Coronavirus Third Sector Information Hub

Getting to grips with flexible technology

By John Fitzgerald on 22nd Jan 2020

At SCVO Digital, we’ve encouraged lots of charities to make more use of ‘flexible technology’. But what on earth is it, and how can it help charities work more effectively? 

First of all, it’s not about foldable phones, which are not much use to anyone at the moment

What we mean by flexible technology is using digital tools to collaborate in real-time with members of your team, wherever they are, on a wide range of devices. For example, two or three team members simultaneously editing a report during a video chat. Or using online forms on a smartphone to capture data directly to a database. 

Perhaps that sounds like a distant dream? 

Just think about how often older IT systems can make work a headache. They work fine if you are sitting at your desk logged into your main network, and you’re happy to wait your turn to work with a file. Even worse, inflexible systems can lead team members to adopt inefficient and insecure workarounds, like file sharing services or emailing themselves copies of key files.

Although lots of charities we work with are already making use of flexible technology, many organisations are still missing out. Why aren’t all charities already switched on to flexible technology?

  • Many charities find flexible technology is not on offer from their current IT partner. If an IT provider is making revenue selling hardware, they only have a weak incentive to offer cloud-based solutions.
  • Perceived cost can be a barrier – but charities can access licences for leading cloud-based products at significant discounts, or even for free.
  • Some charities cite poor connectivity as a barrier to working in the cloud. You do need a reliable connection, but if you have enough bandwidth to stream video, you should have enough to support modern cloud-based products.
  • Some charities wonder about the security of storing their files in the cloud. But unless your office is kitted out like Fort Knox, it’s likely that moving to the cloud will actually enhance your security with security patching and remote backups happening automatically.
  • Many charities fear the disruption that might come with a change of systems
  • Some charities worry that their staff team may struggle to get used to a new system.

If you’d like to learn more about getting to grips with flexible technology, come along to our session at The Gathering on 19 February. This session will look at what can happen when organisations commit to the potential of digital and invest in becoming more flexible, agile and responsive. A panel of experts from charities and technology partners will also explore what investment is needed to reap the benefits of flexible technology.