Monday, 30 November 2015

Prizes and cakes....

An annual event for us is our thank you party in November/December every year. A couple of hours of beer, wine and food once the beginning of term has died down. We combine it with a charity raffle, prizes donated by the department and suppliers, and we regularly raise several hundred pounds for charity.

This year was no exception, the prize table was again groaning last Friday, much beer was drunk, and almost everyone took home something. Thanks to everyone for donating raffle prizes, selling tickets, and helping set up on the day. Great effort!

Today I was mainly interviewing for a new exciting post, more later as I clearly can't say much at the moment. But, the highlight of the day had to be judging the TEL teams bake off efforts. With 6 amazing cakes, it was very hard to pick a winner, so we picked three. But really, all of them deserved to win. I tasted all six, and as someone who doesn't have a sweet tooth, I really wondered how they do it on Bake Off where they have to taste many more! Well done to all of them.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

A new Chancellor

Today was a big occasion at the University - the installation of a new Chancellor. For most of us working at a University, it doesn't happen very often. The last time it happened here was the installation of Sir Peter Middleton in 1999.

It was a great ceremony, with a brass fanfare composed by our music students especaillay for the occasion, the chancelor's choir singin, and the ceremonial passing on from one Chancellor to the other by both touching the University mace together.

Our new Chancellor is The Right Honourable Lady Justice Rafferty, DBE, a graduate of the University. I have to say, I am looking forward to her term of office with great expectations. The first woman Chancellor here, she delivered her address with passion, feeling, dignity, and without any notes, nor the comfort of the lecturn. Very impressive.  The ceremony was videoed, and when I have the link for the stream I'll post it. Meanwhile, you can see her speak about her new role here:

Ceremonies like this do not organise themselves, and many people make it run smoothly. I would especially like to mention the team from CiCS who organised and ran all of the technology - the filming, live streaming, the audio, and video  - you did a great job. Well done and thanks.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

10 billion eccentrics...

Departmental meeting today - as always some great speakers. We had a talk on our progress and  success in the Green Impact Agenda, a look at how the development team are putting in place techniques to schedule, prioritise and manage work, and the University's "Achieve More" programme. We were also very lucky to have our new PVC for Learning and Teaching talk to us about a number of things including the upcoming TEF - Teaching Excellence Framework.

This year's Achive More Challenge for our second year students is entitle 10bn - based on the theory that in their lifetime, the population of the world will reach 10bn. What will that mean? What threats, challenges and opportunities will it brin? take a look at what some of our students think here:

Oh, and if you're wondering about the title of this post. One of the UKs best folk singer/songwriters Pete Morton is a great friend of mine, and he wrote a song called Six Billion Eccentrics. I intended to call this post 10bn, but that's not what came out ;-)

It's all about the digital...

This week it's mainly been about digital. Yesterday I attended an awayday with the University Executive Board (UEB) to talk about a Digital Strategy. First question - do we need one? Or shouldn't is just be part of everything we do?

Second question - what do we mean by "Digital"? In a University context, it often means digital teaching and learning, but the point I was trying to make yesterday is there is so much more to it than that. I came up with five other areas, but there are probably a lot more. There's also an implication that this is new - but we've been doing "digital" for a long time. I think we are extremely innovative in this area - we agreed that our strategy would be web based wherever possible back in 1996!!!  I know, I proposed it. And we've continued to be innovative. I shared a picture with UEB about the different strands of digital, what we've done, and what we are either going to do or are doing. It is by no means exclusive, and could have been a lot bigger, but it was to illustrate the point. it also showed the enablers that need to be in place to make it happen, not least, digital literacy. And I mean of our staff, not of our students. wr have a lot of work to do n theat area!

Anyway, here's the picture. Watch this space. Something is going to happen soon!

Friday, 20 November 2015

Prioritising projects and coffee ordering

Having met the new Chief Executive of JISC at RUGIT the other day, yesterday I was pleased to welcome him to Sheffield. We had a really good discussion with our CFO about the future of JISC, especially around funding arrangements, and then I chatted with him about our plans and strateies and the issues we were facing. Of course, I took the opportunity to show him round our excellent learning spaces - The Information Commons and The Diamond. I think he was impressed ;-)  As well he should be - they are some of the best technology enhanced learning spaces in the UK, of course, I might be biased, but I'm sure I'm right. 

Later in the afternoon we had a meeting of our Service Strategy Board to look at how we prioritise projects. Considering a number of criteria including alignment to strategic goals and impact, we played an interesting game of "Play Your Cards Right", for those old enough to remember it. Having all the projects written on cards, we placed one in the middle of the table, then ordered the others either higher or lower. We got to an agreed list in the end. But of course, that doesn't necessarily mean thats' the order we will do them in, as so many other things impact on that. The resources needed, deadlines, availabilty of resources - all come into play.

Finally this week we had a very productive meeting with the Students Union about how we might work closer with them on a number of digital projects. My dream is to be able to order a coffee from Coffee Revolution from my desk, walk over to the SU, find a table and sit down and have it delivered to me. Apparently we're not that far off :-)

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

UCiSA, RUGIT, JISC and JANET (acronyms galore)

Back from Barcelona, and straight off to to more exotic places - Manchester and London!  Manchester was another site visit for the UCISA conference to be held there next March. This time we were looking at how we might use some of the technology we have available, including disply screens for our posters, which aren't going to be posters at all but videos, and a rather exciting exhibit looking at wht theuniveriyty of the future moght look like.

London was a RUGIT (Russell Group IT Directors) meeting. We were very fortunate to have members of JISC with us including the new Chief Executive. We had a very good discussion of what JISC is about, and how we benefit from it. JISC has three main functions - to provide a digital infrastructure, primarily through JANET, our network; to broker sector wide deals, mainly for electronic journals; and to provide expert advice and practical assistance. They're funded mainly from the funding councils and Universities, and provide a great deal of value to the sector - they calculate about £140m per annum. That's a lot of money! This mainly comes from the provision of the network, the work they do on cybersecurity and protecting us from attacks, and the deals they are able to do for us. We had a very interesting and frank discussion with them about what the furure holds, especially as their funding decrease and our current subscription ceases to become mandatory and we can choose whether we pay it or not. Personally I think it is worth it for the provision of JANET alone, despite the problems we've had over the last year. It is still the best network around!

Other things discussed at RUGIT included our response to the PREVENT guidelines, how and why, we're going about Student Attendance monitoring, and Information Security training. 

Friday, 13 November 2015

Home again

Well the conference is finished, we've had the closing keynote, the exhibition stands are packed away, and all of the signs are being taken down. It is a huge conference - several thousand attendees (about 6 I think), and hundreds of Gartner staff. It's a great place to hear about new things, network, attend workshops, and just generally immerse yourself in all things digital.

Takeaways for me included looking at how we might take advantage of the Internet of Things, whether wearables have any place in education and if so, what at the ethical implications, how can we use data and algorithms to improve our services, and most of all - we need to get digital!

And of course, I got to ride on a Segway again. Wouldn't be a trip abroad without a Segway ride. Can't wait for the UK to catch up with the rest of the world and allow them to be ridden here ;-)

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Nothing but a pair of speedos....

Had an amazing talk from Lewis Pugh, an environmental campaigner, who was the first person to swim at the North Pole. Done to bring attention to the fact that he could swim there, when really the ice should be frozen, but it is now melting. The water is still below freezing because it is salt water, almost 2 degrees below. 5 degrees colder than the water the Titanic passengers froze in.

He swam a kilometre in 28 minutes, in just a pair of speedos and goggles.

I defy anyone to watch this video and not to take a gasp of breath when he jumps in, or to scream just put a blanket on him, to his team when he gets out!

He also swam around all of the Maldives, which was a bit warmer, to draw attention to the fact that as the oceans rise, they are disappearing, Half way round his boat broke and they couldn't fix it. Seeing a yacht in the distance he joked that he knew Roman Abramovitch had a yacht out there and wouldn't it be good if it was and he rescued them. After some calls back to London including to the Chelsea FC manager, the yacht started to come towards them. It was his, and he rescued them, and gave them use of it for a few days!!!

If you want to know more about this amazing man, read his book, 21 Yaks and a Speedo.


Digital Ethics

Went to an interesting session on the ethics around artifice intelligence, data mining and tracking etc.

Lots of public discussions going on at the moment, but should we be worried?

Reasons we might be:

  • Robots will take over lots of jobs
  • AI developing too quickly, once they get smarter than us...
  • Power+ bad people= disaster
  • Need to worry about artificial stupidity
  • Experts don't see the obvious

Or is there really no need to worry?

  • Like in all other eras new jobs will be created
  • Law of diminishing returns will kick in
  • Why would robots turn against us
  • AI in its infancy
  • We learn and adapt

Just 6% of adults think the government can be trusted to keep our data secure

Between 66% and 75% are not confident that their activity with social media, advertisers and search engines is private and secure

70% of CIOs are. worried that there is no logical place to raise these issues

Lot of confusion about. On the one hand we believe that in freedom and that Governments shouldn't snoop. On the othe hand we are concerned about safety and think the Government should protect society


This is what Facebook can predict about you with what accuracy

Should we be more worried about the accuracy of the top categories or the inaccuracies of the lower ones?

How organisations find themselves crossing the creepy line:

Digital ethics is a system of values and moral principles for the conduct of digital interactions among people, business and things

It determines what is good, what is bad and is all about the discussion and debate. It's not about compliance.

Compliance has a role, is the baseline of ethical behaviour, that's all.

One level up in our motivation to do the right thing is Risk. But, risk is not in charge of the digital ethics discussions.

Differentiation, competitive advantage, might be gained by investing in digital ethics.

But, it should all be based on our values.

Do the right thing because we feel it is the right thing to do.

Real example. Workforce analytics. Someone comes to you with this proposal:

Let's pilot predictive analytics for flight risk ( ie looking at who might be thinking of leaving the company) using text analytics to mine emails, social media analytics, monitoring use of corporate computers and following productivity indicators. We expecting 60-70% accuracy! and are starting the pilot with offshore operations.

Would you approve this pilot?

Interesting discussion followed with the audience. Some points made: What would you do with the results. It feels wrong. What about false positives. Up to employees whether they leave. If it's transparent and employees know about it, could do it. Creates lazy management. If you care, treat people well. Generally people very unhappy with the suggestion.

Dataterminism. Because the data is there, we can use it.

Well known story about Google street view. As the car drove round taking pictures it collected data on wifi signals. Got fined in 12 countries. Their defence was they didn't do anything with the data, and it's publicly available.

The more open information is, the more careful you need to be with how you use it

Danger is seeing patterns which aren't there. An example of someon who loved cooking and gardening ordering scales and fertiliser form Amazon. Unwittingly these are two ingredients involved in drugs. This was their next set of recommendations


The concept that "the user is responsible" is being challenged. What is the definition of a user? If you use a hammer to kill someone, it's not the hammers fault. But, are we fully in control when we use technology?

As machines become smarter, we stop being users and become interactors. Who is responsible for the outcome of the interactions?

in Switzerland an art installation had a robot randomly buying things from the Internet. Unfortunately two of the things that got delivered included ecstasy tablets and a fake passport. Story here.

Sandra the Orang U Tang in an Argentine zoo was granted limited human rights when animal activists took out a court cases acing thatbwe'ce was being held captive against her will. First judge ruled that that there could be something as a non human person. Then overruled. But, when will a smart machine become a non human person, responsible for their own behaviour.



Mind unexpected consequences. There are always unintended consequences

Take responsibility. Monitor what's happening.

Be disciplined.



Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Bits and Pieces

Some of the other things I've been doing here at Gartner Symposium:

Went to a workshop yesterday on implementing Bimodal IT, a parallel form of implementing innovations. We looked in detail what the barriers to setting this up and getting it going are and how we might overcome them.

Meeting analysts and having one to one discussions with them. I've had three. One on student systems and what's happening in the market, very appropriate for us at the moment. One on Digital Strategies - should we have one, if so, what should it contain, and if not, how do we embed digital in our Univeristy strategy. And finally one on organisations, what makes them work well, structures, processes, policies etc. all extremely interesting and useful

I've also been to the exhibition, which is huge

Every evening they have a reception where they try and get you to their stand. This one with vodka poured through an ice sculpture worked quite well!


And I'm not sure who these were, but they were photobombed

And finally, I've been to. Couple of evening receptions which are a good opportunity to network with colleagues, and try new technology. I did get a go on an Oculus Rift which was set up to simulate a theme park ride. So realistic I had to keep closing my eyes!



Mobiles and wearables

There's always a lot at Sympsium, and I went to two sessions which were very interesting. One on the direction mobile is moving in, and one on wearables. The following is a summary of both sessions.

Seems to be general agreement that we are moving towards the post app area, where intelligent assistants (think Cortana and Siri) will provide control and automation and carry out takes for us without apps.

Technical trends affecting mobility:

Algorithms will drive innovation. One University has taken the accelerator information and can work out if you're happy or not! Weables can detect if your drinking by the movement of the accelerometer.

Device technologies matter less, supporting technologies matter more including electronics round the edge such as iBeacons

Social and political issues such as privacy, security, ethics will become more important

Services- mobile is an integral part of services such as Uber


Two platforms will dominate.

Smartphones - Apple and Samsung dominating with a long tail of small vendors. Some vendors will struggle

For platforms, iOS and android dominating. Be cautious of Windows 10 phones

Wireless getting more complex. No standards for IoT.

Who will drive the future of mobility? Different companies in different spaces:

Mobile and IoT will drive innovation. Some things already available: Selfie drones camera fastened to you wrist which can fly away to take a selfie). Smart beds. Smart furniture. Smart tags to track everything. Motorcycle helmet using smartphone to see what's behind you ( Skully)

App fatigue happening. Research says we are not downloading as many apps as we used to.

We should be using mobility to enable digital workplace innovation to create mobile digital workers.

One of biggest disruptions facing us is windows 10. Will hit us in 2016/17. Cortana is everywhere, on phones, tablets and PCs., and will be an integral part of it. Speaking to machines will be common place. Update model for windows 10 is very different. Need to start looking at it now,



So much more than smart watches. A lot more.

Head up displays. Displays in contact lenses. Smart clothing. Clothes that adjust to fit you.

Doppler, wear on wrist and keeps you awake and alert. Wearables for pets.

Smart finger nail

Smart dress with 10s thousands LEds

Smart bike helmet can fire air bag

EEG sensor wear on head can control games

At the moment, market is very immature. Low entry barriers with many innovators. Very fragmented technology, no standards. Rapidly evolving, things come and go, short life spans. Battery life still a problem. Useability and security challenges. Lot of current technology very proprietary.

New consumer habits will emerge.

Will be a huge market. 500m unit shipments by 2020. Will become mainstream consumer products. Prices will fall. Health and fitness wearables being subsided by health insurance companies.

Key trends

Android watches will be leading smart watch in terms of shipment numbers. Lower unit price. More open system.

Apple will have lower shipment numbers. But higher unit prices. More closed system.

Some proprietary niche/specialised vendors will appear and survive.

Biggest use case at moment is notification, glance able information. Discrete notifications Short messages, email headers, sms. Proximity alerts. Service alerts. navigation.




Tuesday, 10 November 2015

The Social CIO

First session this morning from the CIO of Health Service Ireland about using social media as a member of the leadership team.

Why would you use Social Media? Many different organisations to engage with, and all very different. They have opened up all social media channels, trained clinicians for example to write blogs, encouraged openness and transparency.

To succeed in the social age, follow this law, More Social, Less Media

IT department are going through a transformation from just providing services to being business change partners. They have used social media to aid communication with staff spread out over whole of Ireland

If you are a digital leader, you leave a digital footprint. 140 clinicians have volunteered to be digital information officers and use social media. Important that you are seen as real people. Encourage people to ask questions.

Authenticity is key. Real people. Don't recruit people to manage social media. But, challenge is to stop it being all about "me".

Be part of the hive mind. Share ideas, ask questions. Simple questions can start a good conversation.

Not always about putting information out there, but about conversations and answering questions. Comments have to be timely and authentic.

Emotional reputation is a big part of using social media. Can do serious damage. You need to know, like and trust the emotional reputation of your organisation. But, you still need to be a real person. It's an easy job done well, but it can go wrong. Whether you do it well or not, you take it with you.

Influence through feelings not through thinking.

Innovation very important. Innovation through accessing the width of the social mind. Clinicians have built different care pathways by sharing information between each other and patients.

Social media gets you out of the office . Exchanges with others creates innovation.

Social media can create an Eco system of fans, the clinicians who are interacting with IT department through social media are now a fan base, critical friends and advocates.

Can't ban social media, and equally can't make people use it.

What's the difference between good healthy debate and arguement? Has to be a balance. Lock social media away after more than one glass of wine :-) Are you representing your opinion, or your own? Are you sure you're right? If in any doubt, don't post it.

Why be social? Because it's part of making connections. Allows you to engage openly with the right people. Allows different groups to come closer together, to understand each other.

As CIOs become more business leaders and less about the technology, using social media will assist this

Social media is not a fad, it's a fundamental shift in the way we communicate. It's here, and you can use it or not.

If you write a social media strategy, you're immediately taking too much control. Teach people how to use it, benefits and risks, and then let them use it.

Mixing personal and corporate messages on Twitter is fine if you are comfortable with is as it paints a picture of a real person.

Good talk, and interesting to see how they are using social media in what has previously been a sensitive subject ie healthcare.


Monday, 9 November 2015

I met an astronaut!!

I was very lucky today to be invited to a lunch at which Commander Chris Hadfield was speaking. I've always been fascinated by space, space flight and exploration, which given that I'm scared of flying is interesting. Actually I'm not scared of flying, I'm scared of not flying...

Chris Hadfield is a world famous test pilot and astronaut who was commander of the International Space Station in 2013. He used social media to really bring the mission alive using Twitter and Facebook, and famously recorded a version of Bowie's Space Oddesey while he was up there.

He's a bit of a hero of mine....

His talk was literally awe inspiring, and was about rising to the challenge. How do you rise to the challenge of getting up one morning knowing that by the end of it you'll either be floating effortlessly round the world, or be dead. Apparently the odds of death during launch in the early days of the space shuttle were 1 in 38.

It was impossible to capture the talk in notes, but here are some snippets and pictures.


Driving to the launchpad of the shuttle in a bus with the other astronauts, with everyone else driving away from it. Basically they are getting as far away as possible from the bomb you're about to sit on.


The spacesuits are huge, and you have to crawl into the shuttle, which has many switches in it. It was built in the 70s with extremely limited computer power - everything had to fit in 128k of memory. So it is mostly manual with 500 switches. If you knock one, you're dead.


As you sit waiting to launch, you think, what's the next thing that could kill us. Be ready for the next threat, ignore what doesn't matter


There's no problem so bad you can't make it worse.


With the flick of a switch a situation can go from bad to dead very quickly


Showed an amazing video of the launch of a shuttle.



It burns 12 tons of fuel per second at lift off and has 80million horsepower. When those solid rocket boosters light, you're going somewhere.


His first simulator:


Give yourself a long term goal, and work out how you're going to get there.


The ISS travels 8km a second and goes round the earth in 92 mins. People have been living in it for 15 years


To cope, you have to Visualise failure. Relentlessly. Then work out what you do.


In space, Earth is just a Helpdesk. (This has to be one of my favourite quotes)


Two things to remember:

All machines eventually break

All simulators are wrong.


Told story of how they spotted a leak in the ISS and realised they were leaking ammonia which cools the station. If they didn't fix it they would have to abandon ship. Normally a space walk takes 8 days of preparation, but they did one with 12 hours notice, and fixed it. Only possible because they had visualised failure so much and prepared for it.


Whilst on ISS he took some remarkable pictures, and he came down into the audience to look at them with us.


Finished with a video of how the they land when they come down in the Soyuz capsule. A very hard landing!


An excellent talk, and I got my picture taken with him later. He told me he'd waved to me every night as the ISS had flown over my house. A charmer as well as a brilliant man!








Internet of Things

There's quite a few sessions at the conference about the Internet of Things. I've just been to one that started by asking the question, why should we work on the Internet of things? Should we be an IoT leader or laggard? Option is not do we want to do it, it's coming, but should we be leaders for it.

One of the things examined was the hype cycle for IoT. The hype cycle is a way Gartner explains how mature new technologies are. Basically OU start with a technology trigger or idea, and they hype around it quickly projects it to the peak of inflated expectations. It's going to solve all of our problems, do wonderful things. Then, when it doesn't deliver, it hurtles downward to the trough of disillusionment, where we think it will never work. Eventually, it climbs the curve of enlightenment where it reaches the plateau of productivity, effectively becoming mainstream. Some drop off along the way and never make it, some take longer than others. It's a good way of visualising where technologies are. It's clear from this one...

That most things are still not mature, and are the top of the hype. Including one of the things we're looking at implementing, iBeacons,

Lots of issues around data, both the amount that will be generated and collected, and the security, privacy and ethics around it.

Also issues around the platform, for the foreseEable future it will be best of breed solutions. There will be no single platforms or vendors.

So, what applications are there for IoT in what we do? We already use it to detect the status of our printers, we're looking at implementing iBeacons, but what else should we be looking at? It's really taking off in the consumer space, and perhaps we need to look there for ideas.


Opening keynote. It's all about the algorithm

Gartner Symposium kicking off in earnest today. 20 minutes to opening keynote, and already huge auditorium is almost full!

There's always a bit of a buzz in the room,as we wait to find out what messages we're going to get! Always a very professional and well rehearsed opening. Lots of loud music, video, animations...
And we're off.....
Digital business seems to be the message. CEOs need to focus on security, disruption and digital business.
CIOs more important than ever.
Interesting that security is first thing to be mentioned. Not surprising I suppose with recent events.


Message to business is that you need two business models. Analogue and digital. Digital commerce now worth one trillion euros annually. Need to bring virtual and physical worlds together. Successful businesses are creating innovation units running alongside traditional. Bimodal. Need new platforms. Mode 2 platform uses cloud. Less about data gathering but more about intelligent algorithms which act on the data.

Digital technology platform has to support digital initiatives in the organisation. Ownership of technology has shifted, less owned by central IT, Consumerisation, Internet of things etc has shifted IT into the business. CIOs have less control. This is not bad news. We have to be influencers, not controllers. Influence scales, control does not.

Algorithms are important now, not just collecting data. Algorithms define actions and business processes. Used by many apps, eg WAZE, driverless cars etc. In 5 years we will have our own algorithms in the cloud, virtual personal assistants. We are entering the post app era.

There are new risks emerging with these new technologies. By 2020 50% of large enterprises will have a Digital Risk Officer who manages IT, OT and IoT risk. Concern is not just protection from outside, but safety and quality. Think driverless cars.

Start with resilience. Simplify systems. Stable systems are more secure.

Detect and respond. Need to sense dormant threats before it is too late, and act on them.

Focus on people. People centric security. People are often the easy target. Many hacks start from people, eg phishing. Need to transform our cultures.

Move security more away from protection to more detect and respond on basis that hacking is here to stay!

Final part of keynote is about some practical examples of how we can change. Lots about the economics of connections. How we can leverage the interconnectivity of everything. Using the principal of give, take multiply. Make things, like big data, available for others to use. Take data from others, and then multiply your connections. Some interesting examples such as Tesla who have released their patents for their supercharger. Seems odd, but the more manufacturers use it, the more they are tied into to Tesla. Also examples from wearables. South African insurance company that rewards good behaviour, eg exercise, healthy eating etc, as measured by apple watch.

So, in order to progress, we have to get rid of some things:

Legacy fatalism - we can't do anything with these old systems

Ownership bias - we have to own everything. But, if someone can do something better then you, let them.

Cloud fear - cloud is unsafe, insecure. Actually Cloud systems are more secure than in-house ones. None of recent hacks were on cloud systems, and wouldn't have happened if they had been.

So, in summary, digital business is here. It's all about Bimodal, security and algorithms!




Sunday, 8 November 2015

Start of Gartner Symposium, Student Systems Landscape

I'm at the Gartner Symposium at the moment, a huge conference, covering all sectors, public, private, education. It's really interesting to rub shoulders and sit in sessions with CIOs and senior IT managers from many different companies. Having said that, the main session I went to today was specifically aimed at Higher Education, and was about the Student System landscape. As usual I'll try and get posts up thoughout the conference, so they will be in note form and please excuse the grammar, spelling and spacing as this blogging app keeps putting extra line spaces!

Student systems are old. Their average age according to a recent EDUCAUSE survey is 13 years. Many of them are heavily customised, especially older ones.

This survey from 2013 reported that few were thinking of changing. But more institutions are now thinking about replacing their student system, possibly because new players emerging.

We are on threshold of next generation SIS, this is their history:

  • Homegrown solutions arrived in 1980
  • Vended SIS emerged in 1990s, mainly best of breed
  • 2000 saw birth of ERP solutions
  • 2005 we had open source dreams. Some public approaches to building open source systems eg Kuali. $10m spent on open source system but not there yet.
  • 2015 on threshold of next generation of cloud based systems

Current SIS systems are like the Tin man in a yoga class- Very inflexible.

They also give a very poor user experience, and are Institution centric not student centric. Not surprising as most were originally written To automate back office functions. They have limited mobile or social functionality, are transaction orientated, and it is difficult to mine the data in them

Traditional business model support. Hard to support non traditional students and courses.

Heavy on premise footprint.

Increasingly costly to sustain.

All the above for something that often isn't perceived as being that good!

Over next few years the market will change. On supply side, new vendors entering the space, some original vendors are doing new things. New players coming from Asia. Not ready yet but will mature.

By 2017 at least 75% of new systems will be SaaS or cloud based

Through 2018 more than 10% of education institutions will adopt cloud based ERP offerings from India.

Vendos evolving their existing SIS include:

  • Campus management
  • Ellucian
  • Jenzabar
  • Oracle
  • SAP
  • Tribal

Vendors building new SIS systems include:

  • Jenzabar
  • Kuali
  • Oracle. New SIS being built specifically to manage non traditional programmes etc
  • SAP
  • Unit4 (acquired three rivers systems). Developing a new system, cloud based. Will be launched in January 2016.
  • Workday. 2 years into building a student system.

Emerging solutions coming from Asia Pacific region.

CIOs need to consider whether their strategy is it to refresh, replace or renovate ( throw out what's bad, keep what's good, buy new modules)

Student system is deconstructing. If you were starting today would you build something to cover everything? Probably not. Current systems are not just big, they're bloated.

People are building modules, eg for admissions, often on top of CRM such as workforce.

Are new admissions platform being developed in the UK eg Full Fabric

Monolithic ERP/SIS suites willgive way to cloud based modules for things like enrolment, recruitment, curriculum management, records and registration, course evaluation

We will need different architectures and integrations. Loosely coupled systems which are flexible and agile.

At same time, components are getting richer. Being built on modern technology including:

  • SAAS
  • Flexible
  • Native CRM
  • Real time analytics
  • Modular design
  • Standards based
  • Data interoperability
  • SOA
  • Supporting non traditional students and courses

There's a lot of investment in educational technology and with a blurring of borders around SIS, CRM. LMS, there are New business model opportunities emerging.

We should expect to be working with more and smaller vendors

The ERP mega suite vendors should not dominate our strategy

Use this HOOF model to work out where we are, where we are heading, and what we could do differently.

Integration strategy is key. Will need multiple integration technologies. IT has a major responsibility for it, but the business needs to be involved.

Look at business process outsourcing as a possible solution in some areas.

Analytics is going to be very important:

Two very important take home points:

Review legacy vendor road maps, but watch and evaluate emerging vendors.

Don't let a single ERP vendor dominate


Excellent talk, and very relevant for us at the moment!


Thursday, 5 November 2015

Gratuitous cat picture....

As well as a lot of catch up meetings this week, I've spent quite a lot of time judging the Amber Miro award.  Amber was a great character, chair of the UCISA Support Services group, wore the most amazing red lipstick, had an amazing ability to innovate and motivate, but sadly died far too young in 2012.

This award was set up to in her memory, and is intended to reward innovation. This year we asked for the submissions to be in the form of a video - so I've spent some very enjoyable time this week watching and scoring them. There were some cracking ideas, and some great videos. Will announce winners on here when I can!

Other things so far this week include a meeting with our JISC account manager, and a liaison meeting with our our estates department.

This is a bit of a short post, so I'll leave you with a picture of two of my cats. One fat one asleep on my bed, and one looking at me intently, trying to will me to get out of bed and feed him. He failed.