Wednesday, 24 December 2008
Tuesday, 23 December 2008
On Monday I worked from home and, in a twelve hour stint, cleared the correspondence backlog. Of necessity, that involved sending a lot of e-mails. Hopefully, many of the recipients are already on holiday, or in the holiday spirit, and won’t want to trouble me with a reply before the New Year.
One of the items concerned this article challenging the third sector to lead the way in transforming public services, which, of course, we agree with and is why CITRA has joined with us, and we have linked-up with the CCitDG.
The correspondence also included our broadcast with information about the new membership structures and transitional fee arrangements, attached to which was a book offer. This was made with the very best of intentions, but it’s been pointed-out to me that there are better offers available. I don’t think we can ever guarantee that any such offers that we make cannot be beaten, but we will undertake more testing in an endeavour to ensure that future offerings do represent best value.
On Tuesday, I had meetings, in town with 2e2 and Oracle in furtherance of the consultation we are undertaking with supplier members on strategic partnerships. I hope to report on actions arising from these meetings early in the New Year.
The PSMP usage statistics are looking truly impressive, with MyNewham.mobi clocking-up over 4,000 visitors in November and well over 3,000 this month up to 17th December. Usage of our street-based kiosks appears to have halved, however, and it seems we may have a reasonable efficiency saving in sight!
I’m working tomorrow, but from home, and have a number of reports that I want to produce for the next board meeting – before Chris and I spend the evening down the Pub with our mates, and my throat hopefully improved to the point where I can drink without discomfort!
I’ll be back blogging again on 5th January. In the meantime, have a very Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
Friday, 19 December 2008
David Houston and Bernard Gudgin joined me in a meeting with Phillip Webb, Chair of the BCS Government Relations Group. Phillip explained the various ways in which the BCS works with government, providing independent, impartial advice. We agreed to share information about the ways we (Socitm & BCS) work with Government, including strategy, workshops and reports, with a view to agreement of areas in which we can partner or co-operate. We agree also, to discuss responses to government consultations with a view to bolstering feedback by presenting a united front, where appropriate.
In discussing consultation on matters such as Governance of Information and public knowledge and views on information security matters, Phillip mentioned the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) programme of themed local events – typically held in Coffee Shops (which is where the RSA started-out) and their approach to thought leadership. I always assumed the RSA was the Royal Society of Arts, and for “arty” people so, as a result of my re-education, I’ve been looking at their excellent website, and I think I’m going to apply to join. Look, for example, at Richard Watson’s lecture.
Thursday evening saw Newham ICT’s Christmas party at the Ramada Hotel on Royal Victoria Dock. Chris joined me, after a shopping trip with our daughter, Kim, in Camden Town, and we stayed over. We had a great time, and I worked at home, on Friday, which was as well for me to nurse my hangover!
Philip Littleavon got in-touch concerning Government Connect, and he explained his new plan and reorganisation to provide support for CoCo achievement. A new Core Team is being established that will dispense more prescriptive, consistent advice to authorities more efficiently. Socitm will assist with resources to provide accelerated adoption in London, with a view to then being able to make those resources available to the rest of the country. Whatever eventually transpires through funding available via the LGA/ IdeA will run in parallel with this, but I am now relieved that the proposals we discussed in September are finally going to be implemented. Philip and I will meet early in January to ensure follow-through. Although this is now happening much later than we had planned, I know that Philip is sincere in sharing my frustrations with the delays, which are not of his making.
Wednesday, 17 December 2008
I’m concerned that the full package of CoCo support planned with Government Connect has been very slow in materialising. I’m trying to enquire into the situation, and will report back here.
I was delighted to receive a comment on the Socitm President’s Blog from Afghan Citizen, today. That set me to wondering what other overseas audience we may have but, currently, the only indication of readership sources is from clicks in the President’s Blog Cloud, and there aren’t many of them! Nevertheless, they tell me that we’ve had clicks from the US, Spain, Ireland, Nepal and Ghana, as well as the UK. Maybe I’ll set-up monitoring over Christmas but, in the meantime, let us know you’re there by clicking in the Blog Cloud! (Not yet available on the Socitm.Gov.UK site but, of course, will be in the new system.)
Tuesday, 16 December 2008
There are many parallels in recent developments in SOLACE and Socitm. There included commercial development exigencies and market intelligence, international development and social responsibility, and SOLACE also has a need to modernise its systems, as we are doing, which may provide further scope for collaboration that we agreed to follow-up. All in all, we thought, a very helpful meeting.
Starting with lunch, we met in the afternoon with CIPFA officials at their offices near Charing Cross. They included Alan Edwards, the CIPFA IT panel Chair, Paul Jackson, Performance Improvement Advisor (Technology), the Director of Business Development and Assistant Director, Policy & Technical. Alan chaired our discussion, which was structured in three areas – commercial, research and policy. We agreed an initiative on review/ endorsement and co-branding of products of common interest. In the past, CIPFA and Socitm have worked very well together – particularly during the CCT (Compulsory Competitive Tendering) era – and we hope to re-establish that sort of productive relationship supporting cross-cutting matters. CIPFA colleagues agreed to consider development of guidance on sustainable funding of ICT, enabling accurate cost accounting through the various channels, recognising that these are increasingly operated through partnerships.
In the evening I attended a dinner hosted by Lord Erroll in the Attlee Room at the House of Lords to discuss the UK National Identity Scheme. Geoff Llewellyn chaired, as usual, and James Hall, CEO of the Identity and Passport Service, was the speaker. I knew many of the attendees from previous dinners, but “new faces” included Glyn Evans and David Wilde. I was impressed at the pragmatic and business-like approach that has now materialised in the Identity Card programme but a number of attendees, me included, perhaps unfairly, extended the debate to encompass pan-Government security and PR concerns.
I think I must still have been a little jet-lagged as, for a second day, I was really struggling with tiredness! I got home at midnight; Chris was still up, putting the finishing touches to Christmas decorations, which was nice to arrive home to.
Monday, 15 December 2008
The first formal Socitm Commercial Board met at Camden Town Hall. Several directors were not able to make the meeting but David Bryant, who was voted the Chair, Steve Jones, David Houston, Adrian and I had a productive meeting in which we developed the basic terms of reference and scope, and discussed priorities. Key decisions concerned how to define a “commercial” service versus a member benefit, and establishing a “Chinese Wall” between the divisions. Essentially, any service that is not part of the basic membership provision and/ or is designed to generate profits will be a commercial service, and therefore come under the remit of the commercial board. (A reminder that all profits are generated to fund existing member services and finance further developments.) The exceptions will be provision of meeting venues for routine and ad-hoc meetings, which will be treated as an administrative function.
Among the initial tasks is to develop a pro-forma for the business case to accompany any new service development proposals. We will also be gathering-in and reviewing all existing Terms of Reference for existing commercial activities, and considering our approach to the auditing of services’ efficiencies. We discussed our planned approach to investment, and shared risk and reward, and a number of potential new service developments, but agreed our first concern must be to ensure that the governance structure is fully developed and understood. An exception is the development of Business Partnerships, which some private sector members are rightly pushing us to get going.
The Member Benefits Board met while I was on holiday. I’ll aim to include a report-back from that in my New Year President’s Report.
Sunday, 14 December 2008
Tuesday, 2 December 2008
Thursday, 27 November 2008
The ALGIM Conference Welcome Plenary was held in a marquee adjacent to the part of the hotel in which the exhibition was held. Mike Manson, ALGIM’s CEO, was the Master of Ceremonies, first introducing Rick Cooper, the Mayor of Taupo, for his opening address. We international guests were introduced, and then each sponsor got up to present themselves. They were invited onto the stage in alphabetical order, and a buzzer sounded at the end of two minutes if they were still speaking. The presentations were split into two sessions, before and after the evening dinner. This worked well; the presentations were good natured, and I found them to be quite informative, although many claimed they were “only here for the beer”! During the proceedings, Mike played several amusing videos, including one of “George Bush” and “Condolesa Rice”, and the Miami Dade Police recruitment video, having called Commander June Randall (one of the international guests, and rather more petite than her title seems to suggest) up onto the stage, who took it all in good part.
On Monday, Mike Wanden, the ALGIM President, opened the formal proceedings, and there were presentations from Rod Titcombe, Chairman of New Zealand’s “Local Government Online” – a commercial organisation set-up and owned by NZ Local Authorities that develops and sells Local Government solutions – and Basil Morrison, Chairman of the Local Government Forum Board. Jim Higgins, the CEO of Local Government Online, spoke on behalf of New Zealand’s new Digital Development Council, and its plans to support the development of the country’s broadband infrastructure. During the conference, I heard many references to how far behind NZ is in broadband development, with unflattering comparisons with places like Zambia and Fiji, and I have to say that I struggled with the poor performance of the hotel “broadband” throughout our stay. Maurice Williamson, the MP whose portfolio included New Zealand ICT, until the change of Government two weeks ago, had been due to speak. From some of the comments, I’m not sure what sort of reception he would have received!
Annette Presley, who I hadn’t heard of, but is well-known in New Zealand as one of its most dynamic entrepreneur’s (and lives next to Bill Gates, apparently) was the motivational and inspirational speaker. Her rags-to-riches tale, despite adversity, with its main messages being confront your fears, learn from failure and do what you enjoy most. She did also say that her first employer (and mentor) sent her home three times to change her clothes and I couldn’t help thinking that, in spite of all that wealth, she still had rather odd dress-sense! However, I’m not exactly famed for my sartorial taste, she’s super-rich, and I’m not, and not only was her story truly inspiring, but also she now does a lot of work to help young people to realise their dreams.
James Hettrick, a US evangelist for connected communities, a former Local Government CIO who was responsible for pioneering work on broadband rollout in the city of Loma Linda, California, and founder of ISMS, was another keynote speaker. In his session – “An Economic & Feasibility Case for New Zealand Broadband Infrastructure” – among other things, he spoke about reusable plastic fibre suitable for use in pre-prepared domestic trunking, and rugged kerb-side trunking installed in slots easily cut with grinders to reduce deployment costs. He also demonstrated a “patch panel” suitable for installation in street chambers, which reduces costs by avoiding the need to terminate all the fibre pairs.
Other interesting presenters over the three days of the conference included Jan Zawadzki, CEO of Zawadzki Limited – a New Zealand based Google Business Partner – who told us that the Web is now just over 5,000 days old and, in the past few weeks, the number of web pages indexed by Google passed a trillion. I saw Anna Karin Jonbrink, a Parliamentary Advisor to the EU in Sweden, present on “Green ICT - Energy and Environment Manager” in Sweden, but here she spoke in English, so I took the opportunity to attend her session again, and now realise that her research shows that the greatest environmental impact from PCs is in use, not manufacture and disposal, which is the accepted wisdom in the UK, so I plan to put her in-touch with Catalina McGregor, who leads on Green ICT matters for the UK. I also saw Fairfax County’s Deputy County Executive, Dave Mulchany’s, excellent presentation on the use of Social Media in Local Government when I was in Atlantic City, but he presented to ALGIM via video-link from his in Washington DC office, so I attended again to see how it went. Mike Manson told me ALGIM has been doing video-link presentations for 5 years, and it showed, as the presentation was of a very high quality.
On Tuesday morning, I presented on developments in Socitm, and the Changing Role of the IT Professional, and included an overview of Newham and the opportunities it’s pursuing. One of the audience recently emigrated to NZ, having worked in Newham, so we later chatted during a boat tour of Lake Taupo that was among delegates ‘leisure options for late Tuesday afternoon. Rod Drury, a New Zealand Technologist & Entrepreneur presented on “The Role of Local Government in Broadband” on Wednesday morning. He spotted me in the audience – “oh look, there’s Richard Steel!” Newham was among the first UK customers for his product “@ftermail”, which he subsequently sold to the US company, “Quest”. Rod made the case for publicly financed broadband infrastructure development, which, of course, I agreed strongly with, since we’re doing it in Newham, but it was especially interesting hearing the case made by a capitalist! To paraphrase some of his presentation, “costs are too high for the private sector, which is interested in profit maximisation, rather than maximising public access”, and “local government should deal with the last mile”.
Tuesday night’s formal dinner, and ALGIM Innovation Award presentations, was followed by dancing to a great NZ 80’s band that got even me dancing. The conference, which included an annual light-hearted session – this year, “The Green Debate – are you ready for the Hemp Keyboard?” - finished with lunch on Wednesday, following prize-giving and a keynote from Rob Waddell, an Olympic Champion and NZ Champion Rower. Then it was time to say goodbye to many warm and generous new friends.
Sunday, 23 November 2008
We spent Friday with Jon's family and, asked what we'd like to do, we chose a drive north through the lovely countryside to relax at a hot springs spa, stopping en-route for a fish and chips lunch (wrapped the proper way - in newspaper!) In the evening, I played ten-pin bowling with Jon and Chris at Jon's local Bowling Alley. Having bragged about how good I used to be, I was roundly beaten by them both. We rounded-off the day with a curry, and were joined by friends of Jon and Jo.
After breakfast, on Saturday, we said our farewells and headed off for the Wairakei Resort, Taupo, where the ALGIM Conference was being held. We drove via Rotorua and stopped-off at the "Rainbow Springs" Nature Park and walked around its various attractions - all in or around the springs – various species of fish, birds, trees and other flora and fauna, including, of course, kiwi.
Having arrived at the Resort, and booked-into our rather nice accommodation, Chris and I joined ALGIM Committee Members and other international guests at the House Bar, from where we were taken to dinner at the Beach Brasserie at Manuels Hotel on the Taupo lake-front. Lake Taupo is the biggest inland lake in the southern hemisphere, roughly the size of Singapore, and formed less than two thousand years ago in a volcanic explosion.
On Sunday the ALGIM Team and international guests had a 9.00 start for the day's sightseeing. We viewed the Huka Falls, and the Wairakei Power Station from various vantage points. The Power Station is the second Geo-Thermal Power Station to be built in the world, in the '50s. It currently supplies around 3.5% of New Zealand's energy, but 60% of electricity in New Zealand is generated by natural resources, and projects in-hand will see 90% of energy production for the North Island in Taupo. New Zealand is a "nuclear free zone", which was a brave move, antagonising, as it did, nations like the USA which was used to parking its ships at New Zealand ports, but is no longer allowed to as it won't say whether they carry nuclear material. We then toured up the Waikato River by Jet Boat, and crossed to the Orakei Korako Thermal Park – a "prehistoric" landscape of bubbling pools, geysers and other geo-thermal wonders. We powered back up-river in the Jet Boat - powered by twin 350 Chevvy V8 engines, developing 750 bhp between them - doing some "boat acrobatics" along the way. Apparently, the Jet Boat was invented by a New Zealander, named Hamilton, who wanted to reduce his 20 minute boat journey home from work as his local pub, in those days, closed at 6.00 pm! On the way back to the resort we stopped to see the 2.00 pm opening of the Aritatia Dam on the Waikato River. A condition of its planning consent was that it should be opened four times a day so the river could follow its original course. To stand downstream of the dam, and see the empty river fill, in a matter of minutes, to a twenty foot deep raging torrent is amazing. We returned to the resort to meet ALGIM's President, Mike Wanden, over drinks prior to the Conference Opening.
Saturday, 22 November 2008
On Monday, we boarded a west-bound tram close to our hotel, and stayed-on past the Western Market, which Wan Lik had advised us would be a great way to get an overview and orient ourselves to downtown Hong Kong. I’m not completely sure where we got-off, but we walked back through the bustle of the dried-fish market that was the original business of the Island, which had mesmerised us as we passed on the tram, doing our best to capture the atmosphere in photos. We made our way back to the Star Ferry Terminal, and stopped for a beer in the sunshine, with the temperature still in the low 80’s, before crossing, again, to Kowloon and catching the subway to Mong Kok, where we spent the afternoon wondering among some of the many conjoined markets, including the Ladies, Sportswear, Flower and Bird markets. On returning to the Ferry Terminal, we took the route direct to the Causeway Bay area, rather than Central, and were exploring our way back to the Hotel when Wan Lik contacted me on my mobile to say he wanted to take us to dinner on the famous Jumbo floating restaurant. This again, was not to be missed, and we enjoyed a sumptuous Chinese meal.
I awoke at four ‘o’ clock, on Tuesday morning, and couldn’t get back to sleep, so spent a couple of hours on e-mail. Chris and I spent the day at Ocean Park. The Cable Car ride along the coastline and cliff-edge, from the entrance attractions up to the “headland” and main park, is amazing. The park is well worth a visit for the Coral Reef, Jellyfish and other aquariums, and there is the obligatory, but well done, dolphin show, as well as some thrill rides. There’s also the Giant Panda Habitat, including a pair given by China on the 10th anniversary of the transfer of sovereignty. In the evening, Chris and I dined at the hotel, and then went for a walk around the locality. It really seemed a different world, to us, with its busy street cafes amid towering tenements. Many of the apartments have seemingly home-made verandas hanging to the sides of the buildings!
On Wednesday we arose reasonably early and went for a swim and a sauna at the roof-top health club. I’ve always been afraid of heights, but it’s the first time I’ve suffered vertigo in a swimming pool! We were booked to fly to Auckland on an evening flight and decided, the previous evening to check our luggage in early at the Central Rail Terminal for the Airport service, which Wan Lik advised us we could do. In the taxi, however, on a whim I decided we’d go all the way to the Airport, reasoning that the visits we planned were all in its vicinity on Lantau Island, forgetting that we already had train tickets, and what a long way it was. The extra cost wasn’t too great, as taxis in Hong Kong are quite inexpensive, but there were no early check-in facilities at the Airport, so we also had to pay to leave our bags in the Left Luggage for most of the day. Then we caught a bus to Tung Chung and got the Cable Car to Ngong Ping, where the world’s tallest outdoor seated bronze Buddha sits atop the mountain. The Cable Car ride was long with spectacular views, and the Buddha and Po Lin Monastery were well worth the visit. From there we caught a bus down the mountain to the Tai O Fishing Village, known for its stilt houses in its main creek. Again – not to be missed, and more great photo opportunities. We caught another bus back to the Airport, and had sufficient time for a snack and a drink after collecting our luggage and checking-in for our flight.
Our first trip to Hong Kong was a fantastic experience. Apart from the incredible atmosphere of the place, one of the things that most affected me was the impact of the SARS virus. Quite a few people were still wearing respiratory masks. Hundreds died, and the outbreak turned Hong Kong into a virtual Ghost Town for 3+ weeks, which is even harder to comprehend once you’ve seen the energy and vitality of the place.
Monday, 17 November 2008
Whilst Richard is away I will be taking a personal lead in working with Rose on establishing the Membership Board, moving forward discussions on what programme of events we want as a Society, continuing the work of the NAC and making arrangements for the AGM in April. Richard still has more than 5 months of his year of office remaining however and I (along with all of the other Directors) will be supporting the work that he has been so capably leading in restructuring the Society and increasing its influence.
If we all work to move the Society forward then we have a bright future both as a members orgnaisation and a thought leader/influencer. That requires we all work in the Society's best interests whilst recognising the significant diversity of needs, views and opinions about how we progress. I look forward to working with you all as we move forward.
Friday, 14 November 2008
Further proposals will be developed based on the information discussed. We have started to think about an event to coincide with the date of Socitm’s next AGM, in April, with a probable theme around Social Responsibility, which may provide the “test bed” for a relationship.
After lunch Ken, Steve and Martin left, and Adrian and I were joined by Steve Markwell (NCC CEO) and Andy Hopkirk to discuss a broader Socitm/ NCC relationship. A number of potential areas of co-operation were identified. There’s potential for linking to the NCC’s Evaluation Centre to enhance our development of the Software Supplier Index being merged with Brent’s e-Gov Register, and there appear to be opportunities for bundling added member benefits on either side.
At the end of the afternoon, Adrian and I were joined by Steve Pennant, now of Capital Ambition (London’s RIEP), to consider its relationship with Socitm. The Capital Ambition Efficiency will comprise representatives of the various professional disciplines, including Finance, HR and ICT. ICT representation will come from a Socitm London sub-group to be known as the Socitm Transformation Group.
Steve explained his approach to ICT Strategy development. My concern is to ensure consistency with Socitm national policy and strategy developments. We need to ensure that there is adequate linkage between the Socitm (London) Transformation Group and Socitm Futures.
The emerging model is a good one, ‘though, and I hope that we can negotiate similar relationships with the other Regional Improvement & Efficiency Partnerships.
I’m off, now, to the ALGIM Conference, with a few nights in Hong Kong, en-route, followed by touring New Zealand in a Campervan, before travelling home via San Francisco. See you in mid-December!
Thursday, 13 November 2008
The Chair of the Microsoft Public Sector Software Licensing Project Board contacted me to request that I do not make any further Blog reports of the development until a deal has been concluded. I don’t think I’ve written anything that’s at all confidential or controversial, and I do believe in doing the best I can to communicate the work we are undertaking in the name of public sector colleagues. I therefore regret the decision, but will comply with the request as I don’t want to compromise my ability to represent the local public sector on the Project Board.
There were to have been GC CoCo Exemption Committee Appeal Hearings today, but they were cancelled. Great! I got to stay at home and get up-straight with correspondence and ‘phone calls.
Siemens hosted a Socitm Futures meeting at its offices in Old Bailey.
The agenda included Nicky Stewart, from the OGC, on “Supplier Management Issues” – more effective strategic procurement – developing a standard Pre-Qualification Questionnaire and “Procurement Qualification Tool”. Better working between the Public and Private Sectors, supported by a “Joint Statement of Intent” between the (public sector) SRO (Senior Responsible Officer) and SIRE (Senior Industry Responsible Executive).
The project is using a tool, developed by Siemens, for modelling Desktop cost reduction, which sounded interesting. It is benchmarking costs, using Flex as the comparator. We agreed to explore alignment of the approach that’s been developed in Socitm, and offered our support to extend public sector penetration.
Having explained his role in supporting the local public sector support to adopt the security framework developed for central government, the CESG’s Kevin Hayes then presented on the “Information Assurance Maturity Model” and the “Security Policy Framework” that’s replacing the Manual of Protective Security (and available, now, for downloading from the CESG website). The usual discussion of pan-Government security alignment and vision followed, but the meeting was very supportive of the initiative.
At my invitation, Adrian Norman and Richard Quarrell attended to present “PSIPHON” – their project to create tools to automate the creation of registers of public sector organisations’ Information Assets, and create a market in the reuse of information, satisfying the relevant EU legislation, whilst providing commercial opportunities for information owners and a single search and retrieval source for those seeking information. It was agreed to set-up a small working group to explore how Socitm should help in this venture.
In July 2005, Socitm Consulting produced a briefing on the Directive on the Reuse of Public Sector Information, which stands the test of time.
Simon Norbury attended to provide an update on Government Connect and the CoCo.
The meeting finished with lunch, following which David Hopkins kindly allowed me to work-on at Siemens’ offices until it was time for me to pop-across to Euston for my train to Chester, where I was met by Steve Hopson, and stayed with him and Sue before Tuesday’s NW Socitm Regional Meeting at Tate Liverpool, at Albert Dock.
David Hopkins has accepted an invitation to serve on the new Member Benefits Board, which I neglected to mention, last week, will be chaired by Rose Crozier.
The theme of the North-West Regional meeting was “Managing and Accessing Information”.
Cheshire’s Par Esegobona (who, I’m glad to say, later joined the Region’s Committee) presented on “Building an Information Management Roadmap” from the perspective of the Cheshire County and Districts Councils, which are being reorganised into two unitary Authorities (Cheshire East & West) which come into existence next April. That context vividly illustrated the challenges of effective information management – ensuring information is available to the right person, in the right place and at the right time. (I couldn’t help reflecting that here was another application for PSIPHON.)
Simon Norbury had planned to travel up to Liverpool the previous evening, but as his kids were unwell (Chicken Pox) elected, instead, to travel up to Liverpool in the morning, arriving in time to present his Government Connect/ CoCo update, which resulted in a lively debate, and I weighed-in with Socitm’s rationale for supporting the programme.
I presented on the changes in Socitm, following which the sponsor – NetApp – presented “Tiered Storage or not Tiered Storage – that is the question” - its storage system and approach to de-duplication of data. I was unfamiliar with the company and its products, but quickly concluded they merited further investigation.
After lunch, Professor Barry Forde, from Lancashire University, and John Barrett, from Cheshire County Council, presented “Developing a NW Regional Communications Network”, based on the joining of Cheshire’s IP Network with CLEO – “Cumbria and Lancashire Education Online”.
Finally, Mark Wheatley, from Socitm Consulting, presented on “Developing the IT Professionalism Agenda”, which included details of Aspire.
The NW Regional AGM followed. Steve Hopson stood-down as Chair, and Cheshire’s David Crowe was elected to succeed him, with John Curruthers, from the Wirral, as Vice Chair and Denise Griffiths (Cheshire) Secretary. Steve remains on the Committee which Steve Jones (another Director) has also joined.
Those of us who stayed (mainly the organisers) had the opportunity to look around the Tate Gallery after the meeting. It started well, for me, with “The Kiss” by Auguste Rodin, who I’ve always been a fan of, on the ground floor. As we wandered up through the Galleries, ‘though, there were increasing numbers of more avant garde works that I completely failed to appreciate!
I was staying with Steve and Sue for a second night and we went out to dinner at a hostelry in their village where we bumped-into Chris Guest, who is Head of Technology & Improvement at Flintshire County Council, and a Socitm Past President.
Steve and I were up early to get the train back to London to attend a Directors’ Training Course at Old Sessions House, in Farringdon. Earlier this year, the Board agreed that all its number should ensure they were fully aware of their duties and responsibilities, and we eventually found this course that (nearly) all of us could make. Directors, Steve Palmer, Steve Hopson, Steve Jones, David Bryant, David Houston, Adrian Hancock and I were joined by Pam Larsen, Secretary, and Melanie Smith, Finance.
At first I enjoyed the frequent anecdotes, but as the day wore-on I found myself resenting the time that I could have spent on other things, and I had to agree, as other Directors had already opined, that the material could have been effectively covered in half a day. Nevertheless, I learned quite a lot, and think it’s a really good discipline for Socitm to make the commitment to the proficiency of its representatives. I also had the opportunity to get some advice about some of the issues we are dealing with in the wind-up of Caboodle Solutions in Newham.
Friday, 7 November 2008
Today, I worked at home – wrote this month’s President’s Report, which should be hitting your in-boxes soon, drafted my presentation for the ALGIM Conference in New Zealand and got up-to-date with correspondence.
Since I’ll be away from the office most of next week, then off to New Zealand for the Conference and holiday until 12th December, I’ve now set my out-of-office automated response for the next five weeks!
Have a good weekend.
Thursday, 6 November 2008
The Socitm Board met today.
Steve Hopson, the Senior Vice President, had earlier advised us that, because of Local Government reorganisation in Cheshire (the county is being split in two from next April) he is unsure of whether he will be in a position to fulfil the duties of Socitm’s next President, taking-over from me in April. It was therefore suggested that Steve Palmer – the current second Vice President – should succeed me, which he has agreed with his employer, and Steve H will remain as Vice President for a further year. All subject, of course, to Member approval at our next AGM. The board supported these proposals. Whilst it shared in the personal disappointment that Steve H felt at the position in which he found himself, one of the reasons that we have three Vice Presidents is to enable us to cope with such circumstances, and the board was grateful to both Steves for their flexibility and pragmatism.
The Society’s budgetary position is continuing to improve, and there are signs that the new arrangements with Socitm Consulting are working well. David Houston presented the initial Base Budget for 2009, which has a number of important provisions supporting continued development of the Society and, for the first time, makes explicit provision for annual commitments, such as the President’s International costs(!) and office administration and training budgets.
The Business Plan for Socitm Insight was also presented. This now ensures that Insight picks-up agreed overhead costs of the Society’s support for its business, and requires a 15% revenue return to the Society. This approach is both more businesslike and fairer to Insight which, in the past, has had revenue contribution targets arbitrarily increased to help cover Society deficits!
The Board had also asked David to prepare a report back on progress made against the Affiliates recommendations (24th April, 2008). I’m very glad to say that this was extremely positive. I will provide a copy when I am certain that it has been endorsed by the affiliates (with some minor redaction of commercially sensitive information).
There was some discussion of the National Advisory Council and Socitm Futures, and of some confusion or misunderstanding of their roles. I am to write to their Chairs to clarify the position. In summary, this is that the Board runs the Socitm Business; the NAC is the primary body representing the Socitm membership, and responsible for nominating the membership of Socitm Futures - the Society’s research arm, and the body responsible for developing the Society’s policies.
We agreed to suggest to the NAC that it determines the membership’s policy priorities – probably by a survey – as we clearly don’t have the capacity to work on everything at the same time. Security, and vision thereon, is already the implicit top priority, and I would hope that will be confirmed. It’s important to note, too, that under its protocol for policy development, all policy proposals developed by Socitm Futures will also be subject to mandatory thirty days’ consultation via the Socitm website before they can be enacted by the Board.
I am also to request monthly progress updates to the Board from the NAC Chair.
At its last meeting, the NAC did ask the Board to nominate a Director responsible for Member communications. We are still in the throes of setting-up a Member Benefits Board, which will provide a natural home for such a Director but, in the meantime, we’ve agreed it’s me!
The initial report-back from the annual Socitm Conference confirms it was the most successful in a long time – in all respects, numbers attending, the exhibition, attendees’ and exhibitors’ feedback. Whilst we are, of course, delighted at that news (and congratulations, again, to the Events Team for a tremendous job) we can’t afford to rest on our laurels! The Board requested the recently appointed Events Review Working Party to present its specification of requirements, and a schedule for implementation of its recommendations, to the February meeting of the Socitm Board of Directors. Some of the considerations are – separate country conferences supporting the agenda of devolved administrations? A permanent venue for UK Conferences? Centralised support for regional events planning? Out-sourcing or partnership with other media and/ or events organisations?
A great deal of other business was covered by the Board, but perhaps the most noteworthy remaining item was that Shey Cobley, our Board Advisor until she is succeeded by Frances Kettleday, this year’s Graham Williamson Challenge winner, in April, will host a Board Workshop to consider how the Society should develop its Member Services to embrace its wider membership following the decision taken at last month’s EGM.
Wednesday, 5 November 2008
Speakers were from the DCSF on the Employee Authentication Project and the new “Gateway to Educational Services” (GES) project, and Hampshire’s Ian Cooper presented a local government perspective on Government Authentication Services, and elaborated a number of challenges for all those who are working in the field, consistent, of course, with the need to develop pan-Government security vision and strategy.
GES aims to engage parents /carers and other stakeholders through a single secure infrastructure to support all related services delivery – such as admissions, attainment, transportation, school meals, course planning and grants. A generic online Free School Meals application was used to exemplify the GES approach. I thought this a little flawed, as it still required parents to apply for Free School Meals, whereas I understand that if they are in receipt of certain benefits - Income Support, for example - their children automatically qualify and could be passported through the process.
I had planned to stay for the Management Board in the afternoon, but left Adrian to keep our end up while I returned to my hotel room to deal with some correspondence and reports, including last minute updates to tomorrow’s Socitm Board agenda, agreed at yesterday evening’s session.
In the evening I attended the Computing Awards for Excellence 2008 at the Battersea Park Events Arena – the first time I’ve been there – it’s big! Rob Brydon did a great job as the after dinner entertainment and awards presenter.
Funnily enough, my evening started in conversation with Intellect’s Charles Ward – a fellow Computing Awards judge - who introduced me to John Higgins, Intellect’s Director General, and we agreed to meet in furtherance of a closer working relationship.
Tuesday, 4 November 2008
I met James Lee, again, and his Legal Advisor, so that they could take me through the proposed contract for the PSMP before I submit it to Newham’s Legal Services for approval. Although not yet signed, its provisions, which provide Newham with a 50% share of net revenue in the borough, are now effective.
Following which, David Hopkins had asked if I would address Siemens Public Sector Management Team, at their offices in Old Bailey, on “selling to Local Government in times of uncertainty”. They got my interpretation of the environment that suppliers are now faced with, heavily laced with views of how we, with our industry partners, should be approaching issues like digital convergence and social networking.
I had arranged to stay in-town and meet-up with Adrian and David to prepare for Thursday’s Board meeting, and review the agenda and priorities going forward. We were booked-into the Bloomsbury Park Hotel, in Southampton Row, where we met in the bar and worked before and after dinner, finishing about 11.30pm.
I’ll include details of some of our discussion in the next President’s report, but it ranged over matters like succession planning, setting a budget for the Socitm office, commercial planning, marketing and incentivisation, and recharging of corporate services.
I’ve lost the link, for now, but did you read that the Prime Minister said, when commenting about the latest loss of a memory stick with some (encrypted) Government Gateway log-in credentials, that “total security cannot be guaranteed” (or words to that effect)? At last – stating the blooming obvious, but it means that we all must plan accordingly and think not just about making systems as secure as possible, but also contingency and how to respond if there is a breach.
Monday, 3 November 2008
After two days of meetings, at the end of last week, correspondence has backed-up, again. That took care of my morning.
In the afternoon, I attended the final stage of judging for the National e-Government Awards at the Cabinet Office, Admiralty Arch, with fellow judges - John Suffolk (Government CIO), Laurence West (KPMG), Paul Lankester (CE of Stratford on Avon District Council & representing Solace), Tony Singleton (Directgov), Suraj Kika (CEO of Jadu), Ray Whitehouse (Havering) and Chris Histed (Public Technology Limited) (who runs the awards).
There was surprising consensus in our judging undertaken independently online (which apparently is usual) and agreed the results for all eleven categories. I believe the shortlists will be announced on Friday. The Awards evening & black-tie dinner will be on 20th January, at the Guildhall.
Friday, 31 October 2008
This morning I attended a meeting at BERR's headquarters at One Victoria Street to review work being done in the DAP (Digital Access Provision) Forum in the ALIP (Assisted Living Innovation Platform) programme. The meeting was chaired by Richard Allan – Cisco's Head of Government Affairs UKI, and formerly MP for Sheffield Hallam. (The Liberal Democrat Party Leader, Nick Clegg, succeeded him.) The other attendees were BERR's Richard Foggie and Ian Pannell, Ranjit Bassi from the BRE and Newham's Martin Scarfe.
We also discussed the ALIP2 bid, in which Newham and Westminster are slated to run a Dementia Pilot, and of which it is hoped that Socitm will become a member. I undertook to arrange presentation of the ALIP programme at a Socitm Futures meeting, and discussion of suggested roles.
We talked about the development of converged broadband infrastructure as the enabler for widespread deployment of Assisted Living Technology, which Richard Foggie described as "the new Cathedrals". "In the middle ages, in times of recession, the powers that be built cathedrals, which kept people employed for a couple of hundred years, and revitalised the economy." I trust that our "cathedral" won't take quite so long to finish!
A number of potential related developments were also talked about, including a technology showcase and new London Technology Park, in connection with which we agreed to do some stakeholder mapping to better inform our next meeting.
After lunch I met James Lee to discuss progress in the PSMP project. The usage figures, after less than four weeks, are already at the level forecast for month five of operational running. Several other boroughs are now keen to come onboard; the other four 2012 boroughs are initially being prioritised, following which London-wide roll-out is planned, working with TfL. We discussed different potential funding models and approaches to revenue sharing, as well as new applications and looked ahead to wider UK deployment. I will be proposing that Socitm Futures also looks at this development.
Vicky (taking the place of Ken Boxhall, who is on holiday) Rob McCarthy, Managing Director of Goss Interactive, and I agreed, after some debate, the Socitm Photo Competition winners. They'll be announced on Monday.
Thursday, 30 October 2008
Our new CRM is the top development priority, so it's ready for the new membership year, starting 1st January. The CMS should be operational before the end of my Presidential year. The most resource intensive activities will be the migration of content and preparation of web-forms. I'm hoping, however, that we can get some quick wins by implementing in phases to deliver benefits like shared calendars.
Wednesday, 29 October 2008
We asked about the prolonged Gmail failure that caused such embarrassment for customers in the US. "Google has learned the lessons."
I had lunch at Spiga, in Soho, with Bryan Glick, Computing's Editor, to discuss developments in Socitm, its relationship with Computing and the way recent stories have been covered.
In the evening I dined at Shepherd's, in Marsham Street, with Graham Palmer, Intel's UK and Ireland Country Manager and some of his senior management team. Other dinner guests were the Heads of IT from Tube Lines and UK Parliament. Our discussion ranged over infrastructure development, Green IT, wireless technology, tele-health and other developments in domestic technology and entertainment.
With the number of reported data breaches continuing to grow, yesterday, the UK Information Commissioner's Office called on CEOs to ensure there are robust arrangements for maintaining data confidentiality and security.
Tuesday, 28 October 2008
Speaking of which (awards) I spent all day judging, again. Vicky has given me a hand (thanks, very much, Vicky) and I’m nearly done for these latest rounds.
Monday, 27 October 2008
I’m exhausted, and it’s only Monday! I worked on LGC and e-Gov Awards all day, interspersed with trying to stay on-top of correspondence.
Martin proposed we establish and maintain a database of best practice and case studies – that have been through some sort of process of evaluation to substantiate benefits claimed – that we can refer to / refer Members to when requests for project information and evidence arise. That seems very sensible; another for the Action List. This would have made gathering our input to the annual Transformational Government Report, which Jos and I discussed this morning, a great deal easier. In the meantime, I have a great many awards submissions that Insight could review….
Friday, 24 October 2008
Today, I worked from home, as I shall do on Monday and Tuesday – and started assessing entries for the e-Government National Awards, and the Local Government Chronicle (LGC) Awards.
Three Teleconferences, today, would have wiped my day out, had they all been meetings I had to attend, but took only about two hours in total.
The first was with Steve Palmer, Steve Hopson and Adrian concerning Socitm Membership Benefits, properly establishing the Membership Benefits Board and implementing the new membership model. Steve P. had prepared a paper with initial thoughts.
I am anxious to ensure we also reflect the benefits that come from our ability to lobby and influence - not just on behalf of individual members, but also on behalf of their employing organisations - epitomised (off the “top of my head”) in our work on the Local Public Sector CIO & CTO Councils, Government Connect, the Microsoft Software Procurement Project, the Ocean Unified Computing Subgroup, the Public Sector Infrastructure Team, the DCSF Employee Authentication Service and DCLG and CESG Security Strategy and Data Sharing Guidelines.
We agreed a few of us would work on developing the “brochure-ware”. Adrian and David Houston are working on the administration with Bernard Gudgin. The new membership fee structure will be proposed to the board on 6th November. The new CRM system will be ready in time for invoicing at the beginning of January.
After lunch my Teleconference was with the Unified Communications Subgroup of the Ocean Procurement project – on developing the Government’s vision on Unified Communications. Jim Boyle, from the HMRC, who chairs the subgroup, circulated an initial draft vision that we discussed and added to, and a further version will be circulated. I’ll publish it to Members, once agreed.
Later I teleconferenced with Andy Collett and John Sweeney from IBM on Government security. This resulted from a conversation I had at the Socitm Conference. It made me realise that we need to get the industry onboard with our lobbying for the agreement of a sensible pan-Government Vision, so I’ve now asked for this to be put on the agenda for a forthcoming Socitm/ Intellect Meeting (5th November).
Today I’ve been in-touch with both SOLACE (Society of Local Authority Chief Executives) and the CMA (Communications Management Association) who we will be meeting with to discuss how our respective organisations will work together. Unfortunately, because of existing commitments, and the fact that I shall be attending the ALGIM (New Zealand equivalent of Socitm) Conference and taking an extended holiday from 15th November to 12th December, this can’t be until mid-December, on my return.
What with those, and a few other distractions, I didn’t actually manage to review all that many Award entries, but I at least finished the week feeling I’d had a productive day!
Have a good weekend, and don’t forget the clocks go back.
Thursday, 23 October 2008
The current global financial turmoil bolsters the case for government adoption of social networks. Well, they do say it’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good!
My train was cancelled and I arrived really late for a meeting organised at Starbucks in Victoria Street, so I would be handy for a Microsoft Project Board Workshop ‘round the corner, which was cancelled, so, all in all, I had a wasted morning! I headed to Direct House and spent the rest of the day clearing correspondence.
In the evening I attended the 10th birthday celebration of “StartHere”, my favourite IT-mediated charity. There were presentations, in the Ground Floor auditorium, from Sarah Hamilton-Fairly – StartHere’s founder, Tom Hughes-Hallett – Marie Curie Cancer Care, Helen Milner – UK Online Centres, John Gillies – Citizens Advice, and Douglas Johnson-Poensegen from BT, our hosts, following which we went up to a Reception on the 34th floor. The presenters who followed Sarah all spoke of her tremendous energy and commitment, touched with a hint of madness(!) and StartHere’s consuming raison d’être, which I absolutely agree with. I hope we can now get StartHere onto the Public Sector Mobile Portal (PSMP) and will be taking this up at a meeting at the end of next week.
The motor that drives the revolving 34th floor observatory had broken-down, but the views were as spectacular as ever.
Wednesday, 22 October 2008
'...It was the first national event I have been to that I think was genuinely worth doing, an excellent couple of days and we will certainly be at the event next year'.
'...Many congratulations for a great show, we enjoyed it and again felt that the quality of attendees makes it a very worthwhile event for us to attend'.'... It turned out to be a very good event for us, with IT security being top of everyone’s agenda this year'.
'...We had a good event with plenty of interest; it's highly likely we'll be back next year'.
The first meeting of the Government Connect CoCo Exemptions Committee took place today, by Teleconference. Details are embargoed until letters go out at the end of this week, but the Committee was very pleased with the positive way Councils have engaged with the process and encouragement at the evident progress that’s been made.
Geoff invited me into a discussion with Vince Tooke and another colleague from TfL to discuss our respective Data Centre requirements and continued collaboration. Newham ICT’s initial hopes for the redevelopment of the Council’s Bridge Road Depot were dashed when the commercial offer for the land was considered far too low. However, it’s still intended to dispose of the Depot, and future Data Centre provision is still a key consideration.
I completed a Socitm President’s “Thought Leadership” piece to be included in the publication of Green ICT research by Local Government IT in Use magazine.
Shane and I had a meeting with a Steria representative at the company’s Holborn office to discuss Caboodle pension issues, and Caboodle’s final accounts. I hope to be able to report more in the near future.
Following which we met a former colleague – Steve Paxman – for a long-postponed reunion and catch-up over dinner. I got the train home and Chris, bless her cotton socks, met me at the station.
Tuesday, 21 October 2008
Adrian and I met with Steve Reynolds, Chairman, and Martin Ballard, Director, of the MDA (Mobile Data Association) at City University, in Finsbury. This was a very productive use of two hours, with agreements on sharing relationship-mapping to determine how we can best represent and support one another, MDA participation in Socitm GovX Spaces on Mobile Computing, participation in Socitm Futures and, potentially, reciprocal discounted membership fees for one another’s’ memberships. Other discussion was of joint events, the green agenda and mobile IT and public sector Case Studies. (Steve is an admirer of the Newham PSMP development.) We agreed to draft a Memorandum of Understanding as a framework for the relationship.
The MDA is organising an event, to be held on 13th November, on security relating to mobile payments, with broad representation from mobile industry stakeholders. However, the representation of public sector requirements was an obvious gap, from the Socitm perspective. Given our current focus on achievement of the GCSx CoCo, and the need to ensure that mobile data also complies with the requirements, Adrian and I suggested that Government Connect be invited to present its requirements at the event. We will try and ensure that Socitm is also effectively represented.
Back at Direct House, I had a short meeting with Martin Stobbs from Newham’s Audit Service, concerning the procurement of consultancies for the NTC project, and then was introduced to, and had a discussion with, Louise Delahoussaye, the new HP Account Manager for Newham.
In the evening I attended The Chemistry Club at Sartoria. It was a useful evening in which I got to make several new contacts, such as John Widowson, the GCHQ’s Director of Information Assurance in Government, and get up-to-date with other associates. The straight-talking John Moulton was the evening’s speaker. If I understand correctly, he predicted the financial mess we’re in when he last spoke at the Club a year ago. Anyway we were all ears for his views on where we go from here; it’s not good news, I’m afraid. Do you understand how “super senior credit default swaps” work? No, nor do AIG, or anyone else, apparently! “We need innovative bankers about as much as we want innovative pilots at the controls of our 747s.”
Monday, 20 October 2008
I see that the Government is halting flexitime reforms in response to the economic crisis, which is a pity. I can understand that the administration of such changes could represent a significant additional load, especially on hard-pressed small businesses but, in the longer term, I’m convinced flexible working arrangements will support greater efficiency.
I was interviewed, at the DCSF offices in Great Smith Street, as part of an OGC Gateway Review of the Employee Authentication Services project. This contributed to Gate 1 & 2 reviews. There were 3 reviewers (all from outside the DCSF). Once I got to the meeting (I was late being directed to it as the person I was told to ask for was on leave, and no-one had told the Reception staff I was expected) I enjoyed the discussion, which was my first experience of the OGC Gateway process – and it gave me the opportunity to expound my views about pan-Government security vision and a single Government Security infrastructure!
Since the conference, ‘though, I feel like I’ve entered one of those phases in life when one is running just to stay still – on top of which I’ve another 171 Competition entries to judge in the next week. Maybe it wasn’t such a great idea to take the weekend off!
Saturday, 18 October 2008
The latest copy of Local Government IT in Use magazine included Helen Olsen’s article, “Get it Right First Time”, which followed a survey of Councils who do not send “bounce” messages in response to misaddressed e-mails. This was prompted when Helen was frustrated when e-mails to my PA went unanswered because she got the address slightly wrong.
“This made us here at LGITU start wondering if this was ‘normal’ operations for a local authority email system. And if so, what effect could that have on citizen service – most pertinently, in relation to National Indicator 14, ‘reducing avoidable contact’.”
Helen therefore surveyed all Local Authorities, sending slightly misaddressed e-mails, to see how they responded. Sixty-four, like Newham’s, were not responded to. Newham has now changed its policy and sends bounce messages when misaddressed e-mails cannot be delivered, but the reason that it, and other Councils, previously did not is that nearly all such e-mails received are spam with randomly generated addresses. Responding to these e-mails validates the addresses and lets the Spammers know that they’ve found valid targets.
The exercise convinced Newham that it should change its policy – organising for the benefit of its customers, rather than for administrative convenience, but that got me thinking about other ways in which we can make life difficult for customers. Among my pet hates are the frequent failures, in our industry, to organise services for access online rather than by “traditional” means. Magazines, such as "Local Government IT in Use", typify this when they are produced as A4 landscape editions with print columns that mean you have to scroll up and down the page to read them. I, and I’m sure many others, generally print them to read – but that’s something we should clearly be avoiding in the names of efficiency and greenness. I asked Helen about this, and part of the answer was that people say it’s not something they want. (I do, please.) Part of the answer was to do with the extra cost that would be involved.
And there’s the rub; very often service providers are faced with decisions about convenience versus cost – in local government terms, higher Council Taxes or better services? Newham analysed the e-mails it received in one week. The results are below. (I don’t know what happened to Friday and Saturday. Presumably, the analysis was done on working days for the previous days.)
The first column in the table contains the total numbers of e-mail received. The second column contains those that are not immediately identified as Spam. The third is those that have invalid addresses, and the final column is the estimated number of those, following manual examination, that have invalid addresses, but are not deliberate spam.
Newham is just implementing the latest version of Microsoft Exchange Server that has additional functionality to improve the detection of spam, including “probing” spam, but prior to that the manual effort involved in dealing with incorrectly addressed e-mails was reckoned at one full time equivalent per day. So, does the extra cost merit the added customer convenience? I’m still not totally convinced – I can request a “read receipt” if I want to know that my e-mail has got through, but there’s nothing I can do about magazine articles that I find inconvenient to read online!
Incidentally, Socitm also publishes material online in traditional formats. We have the same considerations of cost and customer requirements as Helen. I’d be interested in your views!
Wednesday, 15 October 2008
Chris and I drove down to Newport in the Tuscan. Despite the lovely weather, we couldn't take the roof off because we had too much luggage, and there wasn't enough room in the boot to stow the roof!
At the Celtic Manor, we were booked into the "Chairman Suite". Very nice! Robin Carsberg, from the Socitm Events Committee, showed me the exhibition and conference spaces. The great thing about the Celtic Manor is its ability to accommodate a sizeable conference, exhibition and delegates at the same venue. He showed me the final figures; it was looking like a record year, with 84 exhibitors, and over 400 delegates, speakers and exhibitors booked for the formal dinner on Monday night.
At six, Sue and Cindi from the US, and Arend & Robin from Holland, together with Peter & Linda Ryder, joined us in our suite for pre-dinner drinks. Thorbjorn and Christian, from Sweden, were arriving late. Dinner was in the Conwy Room with the Events Team. Ken Boxhall said a few words of welcome and thanks to the Team for their efforts and work to come in the next few days! We then adjourned to Merlin's Bar for drinks, and were joined by Thorbjorn and Christian, who flew-in to Cardiff.
Peter Ryder leads Socitm's International engagement, and led our hosting activities for our International guests. He created an itinerary that, today, included an excursion that took us to Bristol to tour the SS Great Britain, and visit the Clifton Suspension Bridge and nearby Camera Obscura, and to Bath for lunch at "Sally Lunns" followed by a visit to the Roman Baths. The day-trippers included next year's President, Steve Hopson, and his wife Sue, Peter's wife, Lin, and Chris and I followed in our car, as I needed to ensure I could get back in good time to prepare for the conference opening, and returned after lunch. The weather couldn't have been better, and everyone had a wonderful day!
My Welcome Address was at six 'o' clock. I've added the speech as a separate Blog entry, if you're interested. TV Presenter, Sara Coburn, was again our conference host. Her professionalism really helps to make a polished conference - contrasting sharply with the President's last minute attempt to use a teleprompter for the first time! Paul Sloane's keynote address, which followed, is reported on Socitm's website.
Prior to the 7.30 Reception for all delegates, the international guests and their hosts were invited to the President's suite for drinks. A magnificent dinner followed the Reception, and I have to say that the Celtic Manor's service and food were superb throughout the event.
The Events Team had arranged an optional Partners' Programme, today, for delegate partners, and Peter's programme for the International guests was joined by Lin, Sue and Chris.
Today's opening address was given by Wayne David, MP, Deputy Minister for Digital Inclusion, and he was followed by the CESG's Harvey Mattinson. Their speeches are also reported-upon at the above link, as are other plenary presenters'.
My mission, today, was to support the Government Connect workshops and the package of support that was launched. (A Press Release was also issued, today.) I attended at least the last 15 minutes of each of them to support Simon Norbury. They were all standing room, only, and I'm very pleased to say that there was overwhelming support for the initiative and the position that Socitm has adopted. We are "sticking our neck out", given the Government Connect inglorious track-record and patchy support across Government, but I believe we will make it work. We now need to see our commitment matched by all other Government Departments, and agreement to just one secure infrastructure (rather than separate Codes of Connection) for the whole of Government.
The Socitm Board of Directors met in my room over lunch. We kept the agenda to a minimum, but it included presentation, by Christine Peacock, of the Auditor's Report for the 2007 Financial Year, and our agreement of actions arising.
I reflected on the fact that the reorganisation, in which we're engaged, was kicked-off in earnest in a similar meeting in Rose's Presidential accommodation, exactly a year ago. The next key stage in that process was voted on at an EGM at 5.15pm. We needed at least 75% of attending members to vote in favour of the two special resolutions in order to carry them, so it was an enormous relief, and enormously gratifying, to gain the overwhelming support of members. By the time you read this, a Press Release should have been issued reporting the result but, in summary, our Society is now for all who work in ICT in the public and third sectors, and we have just two membership classes – "Member" and "Senior Member", and "one member, one vote".
There was a further Reception at 7.30, followed by the Gala Dinner and entertainment from 8.30. A number of us were up until the wee small hours, but I told myself I was allowed to "let my hair down" after the relief of today's successes, and progress made this year.
Today's keynote speaker was James Woudhuysen – Professor of Forecasting and Innovation at De Montford University. I thought his session – berating the "worship of youth", and saying, in effect, "what goes around comes around", was brilliant – and not a little heartening for oldies like me! (Also reported on the website.)
Chorley Borough Council Chief Executive Donna Hall's session was also very good. From Dan Jellinek's report on the website…' In response to a question from Socitm President Richard Steel expressing scepticism that another quango was needed to try and improve local government efficiency, Hall admitted there was a risk the new body would not be effective: "it does seem sometimes like central government departments always need to create another board to justify their own existence."'
Following which the President's Team were interviewed by Helen Olsen, Editor of Local Government IT in Use magazine, and I was amused to find that she seemed to be in a far worse state than I following the night's partying!
This year's Graham Williamson Travel Award winner was Frances Kettleday, from Cambridgeshire County Council, who has chosen to travel to Sweden.
After lunch, Siemens sponsored "Citizen Sally – Power to the People" – an entertaining piece of theatre that invited us to consider how we may be perceived by our ultimate customers – our citizens.
The conference finished with Tea, at three 'o' clock.
I'm tremendously grateful to my colleagues for putting-on such a great event, for the support of the exhibitors – I got to as many as I could – and, of course, the sponsors. I got loads of feedback, which was nearly all very positive. Well done everyone!
In the evening, our International guests were invited to the President's Suite for drinks, for one last time. Peter and Lin, Steve and Sue and Chris and I were also joined by Adrian Hancock and David Bryant. Peter had arranged for us then to dine at The Bell at Caerleon, which, I recommend you visit if you are in the Newport area.
Chris and I joined Peter and Lin for a leisurely breakfast - before we drove home in dismal weather, but now it didn't matter!
A very warm welcome to this year's Society of IT Management Conference.
Please join with me in also welcoming our International guests - from the USA, Sweden and Holland. Do let us know if there's anything at all we can do to help ensure that your visit to the UK is enjoyable and productive.
2008 has been a pivotal year for the Society…
In stemming our financial losses
In reorganising our management and administration
In renegotiating our commercial arrangements
In reconsidering our partnering and events management
In reviewing membership services
In proactively engaging with Government, and other stakeholders, on behalf of our membership
In committing to the adoption of a policy driven agenda
On behalf of Socitm's Board and National Advisory Council, I'd like, now, to urge you to support the next major step in our Society's transformation, through the adoption of a new membership model to be voted upon at tomorrow's Extraordinary General Meeting.
To some extent, the proposed resolution formalises changes that have been happening by stealth! Having started out as the "Society of (Local Government) IT Managers" – we have gradually grown our membership beyond the confines of local government, and quietly changed the "managers" to "management" some years ago.
But now's the time to commit ourselves to a fully inclusive Association for anyone who works in ICT in the Public or Third Sectors.
The new Socitm will enable us to lead transformational government developments through a membership that's drawn from all of the requisite constituents.
The new membership model will enable us to support the professional development of our members from Universities or Colleges right through to CIOs and their seats at the "Top Table" - covering the breadth of information, communications and technology services.
We are continuing to work on our professional development capabilities – through discussion with the BCS, NCC and others – and have committed ourselves to propose a comprehensive professional development model for formal adoption at the Society's next Annual General Meeting.
And at this Conference, Socitm Consulting will be launching its service offerings based upon the Aspire tool that was developed by Leeds City Council to support the Skills Framework for the Information Age – all part and parcel of the Society's development.
I want to turn, now, to our Society's aims and aspirations. For too long, I believe, we've been predominantly inward focussed. We have established a firm basis of assessing service performance through benchmarking our own services and measuring our ICT users' satisfaction - but now it is time to look beyond our own services to challenge our stakeholder communities to use the potential of ICT effectively.
Well, in the main, our services are pretty damn good, aren't they? But does that mean they are necessarily used effectively? No – it doesn't. In fact, I'd argue that too many of our customers are still closeted in silos; and some wear their ignorance of IT as badges of honour; they are happy to use ICT to do things the way that they know, love and are comfortable with, and are resistant to change.
ICT - Corporate ICT - holds the high ground. We have the bird's eye view of the organisation. We see the poor data quality that results from silo'd mentality. We see the opportunities and benefits that flow from shared datasets and services. We must see that ICT should not only be business driven; it has to be a driver of business change.
The Customer Access Improvement Service, launched this year by Socitm Insight, is an important step towards assessing how effectively ICT is used to deliver real customer outcomes.
I was also delighted with the recently published "Web 2.0: What it is and why it matters" report - which really challenges us to exploit new media to positively transform our services and customer experience.
At this conference, we are announcing the development of a set of new and revised benchmarking services with the aim of fostering both service and organisational improvement facilitated by ICT.
The new benchmarking services will enable members and business managers to both assess and improve their performance in a number of key customer-facing areas.
The services will offer what we call a Dashboard – a simple graphical means of seeing at a glance how the organisation is performing in just the same way as the dashboard on a car. The services will include: business transformation, Information assurance, security, flexible working, shared services and end-to-end customer service delivery.
Also branded as part of the same stable will be services such as:
Benchmarking, User Satisfaction, the Website Assessment Service and Customer Access Improvement Service and the National e-Service Delivery Standards; all augmented to really focus on demonstrating effective use of ICT, rather than just measuring its efficiency – all part of the organisational "Dashboard".
We have recognised that, previously, Socitm service delivery has been a little fragmented; it hasn't been clear which part of the organisation was responsible for what service, or even how some of them related to one another.
It's therefore planned that this development will constitute a cohesive set of services under a new, easily identifiable, brand, and, although delivered jointly by Socitm Consulting and Socitm Insight, accessible through a single customer interface.
On 19th November, Socitm will be holding a workshop in London, to develop the detailed requirements and service design.
We will be mailing you about this workshop and your Conference material includes reference to the workshop. We would encourage you to participate and give us your guidance on how this new service can meet your organisations' requirements.
It's vital that Socitm services reflect the Society's developing policy agenda, and our developers will work very closely with Socitm Futures to ensure the new set of services are tailored to meet Members' requirements.
Socitm policy and service development in this area will support the CIO agenda, working with the board and executive to reinforce ICT's pivotal role in business transformation. We, of course, recognise that we must work with our colleagues in other professional bodies to deliver a truly transformational programme, and are already seeking the advice, support and co-operation of other key stakeholders, like SOLACE, CIPFA, the PPMA, the LGA, Intellect and RIEPs. Socitm's new service developments are being designed to support partnership working, including Local and Multi Area Agreements.
Following the workshop on 19th November, we aim to publish a detailed prospectus before Christmas.
I'd like to say a few words , now, about Government Connect and its "CoCo" – the Code of Connection.
You are aware, I'm sure, of the challenging target that has been set by the Department for Work & Pensions, which will mean, from next April, the only supported means of sharing benefits data will be via the Government Connect infrastructure. Socitm has committed itself to work with the Government Connect Team to facilitate achievement of the Code of Connection with which Authorities must comply in order to join the Government Connect network – and I'm pleased to announce that a package of support, developed with Socitm, is being launched at this Conference.
I'm confident that we have a pragmatic way forward that will cement Local Government commitment to what will become a pan-Government strategy for appropriate, safe and secure data sharing…And I'm convinced that by throwing our weight behind the achievement of a secure Government infrastructure after, let's face it, years of fragmentation, procrastination and wasted effort, the public sector ICT profession can considerably extend its authority, consistent with the new agenda that we're setting today.
Whilst I may be passionate about the need for Socitm to seize the mantle, to drive the transformation of Government services and to set the direction for ICT enabled change in Society, I fully recognise the need to avoid throwing babies out with the bath-water! Technical workshops, discussion forums, sharing of best practice and skills development will remain as key weapons in our armoury.
Tomorrow, we will be providing an overview of the background to, and progress in, developing and implementing Socitm's new organisational structure before the Extraordinary General Meeting, tomorrow. For now, I do want to stress, however, that, although I hope that Socitm's leadership will be able to challenge and stimulate our membership to fully realise the potential that our profession has to offer, above all our aims are to be inclusive, responsive to Members' needs and wishes, and to be transparent and open about the conduct of our business. There are ample opportunities to become involved with the Society's work and help us to deliver the ambitious agenda that we are setting ourselves.
Socitm is your Society. Get involved. We are always in need of people to help with research, to represent us on various bodies or forums, to report back from meetings and events and to ensure that you - Socitm's members - remain the lifeblood of your Society.
By the way, I should mention that we also corrected a long-standing omission from our web-site. There is now a comments, complaints and plaudits facility! Please do use it.
Finally, my heartfelt thanks to the Socitm Events Team, and colleagues throughout the Society, for all the hard work that's gone into preparing for this occasion.
I hope you have a good conference – and don't forget about the Photo Competition!
Friday, 10 October 2008
Socitm 2008 Photo Competition
This year, thanks to sponsorship from GOSS Interactive, we’re running a photo competition for delegates using the photosharing website Flickr. We hope lots of you will enter!!
Here’s how it works:
The competition is open to anyone attending Socitm 2008
Entrants are invited to take photos with phones, cameras or other devices, and upload them to www.flickr.com/groups/socitm2008/pool/. Images must be posted by midnight on 21 October.
Judges are Richard Steel, President, Socitm; Ken Boxhall, chair, Socitm events committee; and Rob McCarthy, Managing Director, GOSS Interactive. The judges’ decisions will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.
Winners will be announced on http://www.socitm.gov.uk/ and http://www.socitmweb2.net/ during w/c 27 October
The four prizes are:
- 1st prize - Samsung NV20 digital camera including 4mb flash card.
- 2nd prize (x2) Samsung Digimax S760 digital camera including 4mb flash card.
- President’s special prize Canon Digital IXUS 70 digital camera
Prizes can be viewed at the GOSS Interactive stand (no 19). There is no cash alternative to prizes.
Socitm and GOSS will use images and publish winners names and organisations on its websites and via its other communications channels
Use the above link to our Flickr page to view all pictures. The latest images will be pulled through to http://www.socitmweb2.net/photos/
To upload pictures or comment on other people’s you’ll need to sign up with Flickr and join the Socitm 2008 space (its really easy). Then you just follow the instructions (there may be a short delay before your picture is added due to Flickr account moderation).
PCs and internet connections are available in the delegate work area.
Web 2.0 content rich functionality, that can enhance citizen engagement, is provided as standard with GOSS Interactive’s Web Content Management System – iCM.