Thursday, 17 March 2016

Minecraft, flying solaris boxes and a telling off.

We had some excellent talks this morning. Started with Michael Stephenson from Northumbria University who talked about using cloud services to implement two speed or bimodal IT. He had some nice demos of using Minecraft to prototype services, and even demonstrated a service status page in Minecraft which sent a firework up when there was an outage. He challenged us to think about what 10 year olds will expect from IT when they come to university. Some are already coding in Minecraft. His talk is here.

Next up was Paul Boag who challenged us to think differently about digital transformation. Paul has been to Sheffield to help us set up a digital transformation team, and as usual was lively, fun, and provocative. If you want to see a room full of IT people being told off, watch his talk.
He talked about students as consumers, and how we're all one disgruntled student away from a PR disaster. They all have a voice and will complain loudly about poor service. He chhallenged us to think about whether we're in denial as a sector about how our business model might need to change because of disruptive technologies. A bit like Blockbuster and Kodak were. Too many of us are dabbling in digital transformation and not doing it properly. One organisation which has it right is UCAS who are really embracing it. To be really digital, we need to stop long term planning the Government Digital Service doesn't plan more than 8 months ahead. It was a great talk, and I think his message needs to heard by all senior managers in Universities. Especially his final question - how much do e spent on our digital estate, compared to out physical?
He has a page of resources about digital transformation in HE, which is really useful.

After the break, Simon Moores on cybersecurity - chillingly entitled, "It's not if but when..." You can watch it here. He started by talking about how much stuff runs on old technology. Apparently  planes are just flying solaris boxes. I didn't like flying before.... He talked a lot about risk, and I particularly liked this apparently real question on Quora:

Something that was mentioned a number of times in the conference, is that in terms of cybersecurity, the emphasis is moving away from prevent and protect, to detect and respond. Analysing patterns of behaviour, machine learning, analytics, all important techniques we will have to ue.

Final session this morning was Paul Feldman from JISC talking about the future direction of JISC. JISC provides many services that underpin everything we do - our network Janet, access to publications, and lots of specialist advice and guidance. As the funding model for JISC changes, and we move to an opt-in subscription service, JISC will be working with us to provide the best possible digital services. His talk is here.

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