Friday, 29 August 2008

In the Interests of Research

Martin, Tony, Chris & I met with Sue Davis & Nicola Bain, of Gartner, at their offices in Egham. Socitm's current two-year contract with Gartner expires on Sunday! The contract provides two "IT Leader" seats with access to Gartner Research material, a few days on-site support from Gartner Analysts, and a number of tickets to the annual Gartner Symposium at Cannes. It also provided significantly discounted access to Gartner Services for Socitm Members, but the reality is that we haven't marketed it effectively, and the cut-down service excludes some services that are most valued to Members so, understandably, there has been little uptake of late.

What I'd really like to do is negotiate a more strategic relationship with Gartner – or another research organisation – that provides direct value for our membership, in addition to the (not inconsiderable) value derived through Insight and Consulting Services. Socitm produces a great deal of first class original material, so has much to offer in any partnership. However, in view of the imminent expiry of our agreement, my colleagues' belief that the service, which Insight budgets for, provides a significant input to their work, and, as dedicated Socitm servants, they really must attend the next Gartner Symposium at Cannes, an ordeal in which they toil from dawn to dusk and live like paupers, and my view that a more substantive relationship will best be linked to our proposed new membership model, we agreed to renew the current agreement.

We will, however, continue to explore the broader partnership opportunities.

There was a pleasing response to the Socitm Member Interests Survey. The Survey is now closed, and I've written back to Survey respondents as follows. However, I'll always be happy to hear from anyone else with offers of help.

"Many thanks for taking the trouble to respond to my Socitm Interests Survey.

"With your permission, I will use your response, and those of all other survey respondents, to establish a database of Member Interests that will form part of the Society's new CRM system, once it's installed. When we are seeking Socitm representation on any matter, we will check the database and contact you if it appears that you will be able to help us.

"In the meantime, I would like to report your interests to the new National Advisory Council, which meets for the first time on 22nd September. It will be seeking to ensure that all Socitm Regions and all types of Public Sector bodies are adequately represented at the NAC and at other key groups such as Socitm Futures. It's possible, therefore, that we may be in-touch in the near future!"

Thursday, 28 August 2008

There were two further meeting cancellations for today; I rearranged a third so I could remain at home and plough-on with other work.

I prepared the draft agenda for our next board meeting (9th September) and worked on Socitm organisational mapping and how this will be presented to our membership, for agreement by the Board at that meeting.

I also had another look at, and made a few revisions to, my speech for the President's Dinner on the same day. Thanks, Vicky and Rose, for advice.

In between keeping up with correspondence, I continued with judging of Awards entries, but am still not half-way!

I'm pleased to say that Adrian has posted-up proposed Socitm comments, complaints & plaudits procedures (to the GovX Board area) for the approval of Directors. These should also be agreed at our upcoming Board meeting - at the latest - and appropriate e-forms will be loaded onto our web-site. Although we first registered the need for these last year, they were not prioritised given all the organisational change that was in progress.

I thought this interesting. I know we depend on advertisements to keep costs down, but don't we all go out of our way to avoid them anyway? I am so intent on trying to get rid of those that pop-up in the middle of what I'm trying to read that I couldn't tell you what they're for anyway. I'm also not aware of being targeted in advertising. Maybe subconsciously, 'though? Anyway, I think it's a good thing if we can choose to not be bothered by advertising, but I imagine will result in a return to more paid-for subscription services.

Having submitted a couple of queries to "ZoomClouds", I have just realised that my Tag Cloud (at ComputerWorldUK) is not being updated at all, which explains the issues I queried. Another support request has been logged accordingly. Funnily enough, all my "clicks", until now, have come from the US and Spain!

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Until yesterday evening I had convinced myself I was in Birmingham, today, and arranged a session with Vicky's partner, Joe, at their offices to brush-up on my presentation abilities. When I sat down to plan my journey, 'though, I realised I was actually supposed to be in Manchester! Clearly, I am losing it!

Adrian and I met with the NCC's Kylie Smith and Ian Jones, at their Manchester offices, to discuss events management. We had a productive meeting, recognising a great deal of synergy between our organisations, which should lead to a NCC proposal for a Socitm Events Management service.

Afterwards Adrian and I stole half an hour to catch-up on business at a local café, before he had to catch a train to London for a meeting. Vicky had 'phoned me to say she needed 120 words for the Socitm President's dinner menu, so I lingered long enough to do that on my Smart 'Phone, which I don't recommend ('though for some reason it didn't occur to me to use Word Mobile, which would have been easier).

I had been due to have lunch with Ian Dunmore, but he had to cancel because of problems back at the office, so returned home and worked on correspondence through the evening.

To date, we've received 123 responses to the survey on Microsoft software usage, and a few queries, two of which, from my colleagues Simon Berlin and Glyn Evans, make aspersions about my survey design skills! I'll respond to all the points raised in another Socitm mail-shot, next week.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

In my Blog, last week, I reported that "we have been unable to find any contracts or job descriptions for the (Socitm) staff!" Oops - we have now found the documentation, following a further search of files, and I therefore apologise for the error.

Plantech plc is a long-term sponsor of the Socitm President's dinner. I'm pleased to report that, following the company's recent acquisition by IDOX Group, it has confirmed that it will again be sponsoring this year's event.

Following my weekend of weddings, it was back to Earth with a bump, today, with several intense meetings.

I met with colleagues from the Building & Research Establishment (BRE) and Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform (BERR) to discuss various opportunities related to the Assisted Living Innovation Platform (ALIP) and TeleHealth. I was pleased to hear that the DAP (Digital Access Provision Forum) was successful in its bid to the Technology Strategy Board, winning £1.7m of funding towards a £4.4m project over 4 years, through which the Microsoft Shared Learning Group has won £162k of funding to develop a detailed specification of requirements - based on which Microsoft will develop a software tool. Other partners include the Continua Health Alliance, tasked with standards convergence, whose first product is a new Bluetooth specification with time-stamping, and BT leading on what the assisted living solution will look like, with the BRE and other partners implementing in homes.

The Assisted Living Innovation Platform aims to develop next generation TeleCare and Assistive Technology solutions with the aim of developing a 1,000 home project by 2012. There is a deadline for the submission of Expressions of Interest under the current call for proposals under this programme – the Smart Care Distributed Environment (communications aspects of Assisted Living) of 4th September. Ranjit Bassi, who co-ordinates the DAP Forum, asked whether Newham would be prepared to lead a pilot work package on tracking dementia sufferers. Given its present work through the NHS Whole Systems Demonstrator, and our Telecommunications Infrastructure Convergence project, I thought there was likely to be a great deal of interest.
We also discussed other upcoming developments, and agreed to maintain our dialogue, agreeing a number of related action points.

In the afternoon, Ian Tomson-Smith and Alf Raju, from SNT Consulting, briefed me on progress in the PSMP project – text Newham to 80010 to be sent a WAP link to the beta site. Recent consultation, including that with the Young Mayor of Newham, has provided very positive feedback on the social inclusiveness of the project, which is also now working with Newham's Business Development Officer and the Council's Business Directory to provide location specific advertising for local businesses.

The PSMP project has now been presented to Heads of 2012 and CIOs in all five of the 2012 Olympic boroughs. It's also working with Barking and Waltham Forest on the 101 project through the Mayor of London's office.

The portal is due to go "live" on 19th September – the expected date of the announcement of London's Cultural Olympiad programme. Mobile technology is expected to provide a key communications medium. Launch publicity will include 46 local poster sites, Bluetooth sites in Stratford and Upton Park Stations, and at the Excel Exhibition Centre (subject to confirmation) and content in the Newham magazine.

We also discussed how Socitm can help, but, already, word is obviously getting around because the project has been contacted by the Bahrain Government, which wishes to develop something similar!

Thursday, 21 August 2008

To my reader who recently told me I should use more pictures to brighten-up my Blog, I bring you the author, wit & politician…

Sir Richard Steel (1672-1729)… Not to be confused with…The real McCoy.

Thanks to Ian Dunmore for pointing that out, and providing a little light relief during my judging entries for the Computing Awards for Excellence 2008.

Coincidentally, I was judging an entry by a supplier of security technology to a certain financial institution when I read this. If Mr. Hornby has put his bank statements out in the rubbish, without shredding them, that, of course, is nothing to do with his organisation's ICT. I'm sure its security technology is great. Interesting, 'though, that he apparently still has printed statements delivered?

Apart from staying on-top of correspondence, I did little other than awards judging all day, and haven't yet got half way!

You remember that I mentioned I experimented with Tag Clouds, a little while ago? Well, I now have a live Cloud at the end of each entry in the version of my Blog that's maintained at ComputerWorldUK. I'm told it will get better over time but, already, I have used my offline version to quickly locate and refer back to previous points. I'll be interested in any observations on this utility.

I'm on holiday, tomorrow, and Chris and I are off to Somerset for a wedding. We have weddings to go to on Saturday & Sunday, too!

Enjoy your long weekend!

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

A Socitm Workshop to consider how our benchmarking services should be taken forward was held at Newham's offices at Direct House. We resolved to develop a new Socitm brand and will have the concept ready to launch at the Socitm Conference. The working title for the brand is "Socitm Measurement", and colour (TVR!) purple. How many of you realised that literature related to different Socitm brands – Insight, Consulting – is colour coded?

We recognised that there is some confusion about how our present benchmarking services are organised and delivered, as they are located in different services. Importantly, therefore, the new service offerings will be "pan-Socitm". Although Socitm corporate, Insight and Consulting will all be involved in their delivery, there will be a single, cohesive member interface. Existing services, including ICT Benchmarking, the User Satisfaction Survey, the new Customer Access Improvement Service, the National e-Service Delivery Standards, the Application Software Index / e-Government Index and KPIs Database will become part of the brand and developed within it, but there will be a major focus on demonstrating effective use of ICT (as opposed to measuring its efficiency).

Socitm Futures will be asked to develop associated policies, in accordance with the protocol, which includes formal member consultation, that was agreed at its previous meeting. Although we should not delay the launch of the "Socitm Measurement" services, subsequent development will be closely aligned to emerging Society policy on Information Management and Governance. We also recognised the need to build appropriate links with other stakeholder professions in the delivery of some services. A further meeting was arranged at Vicky's offices in Birmingham, on 15th September, to refine the proposition and consider marketing issues.

I reviewed responses, so far, to the Survey of Members' interests. (Thank you very much to all who have responded.) One respondent's expressed his (understandable) view that the Society has an Identity Crisis, as we claim to be working in the interests of all public sector IT Managers – but in reality still exhibit too much Local Government bias. I wrote back clarifying that, as yet, Socitm technically remains a Society for Local Government IT Managers. Although we (the board and a broad range of Socitm activists) have agreed our ambition of developing the Society for all who work in ICT in the public and third sectors, and we do have a number of members from Police, Heath, Charities etc, the formal change is dependent upon a change in our articles of incorporation that will be voted-on at an Extraordinary General Meeting at the Socitm Conference (12th to 14th October). I thought that clarification worth making here.

Mike Simons, ComputerWorldUK editor, and I met to discuss several matters, including Socitm Events Management, my proposed campaign regarding social injustice and other collaborative opportunities – not to mention Tag Clouds and Widgets!

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

For the first time, today, I attended Socitm's offices in Northampton, and the Corporate Services Team Meeting. We discussed the accounts restructuring to enable effective cost monitoring, which appears to be proceeding well. There are a few other "informal" accounting practices that developed in the past, which have negatively impacted our cash flow, which are also being addressed.

In discussion of the new approach to membership classes and subscriptions that's under development, the Team identified some administrative considerations that we need to take into account in finalising the proposals.

The transition to the new CRM and CMS systems was also considered, and a prioritised implementation plan is to be drawn-up.

We also discussed administrative support for the October Conference & EGM. (There has been a further addition to the conference programme, with Paul Murphy, MP, Secretary of State for Wales, and Minister for Digital Inclusion, now likely to be speaking, of which more as soon as arrangements can be confirmed.)

We have been unable to find any contracts or job descriptions for the staff! The Team were advised that these are now being drafted as a priority, and the regular appraisal of all staff, which is among Adrian's own appraisal targets (now shared with staff, and also to be posted in the Members' area of the Socitm website) is also being put in-hand.

Despite the lack of documentation of roles and requirements, the Team has being doing a fantastic job, and staff have made many suggestions of their own on how things can be improved. We agreed the need to appropriately accommodate the CST Members in GovX Discussion space, and ensure they are able to contribute to the Outstanding Actions & Issues List. David (Goddard)'s plea, on behalf of the Team, was to ensure they are adequately consulted and kept informed of decisions, which I promised we'd do.

Monday, 18 August 2008

The August Socitm President's Report is now available.

A beta version of the Newham PSMP (Public Sector Mobile Portal) has been released. Either Text 'newham' to 80010 and you'll be sent a link that you can simply click on to launch the portal, or just type the address '' into your phone's browser. This is a service specifically designed for, and to be used on, a phone. We are keen to learn about the different browsing experiences and any problems that may face a particular 'phone. Development is still under way to deliver more services and further content will be rolled out incrementally up to the full launch in mid September.

I worked from home, today, on, among other things, a first draft of my speech for the President's Dinner on 9th September. Organised, or what!?

Friday, 15 August 2008

This morning I chaired an interview panel for one of the ICT Service Manager posts in the Newham ICT reorganisation.

Then, following yesterday's Board meeting, I wrote this month's Socitm President's Report, which will be with Members next week.

The content of a Microsoft licensing survey of Authorities was agreed with the OGC BS Team. There will be a mail-shot to Socitm Members, next week, requesting completion of the survey to facilitate development of the relicensing project.

I met with Phil Wheeler, the BT Project Manager for the London Network Audit, with two of his colleagues from the Networks & Consultancy Team at Adastral Park, to discuss requirements. Such a refreshing change from speaking to Sales people!

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Camden Town Hall was the venue for today's Socitm Board Meeting. Steve Jones joined us as a new Non-Executive Director, picking-up the Portfolio for Information Systems & Technology. Bernard Gudgin joined us as an Advisor – particularly on Membership matters.

We are now forecasting to make a modest but, as yet fragile, surplus in this year's budget, but this is good news after several years of six figure losses!

A major item was to agree proposed investment in new CRM (Customer Records Management) and CMS (Content Management System) software that will be integrated with our Exchequer system. This is a small step for mankind, but a giant leap forward for Socitm - our current membership system is an Access database! The aim is to implement the new system in time for our new membership year, starting 1st January.

We also agreed the last major organisational change for our rejuvenated Society, which will be to have two divisions with their own management boards dedicated to Membership Benefits and Service Delivery. We also discussed draft organisational diagrams, which we aim to finalise at September's Board meeting. More about these developments will be in my forthcoming President's Report.

David, Bernard and Adrian presented new membership proposals, which we discussed for well over an hour. This is a relatively complex subject given the various factors to be considered, such as our planned expansion of scope and extension of the electoral franchise. However, good progress has been made, and I'm confident that we will have practical and effective proposals to lay before the EGM at our October Conference.

We discussed the consultation that's commenced on Events Management, and the board agreed proposals for carrying this work forward. It's looking like a "hybrid solution" is favoured – a mixture of self-service for regional meetings (using our super new CMS system) and some out-sourcing of events organisation and management. We noted that we need, carefully, to consider how this will work with the new approach to private sector partnership and engagement that we're developing (and also discussed).

Socitm Consulting is now operating in accordance with a new MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) whilst we continue to negotiate the legal minutiae in order to put a new contract in-place, but we can be confident that benefits from the new relationship are now starting to accrue, and will be fully evident in our next financial year.

Our next meeting will be followed, in the evening, by the President's dinner – one of the major events in the President's calendar – and I guess the first major checkpoint on progress in the ambitious agenda that we've set-out. I hope for a good report but, in any event, recognise the need, fully, to re-engage with our membership and regions. Having got the budget pretty much under control, and the major organisational changes needed for a sustainable, effective and efficient Society in-place, our September Board meeting will mark a new focus on ensuring that members really see the benefit from these changes.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Today I worked from home and had one of those lovely days when, having started-out worrying about how the heck I was going to get through the work before me, I sailed through my task-list and felt all was well with the world by the end of my day!

So, I produced a briefing on prospective ICT Multi-Area Agreement developments linked to 2012 for tomorrow's Newham Strategic Management Board, spoke to Mike Simons (ComputerWorldUK) and Ian Dunmore (PSF) about Socitm supplier consultation and potential future management of Events, wrote a letter of intent concerning Newham's WiMax trial and associated matters to Padraig at the Intel Innovation Centre, responded to a media enquiry on storage headaches and natural language interfaces, updated Director responsibilities for Socitm's Issues and Actions List for discussion at tomorrow's Socitm Board Meeting, spoke with David and Adrian regarding tomorrow's meeting, drafted a Survey of the Socitm membership on their use of Microsoft Licensing contracts (in connection with the OGC BS project on a new public sector agreement), responded to another of those occasional queries from students on proprietary versus "open source" and got up-to-date with correspondence.

I even found time to run some errands. So now I'm off to catch-up with the Olympics!

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

I met BT's Dr. Joe Walsh at its in Newgate Street offices to discuss the announcement of investment in super-fast (fibre) network, Newham's Telecoms Convergence Programme and development of London and national Public Services Network. Detailed plans for the BT development won't be available until the end of the year but Joe accepted an invitation to attend a Socitm Futures meeting to discuss the objectives, and we agreed to stay in-touch as our respective plans progress. He is aware, of course, of the BT contract, through TfL, to establish London Public Services Network needs, concerning which I have another meeting on Friday.

Afterwards I met-up with Adrian Hancock and Bernard Gudgin, the author of proposals on Socitm professional development, for a quick pre-meet over lunch, before meeting at the BCS's Southampton Street offices with its Chief Executive, David Clarke, and Cliff Lineker, Strategic Business Development Executive for discussions on collaboration.

In connection with the Chartered IT Professional programme, David explained the lengthy process, to be voted on by the BCS membership in October prior to seeking Privy Council approval for the licensing the award of CITP status by other professional organisations. It's expected this process will be completed by the end of the year. The IET (Institution of Electrical Engineering & Technology) will be first in the queue, but it's expected the BCS will also be in a position to license Socitm thereafter. An independent register will be run by the Engineering Council.

Other discussions concerned nomination of Socitm to membership of the Professionalism in IT Alliance, and of the BCS Government Relations Group. BCS International Developments were outlined, although details of a new partnership programme are currently "under wraps" pending an announcement in 6-8 weeks. Socitm will invite the new BCS International Director to the upcoming LOLA International Conference for discussions.

Adrian and I found the discussion of events management to be particularly illuminating, which helped to clarify our views on future Socitm Events Management.

Bernard will be joining us as an advisor at Thursday's Board meeting, and will continue to help and advise on professional development and the new membership model.

We finished fairly, so I set-off home intending to seize the opportunity of tackling my growing backlog of work, but was thwarted, in this objective, by the closure of the Dartford Bridge because some scaffolding had not been put-up properly, resulting in grid-lock for miles around, and a three hour journey. Having finally made it to the other side, how thrilled I was to queue again to pay a toll to these denizens of public service!

Monday, 11 August 2008

About a month ago Paul Canning posted in his Blog in response to my presentation – proclaiming that "now ICT & Web are synonymous" – at a PSF event. I said I'd respond when I had more time. Well, these days it seems there's never enough time, but I thought I should revisit the topic before it's ancient history.

Paul mentioned, rightly, that I was deliberately provocative and, to be honest, I did exaggerate for effect (and my own enjoyment!) However, there were a number of serious points. The "webification" of ICT is happening as we speak. It's not just about IP convergence – a single infrastructure shared by all media – but also the changed approach to data management, security and search. For now, I think the clear role of ICT is to maintain and optimise the infrastructure that's used by our customers' to operate their businesses. The question that arises is whether operating web-sites is a "service".

When Paul says he doesn't see the factors that have prevailed in the last ten years changing in the next ten, I think he is failing to appreciate the significance of the "21st century industrial revolution" that digital convergence represents. I don't think it's a matter of the public versus the private sector, although I agree there are some significant differences between the two. Like all good revolutions, digital convergence is driven by the grass-roots – social computing – and it won't be possible for our sector to continue to be "walled off from influences from wider web development".

Paul mentioned that "newspaper websites are built-on content". Martin Veitch's article in "CIO", which I recently referred to in my Blog, had a slightly different take: "…as we wake-up to the fact that, just as we stopped writing about it, convergence in media finally happened…. Technology, media and telecoms has become more like one sector than three."

I think all the evidence is that I am right, but my implication that that means everything becomes part of the ICT professional domain is definitely open to challenge! The reality, I think, is that all our jobs are changing. Software Oriented Architecture, Software-as-a-Service, mash-ups, cloud searching are all "webification of ICT". Web sites are becoming sophisticated applications repositories. To make sense of this, design skills, both presentation and configuration, are critical and, currently, the design role is becoming paramount.

Perhaps the key point to take from our discussion is that we all need to recognise that we are part of one sector that is growing and adapting to accommodate this age of convergence. (That's among the realities that current developments in Socitm must reflect.) I could go on at some length, but really don't have the time, right now, but I'm certain this is a debate that will continue into next year, and among the issues to be covered at this year's Socitm Conference.

Today I met Kable's Head of Events and two of her colleagues at their offices in Farringdon to discuss the possibility of partnership in Socitm Events management. I've discussed this with the Events Team, who do a great job on our annual conference, but we agreed to explore opportunities for providing a more comprehensive service to the Society (for all events) working with a professional events organisation. This exploratory meeting helped me to develop my understanding of what such a relationship could look-like, and what would be the likely requirements and constraints from either side. All in all, 'though, I thought our meeting was quite positive. There will be further exploratory meetings with two other prospective partners, then, if we decide to negotiate formally, colleagues from Socitm's current Events Team will be among the working party members.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Edelman's (Microsoft's PR Agency) posh offices in Victoria Street provided the venue for judging short-listed entries for the Microsoft Innovate 08 Awards. Other judges were from the IDeA (Improvement & Development Agency) LGC (Local Government Chronicle) and, of course, Microsoft. Finalists will be announced next week.

Since Newham failed to send a bounce message to Helen Olsen in response to a misaddressed e-mail, we have been corresponding about whether this will constitute a cause for creating avoidable contact under the new National Indicator 14. I am now convinced that it will. Newham's justification for not sending bounce messages to misaddressed external e-mails is, I am told, because a basic spamming technique is to send lots of emails in an organisation and the ones that are not rejected would be valid email addresses; those recipients would then get even more spam. Well that may be the case, but I guess that would mean we were organising our systems for our own convenience, rather than that of our own customers, so we should now change our policy. Yet again, however, this raises the question of why our industry has not yet adopted IPv6, in which all e-mail should be traceable back to source.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Today, Adrian and I were back at Camden Town Hall, with a number of other Socitm colleagues, to meet with invited suppliers to consult on how we could develop our relationships more effectively. To date, our relationship with private sector suppliers and members has been rather piecemeal – based mainly around sponsorship of one-off events. We are keen to develop more strategic relationships that deliver real value through propositions that create sustainable and valued partnerships. We already had some ideas of our own, but this workshop was about gaining insight and advice from this key group of stakeholders.

After introductions, and a short presentation from Adrian, we broke into three groups to discuss our responses to a number of questions concerning experiences as supplier members, value currently derived and which could be derived, value that can be offered back to Socitm, how business relationship schemes should be structured and activities or services that Socitm should offer, but currently doesn't.

The exercise proved invaluable; there was much agreement on views of how our Society has been inconsistent in its engagement with the private sector, and one organisation's reference to us as an "ad-hocracy". Colleagues wanted clarity about policy and stakeholder buy-in. In the main, benefits that were derived were though personal relationships, rather than engagement with the businesses; we needed to do more to help suppliers, particularly SMEs, to engage with public sector procurement bureaucracy. Many positive, practical and helpful suggestions were developed during the morning, and we agreed to maintain dialogue through a new discussion forum with the aim of agreeing the relevant membership considerations and agreeing upon partnership options ahead of the October Conference.

Back at Direct House, in the afternoon, Geoff and I met with Padraig Coakley from the Intel Innovation Centre in Dublin. Intel had proposed a WiMax trial to us at the beginning of the year, but we were not yet ready to proceed. Following approval of the Telecommunications Convergence project the time is now ripe to start planning the trial. We agreed foci around TeleCare, staff mobility and regeneration. I will now write formally to Padraig with some loosely worked-up proposals and indicative time-scales, with a view to scheduling a technical workshop to kick-off the project.

Then I met with Tony Hainsworth, from St. Edmundsbury Borough Council, concerning a proposal that was originally discussed with the previous Socitm leadership, but not progressed. Tony is on the Executive of the Local Government Computer Users' Association that was established as part of the ICL Computer Users' community. The group is now in the process of winding itself up and has balances available that it wishes to use to set-up an award for an individual who "demonstrates significant progress in the use of IT in Local Government. The offer was for Socitm to use the money to establish such a programme. I thought we could do so in conjunction with our imminent launch of the Aspire service to support the Skills Framework for the Information Age, which can be announced at our Autumn Conference. We agreed to work-up the proposal in correspondence that can include our mutual executive teams for approval.

I ended the day in my weekly teleconference with Adrian and David. This time it's Adrian who cannot be available on Friday because of holiday! Our hour-long discussion was all in final preparations for next week's Board Meeting.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Rose Crozier and I met Adrian Hancock in a Committee Room at Camden Town Hall for his appraisal interview. We agreed targets in five areas – Finance, Systems, Business Planning & Performance, HR and Documentation – that will be the basis of evaluation of the performance related element of his pay after the end of this year. (Socitm's financial year is based on the calendar year.) The appraisal targets will be published in full in the Members' area of our web-site.

I came away with a number of actions of my own, particularly in the areas of regional and communications planning.

I went back to Newham ICT's Direct House offices for the rest of the day, and got through a great deal of correspondence.

Mike Tolan also helped me to set-up the Catalist invitation to tender for the Newham Telecommunications Convergence Programme Management.

Geoff invited me to join him in a teleconference with colleagues at the DCSF, which was set-up as a result of my recent meeting with Keith Holder. It was agreed that Newham would introduce the Employee Authentication Service (EAS) to its Social Care system (OLM CareFirst) working with the system provider as an extension to our existing relationship relating to early adoption of Contact Point. The DCSF Team was keen to recruit Authorities to act as Pathfinders in local implementation of EAS. I had thought we could base the development around LACRM (Local Authority CRM, developed by Newham and marketed by Belfast), but the Social Care application will be ideal because of its use in multiple local organisations, and also because of the Contact Point link.

Geoff also stated that Newham is close to making a decision on two-factor authentication, using Smart Cards, for ICT infrastructure log-on, but there's time to influence the decision to enable adoption of common technology. All were keen to set-up a workshop as soon as possible to white-board all opportunities, and maximise the potential achievements, and it seems likely there will be a meeting within the next week.

…It's taken me around ninety minutes to complete this short diary entry, as I've been distracted – watching our local electric storm. Beats the Telly any day!

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

"Byte Night" is the IT Industry's annual sleep-out in aid of NCH (National Children's Homes) being held this (the 10th anniversary) year on Friday 3rd October. I've signed-up to take part in a Team of 5 CIOs put together by We had an introductory teleconference at 8.30, this morning, in which JP Rangaswami, CIO of BT Design, briefed us based on his experience last year. The good news is it's for a very good cause; the not-so-good, I'll be seeking sponsorship! More news soon.

Adrian and I met Steve Reynolds, Chairman of the Mobile Data Association, for lunch at the Axis Restaurant, One Aldwych, to discuss the relationship between our organisations. Steve Palmer set-up the meeting following an encounter with Steve at the CMA (Communications Management Association) Conference, but was unable to attend himself. We agreed upon a number of areas of co-operation – including a shared forum/ work area, collaboration on campaigns and research and work around "the mobile Olympics". Digital convergence will be a key theme.

I'd been told (by Geoff, and others) that the DCLG's William Barker has been trying to get contact me (although have had no messages or e-mails) so when I learned that Adrian was off to Eland House to meet with him, I decided to postpone work on our Issues & Actions List to accompany him and Mark Brett, who met us there. William was suitably honoured to meet with us all at the same time!

I'm glad I attended. William briefed us on developing pan-Government strategy in the key areas of identity management and authentication. By next spring it's hoped to present high-level strategy, and identify incremental development successes to date. It will have set-up self-help communities, in which Socitm can play a key part, to foster proactive engagement by the whole public sector. First thoughts are that Socitm can help in three areas:- The Local Public Sector CIO Council will have an advisory role in Central Government; It will develop a series of measures for the Local Government family to put in-place to ensure it's ready to engage in the identity strategy; it will create deliverables and services to facilitate engagement.

This is exactly the sort of engagement that I feel is needed for Socitm to support effective Transformational Government. William understands that our aim is to be an effective critical friend, not a Government "mouthpiece" – but we are very keen to help to articulate cohesive and realistic strategy and facilitate roll-out across the public sector. We did discuss the need to regain public confidence, and William has already been invited to join the Forum we have set-up to deliver the Vision and its communication.

He went on to brief us on a couple of other matters, including the UK Borders Agency's scheduled introduction (on 25th November) of a "UK Resident's Permit" – a smart card with biometric - for foreign visitors living in the UK, concerning which there have so far been no briefings to Local Government, which will need to know how to recognise these, and what to do with them! "What to do with them?" Well, nothing, for the time being – but a voluntary card for young people, aged 16-25 – is also to be introduced that could be used as proof of age or as a travel document, and it's aimed to develop pathfinder opportunities; for example, linked to 2012 developments.

Monday, 4 August 2008

This was something of a schizophrenic day working at home for Newham on the Newham Telecoms Convergence Programme Management and for Socitm on drafting organisational schematics.

I was interested, today, in a new slant on convergence, if only for the colourful language in "CIO News View: Metro newspaper goes free and "e" to the web". "Metro is the free sheet that has become as omnipresent at British city stations in cities as vagrants, prostitutes, drug dealers, pigeons and fast food wrapping." I'm not sure that the analogy holds-up for stations, but "Metro" certainly constitutes the vast majority of litter on Tube trains, these days. The convergence point is a serious one, and considering the growing awareness of green issues and social responsibility, one wonders why we can't choose to have the content Bluetooth-loaded to our Smart 'Phones.