Tuesday, 14 September 2010


The rest of the day at the IDBG CIO meeting was taken up with roundtable discussions and talking to suppliers. The roundtables are a good way of sharing information and exploring different issues, especially with colleagues who aren't in the HE sector.

The first was entitled Towards a Digital Britain, and really focused on what we thought the issues were in achieving a totally connected society.  I think we all agreed that one of the biggest barrier was connectivity.  We have much poorer 3G and wireless coverage than some other countries, even less well developed ones.  And even were there is good coverage, some people are still "not connected", probably because they don't want to be, or can't see the benefits or can't afford a PC. Some towns (close to Sheffield!), have less than 30% of people using the internet, and as things are geneally cheaper on the internet, and more services are moved there, this is going to disadvantage them.

The second roundtable was on cloud computing, and focused very much on local authorities, especially Westminster. This council has being 'infrastructure free' as a strategy, and aims to be so by 2014. It is outsourcing everything, including network provision, desktops and applications. I would argue this isn't really cloud computing, although the definitions of outhosting, outsourcing and cloud are becoming a bit blurred. As usual, they were interested in what Universities are doing, especially the move to things like Google.

The final roundtable I went to was about reputation and brand management, and the role of technology. We looked at how technology, especially social media, can enhance your reputation, and how if not used properly it can damage it.  I used the recent example of The Royal Opera House.  A blogger, Intermezzo, blogs about the ROH, gives information about performances, reviews, promotes shows etc and generally enhances their reputation. However, the ROH head of legal affairs decided they were using some copyrighted images illegally, and sent an extrodinary series of emails to them, including the threat to ban them from the ROH, and also including some fairly interesting grammar and spelling.  There's nothing the blogging/twitter community likes better than a cause like this, and suddenly the ROH was a trending topic on twitter  for all the wrong reasons, was appearing in the news and blogs, and was inundated with emails and poor  feedback.  In the end, the Head of Corporate Communications had to step in an apologise. I know, because I was one of the complainants, and received a very apologetic email.  Very poor handling of a situation by someone who clearly didn't understand social media. But I have to say, very well recovered once the comms people got hold of it.

As I'm staying in London tonight for a Gartner Summit tomorrow, I took the opportunity to see a show  - We Will Rock You.  Brilliant!


Peter Tinson said...

I think the problem with the thinking about Digital Britain is that it is too focused on the commercial providers. The role universities, colleges and libraries play in providing connectivity for the wider populus is largely ignored.

The evidence for this is in Ofcom's consultation on their reporting requirements on the UK communications infrastructure. This is a requirement on Ofcom arising from the Digital Economy Act but if you search the consultation document for the terms university. college, library, or education you draw a blank. But the consultation states that "Government requires an accurate picture of the state of the country’s communications infrastructure". With those omissions, it is unlikely to get one.

Matt Cook said...

An interesting article, we are seeing an increasing focus on the monitoring of social media for brand and reputation management. As part of our HEFCE Shared Service, ESISS, we have developed in-house a Reputation Dashboard which is starting to take off within the sector. Please let us know if you have any feedback in relation to this new initiative. We have nine UK HEIs using the service already and would like to develop it further: