Last night I went to a meeting at The Chemistry Club in London, and no I haven't suddenly decided to go back to my science roots, it's Chemistry as in networking. It's a place where IT professionals and CIOs from all sectors can come together in an independent setting and discuss items of shared interest. The discussions are partly facilitated, in that you have an "introducer" with all of your details and of the other attendees on an iPad, and you are introduced to people who've either requested to speak to you, you've requested to speak to them (this is all done in advance), or during the course of the evening mutual interests are uncovered. It's a bit like speed dating.
I love it, suits my shy, introverted nature :-). I get to network with some very interesting people and discuss lots of things that I wouldn't normally get chance to. I'm a great believer in networking and making contacts. It's also a way of getting introductions to people and organisations, which is great for getting people to speak at conferences and events.
Last night I spoke to the CIO of British Airways about the complex nature of their real time IT systems and a senior IT executive from John Lewis about shopping. Well, not really about shopping as such, but of the importance of making the customer experience as similar and seamless as possible no matter what platform customers are using, whether it's a web site, an app or actually being in the store. I also chatted with several people from local authorities about the transformational effect "going digital" can have on the way they do their business and interact with the local population.
The word " transformation" cropped up a lot, especially in people's titles. CIOs have suddenly become Heads of Transformation, signalling a change from IT being systems and infrastructure based, to transforming the business.
The BBC had a lot of people there as the Head of Future Media was the keynote speaker, and I spent some time chatting with one of their senior R and D executives about how they are moving their services forward. They work on the "shape, build, deliver" philosophy, with three separate teams. Shape is the innovation team, Build, the developers, and Deliver an operational team. Something I think we need to get our heads round more.
Much of the keynote speech and the other discussions with the BBC centred on their coverage of the Olympics, the challenges they'd faced, and the huge success it had been. Fascinating to hear it from the technology perspective.
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