I’ve been talking to digital leads in a lot of our affiliated unions over the last few months about our different experiences during lockdown. There have been a number of factors that shaped how quickly unions were able to respond to losing access to offices, but one of those that stands out for me was the extent to which they had moved infrastructure and software to the cloud prior to the pandemic.
“The cloud” can be a pretty nebulous term (pun obviously intended), with cloud-based options for many different aspects of IT, and different approaches, all complete with their own jargon.
That’s something we’ve set out to tackle with our latest report: “Modernising IT infrastructure for trade unions“. We wanted to make a primer for non-technical managers and lay leaders across the movement on what current trends in IT infrastructure mean, and what they could mean for the special challenges and structures of working in trade unions.
With so many unions at different stages of their journeys into the cloud, we’re really interested to hear what’s working for you, and the approaches you’ve been taking. Please do get in touch with your thoughts.
So far, many have told us about the immediate benefits they have seen from moving to shared storage, remote access to office software, and video calling. Others have gone further, with implementation of collaboration features to increase productivity, or integration between different cloud services to create new workflows to suit their unions’ processes.
Some have been primarily looking to save costs and work by reducing in house infrastructure needs. Others have been considering how flexibility could mean much greater usage and applicability of their systems – and working out what kind of additional cost would be acceptable for those new benefits.
As heavily devolved organisations, unions could use cloud services to open up technology to their reps and activists. This huge potential to empower our people comes with particular issues around the changing nature of IT security and data protection.
There are going to be as many approaches to this as there are unions, with different circumstances, structures and resourcing situations meaning different mixes of services make sense.
Any union leadership team looking to plan an IT strategy over the coming months and years is going to have a lot to consider, and we hope this report (alongside our digital healthcheck tool) might be a useful contribution to those discussions.