and innovation within the industry. I encourage others to participate in such events, as it not only enhances personal and professional growth but also drives meaningful change in the industry we all care deeply about.

Watch our journey towards digital transformation and learn how technology played a crucial role in improving customer experience and streamlining operations.

Learning from Experiences

My experience at Origin Housing taught me that digital transformation is not just about the technology but a change in the way we think about data and work. With the right approach, technology can be a powerful tool to improve customer experience, streamline operations, and create value for all stakeholders.

As I conclude my reflection on the Microsoft event and our digital transformation journey at Origin Housing, I can’t help but feel grateful for the opportunities that change has brought. We embraced disruption and used it to fuel our strategy, leadership, and culture.

The customer-centric approach, focus on technology, and agility enabled us to thrive in uncertain times and future-proof our services. As we continue to navigate the ever-changing landscape, let’s remember that adopting disruption internally as part of our values is key to adapting and succeeding in the post-COVID era.

So let’s embrace change, stay agile, and continue to innovate.

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James Berger

Senior Solutions Architect | Dynamics 365 & Power Platform | TOGAF | Scrum | Microsoft Certified | Strategic Tech Innovator