Having systematically created a substantial digital footprint I have been brought up short this week whilst buying a house. For those of you who haven’t bought a house in a while little has changed since, well, ever. It is still very much an analogue process.
I spent three hours the other night filling in forms for the solicitors and the mortgage company. The information was the same on both sets of forms but presented slightly differently. The problem I have come up against is something of a clash between the digital way in which I live my life (we haven’t got any original utility bills, for example) and the analogue expectations of the solicitor and mortgage company (utility bills are required to prove residency).
Fortunately I am dealing with real people (who are great by the way) so am able to explain what we can and can’t provide. My conclusion is that analogue is just about able to cope with small numbers of analogue transitions at a local level but it just won’t scale to deliver anything resembling a quality service. Digital on the other hand does scale.
At the moment my great big digital footprint is being wasted – a utility bill is easily doctored yet my digital life is so complex it would be difficult to fake. No one really wants to see a return to the bad old days of rash mortgage lending. However if better use was made of the digital trails we all leave then more sophisticated lending decisions could be made which would allow more people to get mortgages, which in turn will stimulate the housing market and drive the demand for new houses.
I know it probably isn’t that simple but the technology exists for the mortgage / legal profession to make the transition to digital. The clever players will retain the ‘assisted‘ elements of their services but do the admin in a much more efficient manner, supported by digitally driven decision support. They could all learn from the likes of John Lewis whose assisted digital retail business model is allowing them to relentlessly pull away from the competition. So come on high street lawyers, throw away those forms and re-think your (digital) world.