General unfocussed rambling thoughts, whilst buffeted by the winds of Brighton.

Overall elephant in the conference clearly exposed as the financial situation – so a lot of talk about ‘more with less’, ‘cheaper & better’ etc. Sussex FD/Allan Spencer – Funding in Turbulent Times. Conclusions: need to undertake a really hard examination of delivery, explore new models: key to success is understanding where to invest & where to commoditise. Sussex VC/Professor Michael Farthing. 8 objectives – probably the same as a lot of others – all very commendable, but if everybody does the same, all end up in the same place – which may not be a sustainable position.

Interesting statistics from UCAS on the ‘move to mobile’: 36.9% of applicants have smart phones. 39% use social networking on same. 90% using social networking on something (Facebook). But email is not dead! – just one of a mix of tools. By 2014 mobile devices surpass PCs/laptops for Internet access.

Eduserv/Cloud. Benefits of moving Data Centre to the cloud – probably none if recent refit/up to date, but should consider when refitting, & does move all costs of keeping up to date to the supplier including skills – but of course all needs to be paid for. What wasn’t mentioned was the benefit of 24/7 cover.

Very useful panel session on moving email to the Cloud: key points:
– Students wanted it/wanted storage space
– Google because students didn’t like Microsoft
– Excellent student experience, seamless migration, reduction in Helpdesk calls

But – cheaper &/or better can be only justification, & case not proven. Also – if (anecdotally) 40% of our students don’t use University email, would they use University-provided outsourced email? Or would a better solution be to simply collect student’s own email addresses & not provide email at all? & did institutions that have gone to the Cloud have a quality student email service in the first place? This will need a little (?) more thought…

Heidi Fraser-Krauss: entertaining trip through past present & future. Interesting point on increasing number of moves from Blackboardc to Moodle – because institutions haven’t got value from the former; but is this because of something inherent in the product, or the way that it’s used? Also good point that the focus should be on new/alternative methods of delivery, not just shared services, which are simply one approach; & referenced again that Robert Gordon University are looking at outsourcing everything. Intrigued that focus on business processes seen as recent, not on the agenda ten years ago…my job description when I started at LJMU in 1998 included responsibility for business process review…we’ve been focussing on business processes forever.

& last but not least, Flexible Service Delivery! Wilbert Kraan/JISC -CETIS. Good analysis of Enterprise Architecture – the thing (organisational structure, business processes, information systems & infrastructure), everyone’s got one even if they don’t give it much thought; & the practice – principles, methods, & modelling, a structure for thinking about the thing. Excellent session, guess I’m a bit close to the whole thing to get much out of it….having run two 45 minute birds of a feather slots on FSD yesterday, I think I’ve temporarily lost my capacity for rational thought in relation to the subject.

& then a rapid exit before the motivational final, not wanting to destroy what has been overall a very pleasant & useful event.


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