We live in digital times


by Alan Davies, FUW managing director

WE live in interesting times. And I’m not referring just to some of the global events that we are witnessing through Brexit or recent election results in the USA. No, what I’m referring to are the ways that businesses are changing through the use of technology. The world’s largest (by revenue) taxi company ‐Uber‐ owns no taxis. The world’s largest accommodation business owns no hotels (AirBnB) and the biggest retail outlets (Ebay) hold no stock. What they do have though is an absolute commitment to using technology to run their businesses as effectively and efficiently as possible. They have completely engineered the way things work and have reduced their costs hugely in doing so. Then there are the changes that governments are making in this country: in Wales the Welsh Government have moved the Basic Payment System completely online and now only produce their newsletter “Gwlad” digitally. The UK government continues to move more and more online with tax accounting set to be online by next year. Whilst the FUW cannot be compared to the scale of the operations mentioned above, we can learn a lot about how using digital technology can change the way we work and how we can reduce our costs. That is why we are currently investing in the development of digital communications to ensure that members get more useful and up‐to‐date access to services and information. Unlike governments however, we will not be “switching off” our paper messaging in the near future. But I really do believe that if we embrace digital technology we can be more effective in the delivery of information to members and also more efficient in managing our costs. There is, of course, an obstacle to the smooth progression of this throughout Wales and that is the availability of internet connections. We continue to lobby for improvement, both through fixed line broadband and also through mobile access and the president and I will be meeting Julie James AM, the Minister responsible for digital in Wales this month to discuss the critical need for “filling the gaps” in network coverage. We should not however hold back on developments, one day we will be fully connected and working digitally will be the norm. We must start to prepare for that future now.

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