I THINK WE get this and understand it at a high level. It’s the implications, opportunities and risks where we seem to be less certain or where we have been complacent in the past. Other things seem to have been more important and maybe they have been. There is little point in analysing the past because where we are now is behind the pace in minor league play. We need to make our move.
In terms of implications we can’t underestimate the level of sophistication required to create a digital experience that works on different levels and in different ways with different audiences. When we say website, it gives the impression of a singularity a ‘one thing’ that holds information to search and look at. That might have been the case some years ago but now the good websites are highly customised to the individual. They have become more than websites and have transformed into virtual space where people communicate, engage and collaborate. Also, they are personalised and social.
The implications are that we have to restrain ourselves from making our site an expression of processes; a reflection of the ADASS bureaucracy explaining to the public and members the myriad national, regional and policy group activity. Furthermore the site ought not to be focused on expressing itself as a repository of dense reports and pdfs, and stuff that is only of importance to some audiences. We need to communicate, target the message and be increasingly imaginative about doing so.
This presents an opportunity to promote ADASS as one organisation and to bring that about by using the power of the digital platform to support regions, groups and individual members to work together in the background, in member space.
Following the 2014 spring seminar we surveyed the views of members and produced a report with recommendations on how to take the website to a new level. Fabulously titled the ADASS Website Development Report and replete with 23 recommendations we now have a template and “straw man” to challenge, be challenged by, and encourage us to step headlong online and into the 21st century.
As a result a couple of things are happening to take the situation forward. Terry Dafter, DASS at Stockport, is set to be our digital champion and to coincide with the NCASC conference we have refreshed the site as a first step to bringing about the beginnings of a new experience. A process of governance for the web platform will be drawn together from a group of member representatives across the organisation. This will ensure we take account of national, regional, policy and individual requirements in an ongoing way so that the experience for all evolves.
There will be a strengthened capacity within the ADASS Central Office to ensure oversight and support for a more developed content strategy.
On top of all this is the opportunity for members to become more involved. We expect to roll out function and capacity for members to work together online. This will take the form of individual accounts and space for groups to conduct projects, hold conversations, have virtual meetings and produce work.
We also have an opportunity to think about how to monetise elements of ADASS and to derive income so that at the very least the web platform is funded into the future. I personally think the opportunity is greater than that:
Our survey produced the view that developing income capacity should prioritise ADASS over the wants of any individual. That accepted, we are at the gates of being able to think about who can be a member, type of member and extension of membership. We can also consider how ADASS could benefit financially from support to members in career development, through coaching and job opportunity for example. Mentioning the commercial opportunity will no doubt create debate and possibly division. ADASS, like any organisation amid austerity, is not immune from having to consider improving income opportunities. 
The risks with going digital strike in a number of places. First of all within and across ADASS we need to engage with each other online and be prepared to participate. Our survey produced a 30 per cent response rate among the membership. This is good in survey terms but I was a bit concerned that so many didn’t engage. Maybe that’s just surveys having to compete for attention in busy inboxes. Although I sense there is still a view across some members that operating on a website, commenting on articles, posting news, collaborating on documents and shared project tools is a bit too futuristic and consequently they feel ill-equipped to participate.
Whatever the challenge is with regard to upping our game digitally, we need to meet it with personal input, learning and growth together.
Going digital and interactive means that others get to play. This can be anyone: public, stakeholder, family, politician, press. The outputs of our work together may be published to become news and comment. This opens the opportunity for dialogue. At one level managing activity for ADASS will be carried out centrally and through those authorised to do so. Increasingly regions and groups ought to be commenting for ADASS on local issues and about world and national matters in a local context. Proceeding in this direction will make ADASS relevant and better understood at a local level.
One of the brilliant things about ADASS is that we have a unique perspective on adult social care. It’s a compelling offer. We have a mountain of information and knowledge but at this point it is often impenetrable, sometimes duplicated and lost between us. Our new platform presents an opportunity to place information into one place so that we can create better intelligence and understanding between us and for others. This will take some time and discipline to achieve. We will need to resist the temptation to create further separate repositories and websites in regions and across groups. Some have had to be developed out of necessity over time and in lieu of a functioning system. Now that we have the digital capacity, we need to work together to engineer our collective effort and wisdom in One ADASS.
This is not an argument for a totalitarian system, nor is it about muting regional and policy activity. Quite the opposite. Behind the scenes, in member space, our grouping together and collaboration should thrive. It should be less about web pages for regions or groups and more about engagement across subject matters, projects, discussions and movements. All carried out by groups and regions but funnelled into visibility in engaging ways: news, comment, blog, report, tweet, video.
Our next steps will be about prioritising and costing the implications of the report’s recommendations. We will be bringing the governance into place. A uniformity to design and practice for publishing will be created and as with this edition of Futures Magazine, more things will be done online. Straight away our weekly ADASS Bulletin will be an online experience.
Finally there is a comment field below for feedback on this article. Let’s hear what you think. 
Stephen Sloss

 “We absolutely need to have an online presence fit for the 21st Century.” - David Pearson President
“It’s exciting to see the possibility of a new website helping members work together online, save time and trouble travelling to meetings and to work efficiently across the country.” - Harold Bodmer ADASS Regions Lead
“A powerful web platform should be able to serve ADASS, its members and help us to generate income to help us grow as an influential organisation." - Ray James Vice President
“We need to ensure there is an online and coherent expression of ADASS that helps our members, partners and the public connect with our leadership of social care." - Terry Dafter ADASS Digital Champion 

"The ADASS website should be the go to place to get an ADASS steer on policy on anything, and an essential resource to help Policy Networks work in a virtual way.” - Sarah Norman, ADAS Policy Lead

Stephen Sloss
Associate member