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Sovereign Housing Association.

Secure, future-proof, and digitally transformed: Transitioning to a modern microservices architecture.

Sovereign Housing Association is one of the top ten largest housing associations in the United Kingdom, owning and managing 60,000 homes and working with more than 140,000 customers. Sovereign has a duty to not only provide the best service to customers, but also handle sensitive data with care. That’s why it was crucial for them to create a single, secure digital ecosystem. Sovereign worked with partner MMT Digital to transition from a monolith digital infrastructure to a flexible cloud-based, multi-services web platform.

Challenges

  • The need to provide secure, compliant web products that handle sensitive user data
  • Time-consuming, cost-ineffective content management with a monolith system
  • The need to innovate their tech stack for modern customers and use cases

Solutions

  • A unified content hub that’s secure, cost-effective, and easy to manage
  • One platform and library for content editors to work efficiently
  • A best-of-breed digital ecosystem, including Kontent.ai, Funnelback, Hotjar, SEMS, and Recite Me

Results

  • Two lightning-fast sales and corporate websites, live in less than six months
  • A completely new way for content editors to Create Once, Publish Everywhere
  • A future-proof, ready-to-scale web estate that grows with them

Customers come first at Sovereign – and their expectations continue to change and evolve. To provide the best digital customer experience, Sovereign and partner MMT Digital took on digital transformation as a key focus, modernizing their sales and corporate websites. Let’s check out how. 

Making the move from a monolithic operational system

Previously, Sovereign had websites running on the DOS (Digital Outcomes and Specialists) framework, but the sites were too slow for what was required. In addition to digital performance, they also needed to find new ways to support their digital content editors’ content workflow, including copywriting and editing, and adding or removing housing properties. The pace of their work had to match the pace of the business.

Editors create engaging copy and publish to multiple locations with Kontent's headless CMS
Editors create engaging copy and publish to multiple locations with Kontent's headless CMS

As Maxwell Lucas-Drysdale, Project Management Manager & Senior PM, MMT Digital, said: “Digital transformation was one of the goals from the very beginning of the project. The team at Sovereign wanted to make drastic changes and improve the way they work. Their dream was to move away from a monolithic operational system that was clunky, expensive, and full of features that Sovereign didn’t need.”

Completely transforming how digital creators work – with headless

MMT Digital started building two websites for Sovereign in May 2020. Within six months, the sites were up and running. “We aimed to revamp Sovereign’s whole digital ecosystem. We chose Kontent.ai because ease of use and effective content management were critical for the team at Sovereign,” said Maxwell. To maximize efficiency, MMT reused carefully crafted content models and templates across the two projects, which they were developing in parallel. 

With the user-friendly authoring experience in Kontent.ai, combined with Web Spotlight in-context web editing and discrete Collections within projects, the transition to headless for content editors was smooth. 

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Content editors work efficiently in a modular content platform

“We no longer have to manage multiple monolithic systems anymore, so the overhead has largely been removed. For our content editors, it means that they're only using one platform now, and they can create engaging, interesting copy, and publish it to multiple locations. Compared to what they had to do before – write the same article twice, work with many image libraries, and duplicate their work – having Kontent.ai has totally changed the way that our digital creatives can work,” said Sam Dart, Product Director, Sovereign Housing Association.

All content in one place, in a secure cloud-based ecosystem 

The teams at Sovereign are now using a streamlined solution that supports everything they need to do, as compared to the previous monolithic system. The cloud-based ecosystem developed by MMT Digital is not only more digitally mature, but also secure.  

“Having all of our content in one place in a single ecosystem that's borne out of the cloud is, for us, so much more cost-effective to manage. We have much greater assurance around security, and certainly, in this day and age, we need to make sure that our web products are secure. Kontent.ai really helps on that front,” said Sam.

Kontent.ai seamlessly fits into the modern tech stack that also includes:

  • SEMS (Sovereign Electronic Mapping System): SEMS is a system showing all of Sovereign’s properties, land assets, and grounds maintenance responsibilities that all 1,800 employees can access and use to support their work.
  • Funnelback: This website search tool for council websites uses advanced machine learning to deliver personalized, engaging search results.
  • Recite Me: This software creates an inclusive experience by providing accessibility and language options to enable each visitor to customize the Sovereign website in a way that works for them.
  • Hotjar: This tool visually represents where users click, move, and scroll on sites to learn what attracts attention and what gets ignored.

For Sovereign, digital transformation means being open to change and forward-thinking. So, what’s on the horizon? 

Sam shared, “For us as an organization, we’re investing in something that is future-proof, that is ready to scale. We have big ambitions, so having a web estate that grows with us – and that we know is evolving and evergreen in terms of its approach to the software – gives us a lot of reassurance around what we’re doing for the future. And our sites are lightning fast, and that’s primarily down to how we build and deploy these web solutions using the Kontent.ai platform.”

Interested in learning more? Watch the whole talk from Sovereign & MMT Digital at the Kontent Horizons conference, Creating an industry-leading digital future for Sovereign Housing.

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Having all of our content in one place in a single ecosystem that's borne out of the cloud is, for us, so much more cost-effective to manage. We have much greater assurance around security, and certainly, in this day and age, we need to make sure that our web products are secure. Kontent.ai really helps on that front.

Sam Dart, Product Director, Sovereign Housing Association

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