Sunday, 15 March 2009

We're doooomed

David Sweeney is Director of Research, Innovation and Skills at HEFCE, used to be an IT Director, and is a past Chair of UCISA. He also reads this blog, so I have to be very careful what I say.....

On the second afternoon of the UCSIA Management Conference, David spoke to us about making good institutional decisions about IT, and was as always, entertaining and thought provoking. Some of us present, me included, have been around long enough to remember the Dearing Report published in 1997 on the future of Higher Education. Fans of Hitchhikers amongst us were amused to read recommendation 42 - which is of course the answer to life, the universe and everything - "We recommend that all higher education institutions should develop managers who combine a deep understanding of Communications and Information Technology with senior management experience". David's talk began by looking at whether this had been achieved, and I think all of us would agree that generally the answer is no. IT is not on the horizon of most senior management teams, doesn't figure as an area of concern and there's been no significant change in the way IT decisions are taken. But, a lot has been achieved, especially when compared to IT developments in other parts of the public sector, and maybe type 42 managers wouldn't have made much difference. It's unlikely for example that we would have had more funding!

Funding was the area that David concentrated on - bascially it's going to get worse and we need to be prepared. Prepared to make tough decisions, especially about quality and where we might be able to let it drop in a controlled way. IT will have to step and volunteer to help the University improve its productivity and do more with less. We need to stop talking about non essentials (including governance) and toughen up - that was his message for us! A bit of gloom and doom. but a message we need to take seriously.

No comments: