IT insights: What 2019 will look like for my core sectors - Retail & Housing

IT-insights-What-2019-will-look-like-for-my-core-sectors---Retail-and-Housing
Chris O'Brien
by Chris O'Brien 21 January 2019

As you may know, I work as Business Development Manager at IT recruitment agency Crimson, and I specialise in providing the highest-quality IT contractor resources to UK organisations. Whilst I supply amazing clients across a range of industries, I have built a strong portfolio of clients across the housing and retail sectors over the last few years.

The purpose of this article is to share some insights into the IT projects my clients in these two sectors will be focusing on in 2019.

Housing

Just to clarify, my clients operating in the housing sector include house builders, housing associations, student accommodation providers, and facilities management organisations.

As we know, the UK Government has invested heavily in its Social Housing Strategy and it has committed to deliver an average of 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s, and as a result the market is currently booming.

In addition, there are increased drives for intelligent service design based on big data, and sustainability using smart systems. IoT technology is also being rolled-out to create a range of care packages and products for different customer personas. This customer-centric technology focus is great news for IT teams in the housing sector, as there are a lot of cutting-edge and meaty projects to get their teeth into.

However, this silver cloud may have a grey lining. Brexit is looming large, and some news outlets, such as The Telegraph, are reporting that 66% of property and construction research respondents felt that uncertainty around Brexit was having a negative impact on the sector, and 24% were preparing for conditions to get worse.

When it comes to my housing clients, they’re all focusing on maximising the potential of their Customer Relationship Management Systems to improve their communications with their tenants and / or their customers. I know for a fact that two of my house builder clients are currently investing heavily in their marcomms through implementations of large Microsoft Dynamics 365 solutions. Another is trying to bring about a huge digital transformation using Dynamics solutions in a bid to integrate their disparate systems and improve user adoption. I also have a housing association client and a facilities management company that are embarking on similar projects.

If you’ve heard about any other cutting-edge technology projects in the housing industry, I’d love to read about them. Please drop me a line at chris.obrien@crimson.co.uk.

Retail

It’s frequently been reported that some of the traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ retailers have struggled whilst their online-only rivals have thrived. This trend has been emerging over several years, due to changing customer behaviours, decreasing brand loyalty, and the growth of online accessibility and price comparisons. What’s more, the market experts expect this to continue in 2019.

It has been predicted that Brexit could cause the industry problems too. Independent reported research which stated that “A ‘no deal’ hard Brexit could cost the UK retail industry £7.8bn in extra tariffs”. I shall be monitoring this situation closely, throughout the year.

Nevertheless, it’s not all boom and bust. Grocery retailers are experiencing some robust growth due to inflation, and new technologies are revolutionising sales for some early adopting organisations. The Telegraph has reported that “Using AI could inject £27bn per year into the UK retail market”, which indicates there are still opportunities for growth, and that technologies and IT teams still have a huge role to play in this sector.

On the ground, most of my retail clients are remaining positive and they’re investing in a wide variety of IT projects. One of my women’s fashion clients is completely re-imagining its digital technology landscape by building bespoke systems that further tailor its in-store services to customer demand. Another, that owns hundreds of franchised convenience stores, is removing legacy intranet and CRM systems and is replacing them with Microsoft’s SharePoint and Dynamics 365. In addition, a furniture retail client is rolling out the entire Google suite across its businesses. And, another of my high street fashion clients is revolutionising its warehouse management and distribution systems across its supply chain.

I’d love to read your insights into retail technologies and the state of the market. Send me a message on the email address above to join the discussion.

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Crimson is an IT consultancy, an IT solutions provider, an IT recruitment agency, and a Microsoft Gold Partner operating across the UK.

Topics: Retail Technology, house-builders