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20 Oct 2016

My new role as the TUC's first Chief Information Officer

I’ve recently taken on a new role in addition to running the Infobo digital consultancy.  I’ve been appointed as the first virtual Chief Information Officer at the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

It’s ‘virtual’ as it’s a part time role. I’ll be dedicating a handful of days a month to the role, but it comes at an interesting time, as changes in technology are having a huge impact on organisations.

One of the biggest changes in recent years is the rise of the ‘cloud’ and cloud services. The ‘cloud’ may be a buzzword for describing internet hosted applications, but a significant implication of these types of hosted services is increased reliability.

When software is hosted across numerous servers – the ‘cloud’ – then downtime becomes much less likely. When combined with the cost advantages of using a cloud service, as opposed to setting up hosting with your own software/hardware, there is a compelling argument for moving an organisation’s technologies to the cloud.

Email, file storage and even the network infrastructure is moving away from internal server rooms and onto the internet. Working patterns have been changing as well.

For better or worse, people are increasingly working on the go, accessing emails and applications from a plethora of different devices. This needs to be reflected in the technology organisations provide for their staff, but also in guidance and policies for staff, with a greater emphasis on data security.

With a greater amount of information held by organisations than ever before, knowing where that information is stored and how it is collected, updated and managed has never been more important.

Hacking and online attacks are very real dangers now, and with much tougher Data Protection laws coming into play in 2017, getting on top of information processes and embedding best practice are essential.

One challenge I hope to help with in my new role is the ongoing battle to help unions use technology as effectively as possible. Poor use of and understanding of technology in the union movement has long been an issue.

While there are great things being done in places, it’s fair to say that this weakness has affected strategic decision-making in the movement. As well as improving day-to-day use of technology, I’m particularly keen to see technology become a key part of innovations to tackle the long-term decline in union membership.

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