Guest Blog: The Housing Association Digital Forum wants new members

Karl Dickman, Product Manager at Home Group, explains why he set up the Housing Association Digital Forum and how already it’s been a great success.

I started the Housing Association Digital Forum in September 2018 with the first participants invited from the North East, and Yorkshire and Humber.

I set it up, primarily, because I was fed up of spending hours travelling to London, often requiring overnight stays, to attend conferences where all I heard were speakers telling me how amazing their digital journey had been. I’d never hear of any failures, nor get the chance to ask speakers questions. I wouldn’t learn much more than I could have from googling their company and looking at news about their digital transformation.

With 12 years’ experience in the digital sector I knew there were many failures we weren’t being told about.  It got me to wonder how many organisations who went to these conferences were about to embark on their own journey thinking that nothing would go wrong? Additionally, how many people were in the crowd trying to understand where others had made the same mistakes, and how to learn from them?

From that, the Housing Association Digital Forum was born.

The premise was simple. This was an open and honest forum where people involved in their own companies’ digital programmes could attend. It’s essential to collaborate and share knowledge. So, badges come off at the door, and all ideas and comments are respected.

With help from National Housing Federation we organised the first forum, and the feedback we’ve had so far has been excellent. There have been lots of candid and open conversations about when mistakes have been made, and what happened to recover it.

We’re now looking to expand the forum – we want more members from the North East, and Yorkshire and Humber, and we’re opening it up to members in the North West with the help of the Northern Housing Consortium. A Housing Association in London is now looking to set up a similar forum which is great.

The next forum will take place on Friday 29 March 2019 between 1pm and 4pm at the offices of Thirteen Group, Hudson Quay, Middlesbrough.  The suggested topics for the next forum are “How do we know we’re building the right thing?”, the need for a digital strategy and what this looks like” and “Digital skills for customers and colleagues”.

You don’t need to be in a digital role to take part in the Forum – this is open to anyone involved in new projects. To register your interest for the next meeting, please contact