Tag Archives: Leadership

Digging a hole with Enterprise Architecture #entarchs

Some Sunday morning rambling & a couple of old Dilbert cartoons which may be pertinent & should at least be a amusing…

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So, you know the scenario. You’re in there with the senior management team & they want an answer to the question: why should we invest in this thing called Enterprise Architecture?

& the answer is: I dunno; or, you tell me; or maybe, you shouldn’t.

Because they are, of course, asking the wrong question. They should be saying: how do we improve our customer experience? Or, how do we reduce the cost of procurement? Or, how do we decide what we could target as shared services? Or…a thousand other critical business questions. To any or all of which EA may be part of the answer.

But you’ve been invited along to a meeting to explain why they need EA. So you’ve come to the wrong meeting.

& because they’re asking the wrong question, you’ll probably have to give them the wrong answer.

& you can’t directly tell them they’re asking the wrong question. Well, go for it if you feel like it. After all, they’re only senior management…

There’s a lot of discussion in EA circles about how exactly do we sell EA to senior management? & the answer is, of course, you don’t.

You don’t sell someone a spade if they don’t know they need to dig a hole. At least, I hope not – don’t want to be in the snake oil business. So senior management need to know what problems EA will solve, or what new opportunities EA can open up – they need to see what bigger better hole they can dig (themselves into?) with this shiny new implement (maybe not the best analogy, then, but you have to start somewhere).

So EA isn’t always the answer – it depends on the question, & you have to make sure the right questions are being asked then you can make sure you have the right answers.

So in that meeting, you need to get them to ask the right questions – ‘I dunno’ may be a pretty good first answer – followed by, you tell me what you need to do, & then I’ll tell you if EA can help you do it. Or, maybe not…because…

If you’re an Enterprise Architect, you might think EA is always the answer, or at least part of it – & I agree, you’re probably right. But the best way to test a hypothesis is to assume that you’re wrong – & maybe the customer doesn’t really need to dig a hole, at least, not until they’ve chopped down that tree. Great thing about EA is, it’s more like a Swiss Army knife than an axe or a spade – but if the customer only wants to dig that hole or chop down that tree, some kind of multitool might seem like overkill. So, find that hole that needs digging, use EA to help it get dug, & then…

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#fote13 Future of Technology in Education 2013

October 11th, Senate House, University of London, for this year’s FOTE. Random commentary:

Morning

Nicola Millard/Customer Experience Futurologist, BT: Clouds, Crowds & Customers. @docnicola. Customers. Students = consumers? The ‘Why can’t everyone be as easy as Amazon?’ syndrome. Critical: reduction of effort in things that have to do but don’t really value. Can we be as easy as Amazon to do business with? What is easy – what is business. Easy: reduce cognitive effort (finding stuff); physical (going places); emotional (frustration); time (ubiquitous impatience). Easy impacts vfm. Omnichannel customers – how do we manage customers who skip around channels. Link app, website, phonecall, email, F2F? How? Crowds. Collaboration – used to be called cheating. Ref: the prosthetic mind. No longer send naughty child to their bedroom, just where they want to be – <but wasn’t that the case years ago? Need to be very clear on what is really new, & what just appears new but fundamentally isn’t…definition of new?> Clouds. F2F can’t be replaced. <but who says it can/should be?> Seeing incredible flexibility in workspaces <but are most people seeing this? Again, have been hearing this for years…>

Alicia Wise/Director of Universal Access, Elsevier: Open Access: Challenges, Possibilities, Future Outlook. Developing business model. Rapid rise in R&D leads to rise in research, need for easy way to get it all out there <paraphrase!> Research = increasingly interdisciplinary; internationally collaborative & mobile; big data intensive.

Gwen Noteborn/Researcher, Maastricht University: Webcasts in Education: Mythbusters! Head of edl@b. Using mediasite/sonic foundry. Video collaboration software…The truth about webcasting! Is knowledge lost in translation? Research found not. Appreciation of/connection to teacher may be. Afraid seems to be just churning out a bunch of research results – most of findings intuitively available anyway. Will online recording replace F2F? No – social aspect. <Well, no, not comparing eggs with eggs, chalk & cheese, apples & pairs & all that – should have learnt from myth of TV replacing cinema – they are different things!>

Q&A: I only have one so far that I really won’t ask – “So, what else is new?”

CIO Fireside Chat. Yousuf Khan/CIO, Hult International Business School (Chair); Adrian Ellison/Director of IT, UWL; Richard Maccabee/Director, ULCC; Heidi Fraser-Krauss/IT Director, York; Cathy Walsh, Principal & CEO, Barking & Dagenham College. RM: trends – tensions between IT & T&L perspectives? HFK: can do technology change, but behavioural change hasn’t happened. <Doing Digital> AE: does Cloud change behaviours? <IT Governance/Weill & Ross – ‘to encourage desirable behaviour in the use of IT’> Staff – have encouraged behavioural change in students without changing themselves. CW: modelling value-based behaviours, senior management walking the talk. HFK: deliver systems, don’t think about what the person at the other end is doing, enough. AE: be sure that you really have senior management (& other) engagement. How do we decide what technology to choose? CW: not about technology. HFK: only interested in what it can do for me, just want it to work. <Useful, usable, & used> What’s exciting? HFK: ease of use. AE: gap between choice of tools/new students & tools in use in HE. HFK: death of email? Can twitter/facebook replace? What can? CW: simplicity & openness. Open access. HFK: easy & just works = requirement. AE: technology & stress. Stress – when delivered without ease of use. RM: factors for success. Formula for change: dissatisfaction with status quo, vision of goal, tangible first step. Advice for changemakers: AD – engagement & communication. SAMO. HFK: the way we see the world isn’t necessarily how recipients of solution see the world – solve their problem, not yours. Shouldn’t assume you know. CW: communication. Don’t just engage with one set of stakeholders. RM: humble & brave; single-minded & flexible. Avoid bunker mentality. Q&A: should we be less flexible? RM: in danger of losing flexibility but need to deliver services. Tricky balance. Innovation: management & staff blame each other for lack of innovation, but technology has changed everything, how do we shift? IT role to tease it out & play it back. <probably management want efficiency & staff want effectiveness> CW: senior management humility, again walk the talk, don’t take themselves too seriously, senior management disconnected = huge blockage.

Afternoon

<insert photograph of woman in blue lycra bodysuit & wig>

Technology in Education – The Case Against/Lindsay Jordan, Senior Lecturer, University of the Arts. The Cup Song from PitchPerfect – wasn’t expecting that…demonstrates how great the internet is for short bite-sized focused bits of learning. Then piano! – not learnt on internet, impossible (?) & also parentally not self-motivated. Some loss when not in an F2F environment. So what’s the difference? With F2F:

  • Space for the purely social. Time off task. Architected social spaces.
  • Forging (forcing) relationships, very hard to hide.
  • Reduced flexibility/reduced choice. Flexibility about when & where do stuff is not always a good thing. How to focus in the age of distraction.
  • Very hard to resolve problems online.
  • Online communication can bring out the worst in people. Lack of presence makes it easy to be a bit rubbish. Alone Together – Sherry Turkle.
  • Eventedness: synchronicity, uniqueness, movement, difference, aesthetics. One night only.
  • Sacrifice/commitment

How do we bring it back? Harvard – SPOCS (Small Private Online Courses) not MOOCS. Interventions in physical world.

Interesting stuff!

Revolution – Include Me!

Martin King/Head of IT services at Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College (EHWLC). Enabling the disconnected to get online – here comes everybody. Biodiversity versus monoculture – education fosters the latter. Average is not normal. <but Steve Vai is not a great guitarist imho> Anyone can play guitar? Mmmm – yeah, but…anyone can learn how to play guitar, not the same thing. A mind is like a parachute, it doesn’t work unless it’s open – Frank Zappa. What happens with technology mediated culture? Exponential effects of network connectivity. Different, anyway!

Research data – bothersome burden or treasure chest? Kevin Ashley/Director, Digital Curation Centre.

Data deluge will oustrip the ability of technology to deal with it. Data must be recoverable to be reused.

A game of two halves – afternoon much more interesting stuff. & that’s me done & off down t’pub…

UCISA 2013 Day 2 Session 2 #ucisa13

Maximise the capability of your greatest resource – Gareth Cahill/BCS. What, a whole session about paperclips? What if I invest in my staff & they leave? or – what if I don't invest in my staff & they stay? Who's done the BCS thing? – St Andrews, Loughborough, University of the Arts. Merging SFIA with HERA/HAY. Good structure & stuff, bit dry, just needs doing – hell, why woudn't you want to understand your skills base & develop your staff?

Transforming leadership of your IT Service – from IT Director to CIO – Albert Ellis/Harvey Nash. The transformational CIO. Change ahead – well, it generally is. What is priority for CEO – save or make money. All CIOs – 62% make, 38% save; HE 47%/53%. CIOs feel 21% less important than did 5 years ago – is this necessarily a bad thing? Just realised I've seen this before…what attributes does CIO need? Vision high, blue sky thinker low; listening high/emotional intelligence low – contradiction? New normal? What? Skills to succeed: need to understand new business models, how technology can open up new channels with the customer; key point: make it easier for senior management to do their jobs; breakthrough thinking; simplify & articulate complex processes/technology & get things done in practice.

UCISA 2013 Day 2 #ucisa13

Students as producers of IT departments – Dan Derricott, Lincoln. Student engagement – we need to engage with students. Does your IT service engage with the student voice? Not enough! – but have to recognise that there are student voices, rather than 'a' student voice – engage with the diversity, Students Union can be helpful but probably not comprehensive. 1968 – students became more than students. Could not have imagined what they were going to get – but can institutions engineer this experience? Need to create an environment in which it can happen – but you can take a horse to water…Systematic engagement of students.

A CFO & an IT Director in conversation – Bob Rabone & Chris Sexton, Sheffield. Think about money. What is the point of an accountant? IT joke: people who solve a problem you didn't know you had, in ways that you don't understand: serious point, get better at explaining what you're doing. 3 reasons for doing something: cheaper, better, or income generating. Make sure you can explain in those terms. What do IT Directors want? Budgets that go on for more than a year. A procurement officer who understands IT procurement. Savings that come back to the department. Can get capital but can't get staff – get stuff but can't do anything with it…Thinking, Fast and Slow: Daniel Kahneman

(A thought, apropos of something: the psychopathology of organisations – identify a problem; create a job to solve the problem; perpetuate the problem; go back to the top of the slide (we are in Liverpool, after all…))

 

UCISA 2013 – Liverpool 13th-15th March Day One #ucisa13

Usual rambling commentary, impressions, interventions…

VC's Question Time. Chair: Peter Gallimore, former producer of BBC Today programme, with Nigel Weatherill, Liverpool John Moores, Howard Newby, Liverpool, & John Coyne, Derby.

  1. 24/7 support? John Coyne: critical platform for core mission. Hard to resolve: don't want shift systems. Need colleagues to appreciate the service delivery. Nigel Weatherill: need to ensure that we have resilient, quality systems to minimise downtime. Howard Newby: not what we want, but what students want. Have to operate in different timezones. Question from floor: how do you go about ensuring 24/7, instead of just hoping for it? Weatherill: comparison with 24/7 health support – need to look at new methods of service delivery, interacting with professionals from other sectors. Q from floor: outsourcing? Google/Microsoft. What wouldn't you outsource? Newby: commodity support vs. personalised service. Weatherill: educationally led institution but have to run on business principles. IT can be a differentiator – might outsource the basics, retain that which is specific to values and vision of LJMU for students. Coyne: need to put together set of best-in-class components that meet individual needs (EA perhaps?) – then make decisions about what you contract for & what you keep inside.
  2. Q from Tim Marshall (different subject): need to preserve but also open up information resources – open access. Newby: wholly in favour. Why should work which is publicly funded not be publicly accessible? Weatherill: also in favour; what would keep him awake at night? FOI & research data. When do the outcomes go into the public domain? Research needs opportunity to mature before enters open access. Coyne: direction is open access. Also concerned about FOI industry.
  3. Should IT Director be at the top table? Weatherill: at LJMU that person does sit at top table, but has wider brief – important thing is that they understand the business. Newby: senior team meetings always very large; how to configure academic & service structures. Basically, no. Coyne: should Director have early & influential strategic voice? Yes. Not necessarily helpful to talk about top table; can get Derby senior team round a stool. Consensus: need influence/access, not necessarily seat. Coyne: someone who can understand the purpose of the institution, map it to the capabilities of IT, and articulate it. Transparency of senior team activities? Weatherill: about communication. LJMU cascade approach – senior team to leadership team to staff. Needs middle-up-down management – recognition of key role of middle manager – Japanese approach. Newby: growth of less collegial, more business/competitive approach. All engaging in activities we wouldn't want competitors to have early sight of.
  4. Is HE a business? Coyne: stakeholders (students) are far more important than shareholders would be. Need to be business-like in efficient & effective delivery. Weatherill: educational institution that needs to be run on business principles. Driven by strategic framework. Newby: have to be business-like in terms of being efficient & effective – but also values-driven, belief in greater knowledge contributing to social progress. Need to be increasingly attentive to stakeholders – Ivory Tower is over.
  5. Q from Twitter: how do you get input from student body? & how important is NSS. Newby: embed NSS in more broad ranging/sensitive assessment. Days are gone when we knew what students ought to want. Weatherill: QAA Conference, Edinburgh – a lot about student engagement. Suggestion that student feedback needs to be systematised – but so much formal/informal that just happens. Coyne: unique programme representative system, annual Q&A, University held to account. Ignore the student voice at your peril – students good at holding up honesty mirror.
  6. Q from floor: an avalanche is coming? Newby: MOOCs – threat or opportunity? What is unique to University? Ability to award a degree – apart from that almost everything can be done by somebody else. Also – personalised service difficult to deliver in online experience. Also: what are students buying? Some, information & knowledge; some, a brand – are MOOCs strong enough. Can they address the social objectives of HE as opposed to just the economic ones. Future = blended learning, but be careful how you blend. Weatherill: what is the currency of a MOOC? HE currency: standards & accreditation. Coyne: a destructive technology or just the latest fashion that invites us to question ourselves? Newby: IT does mass bits, Socratic dialogue for rest (at least I think that's what he meant!)

 

UCISA Cloud Computing Review – 31/10/12 Nottingham #uccr

Usual random notes that may be of interest…see Programme for access to presentations.

Simon Marsden/Edinburgh: Introduction

What’s in/what is a cloud? Standard definition. Gartner view: high security, privacy or competitive advantage – otherwise outsourced or offsite. But myths abound:

  • Costs will be predictable – not to start with!
  • Costs will be lower – no!
  • More resilient – if you make it so
  • Disaster recovery – as above
  • Assured performance – or noisy neighbours?
  • Don’t know where data is? – probably do

User perspective: I get what I want; it just works.

CIO challenges: not too many – scale, exit strategy, data loss, how to charge, integration. & need to be seen as part of the solution, not an obstruction to be bypassed.

Things to look at: Coursera, learning platform for MOOCS; Office 365; Unidesk shared helpdesk; elastic cloud; trust; app store; reliability; green.

Agility: key issue. Running MOOCS with Coursera for over 100k students, quick deployment. Important to be there at the start, couldn’t have done it themselves.

Technology Enhanced Learning cloud – hybrid of supported through to non-supported, but provided within app store – flexible way of choosing tools.

Resilience – Site24x7, full scale monitoring.

So Cloud enables: swift innovation, reduced costs, greater choice for users. Not an option: can be difficult to understand, needs leadership.

Great start!

Richard Maccabee/ULCC: Delivering cloud services to the sector: ULCC’s experience of the range of options

Is it good use of public money for every HEI to have its own data centre? (or two…) – probably not, but is it public money anymore? All about services to paying customers, perhaps, perhaps sadly.

Approach: OS; shared services; vendor partnerships; evolutionary; hybrid: supplier, based in the community.

Service portfolio includes middleware & applications: ESB; Digitary (DARE!); Agresso Finance System, for about 10 institutions.

About 300 customers, across the sector & significant number of FE.

Issue: single data centre, in London – not good choice. So second site commissioned for 12/13, & looking at partner for Cloud IaaS. ULCC data centre will become point of presence for the Cloud. First bid submitted for provision of full IaaS for FE college.

MMU: very good student-focused VLE built around Moodle but including distributed services.

Drivers: mobile; BYOD/DIY; increased customer expectations; SOA ref Nexus ESB/DARE/Digitary, important for SaaS. Looking into Student Systems. <oh right, hosted then?>

Good that SOA – & to my mind hence EA – still seen as key component.

Ed Carter/Leeds: YHMAN – A Data Centre Without Walls!

Not Ed’s fault, but have a feeling I may have heard this before!

8 Universities collaborating in shared virtual data centres: enable economies of scale, balance asset utilisation, meet carbon reduction commitments, enable growth, enhance service standards, adhere to stringent security arrangements. Built on JANET/YHMAN network. Not that far away! & JANET6 increases potential reach/scalability. Storage for research, big data; HPC capability.

So essentially, promise of Cloud = ‘EaaS’: Everything as a Service. The Virtual University – the ‘University In A Box’?

Pleasantly surprised, if I’ve understood this right, by transition of technical/network staff into service support. Backed up by supplier support – HP.

It works!

Shan Rahulan/janet: Janet Brokerage

Set up to: promote cloud; reduce hurdles to adoption; create efficiencies. Like YHMAN, applying network approaches to data centres/services.

Usual drivers as previously referenced; also noted that adoption/governance is formative, & integrating clouds not straightforward. Customers are in the Cloud space, institutions/IT depts aren’t (entirely, yet).

Cost savings: not proven; current costs not understood, so savings hard to define. Hard to compare like with like.

Working with BUFDG, UCISA, JISC & UUK on modelling costs – which should be helpful!

Also looking at Amazon & Dropbox to establish a sector offer.

Olly Butters/Leicester: Building BRISSkit on the Eduserv Cloud

BRISSkit – Biomedical Research Infrastructure Software Service kit. Funded by UMF Cloud initiative to deliver in the Eduserv Cloud.

Good practical example of delivery of a service in the Cloud.

Cloud challenges – like ‘Hard to give up hardware – I can’t go and kick it’. Interesting thought – can you kick a cloud?

Working through governance issues/toolkits.

Mini Panel Session: Shan Rahulan; Ed Carter; Olly Butters: Matt Johnson/Eduserv

What are the barriers? People still want their servers on their site (‘Can you kick it?’ ref A Tribe Called Quest, perhaps). Again, internal services not fully costed/full costs not understood.

Simon Marsden: you need a burning platform – agree entirely. For Edinburgh, this is agility. Must be a real business/service driver because otherwise won’t want to meet the costs of change – cost saving not enough.


Stephen Booth/Coventry: A Managed Storage Service on a Hybrid Cloud

Can no longer do ‘just an IT project’ – I thought it was quite a while since you ever could? Business not IT initiative. Business drivers: cost reduction; flexibility; enhanced support; DR. Importance of supplier/partner relationship – joint customer/partner management of project & service delivery – partner will not let it fail: so have to make sure they have some skin in the game.

John Waters/University of West London: The North Face of Office 365

The University formerly known as TVU. 12 years on the HEFCE at-risk register. Rebranded as UWL April 2011. Bit of a mess of overlapping/inconsistent systems for student services.

Wanted to move to functional Cloud-based Student Portal & facilities, rich use, back end integration, SSO, IDM etc.

Approach: generated SMT buy-in through Microsoft-led activities at TVP. Project team. Focus groups. Piloting & proofs of concept. Got some help! (Fulcrum). 3 parallel work streams: infrastructure; IDM & data migration; portal design & back-end integration, Agile/Scrum, .net into O365 Sharepoint.

How does it work? Create accounts in Cloud (SIS = Capita Unit-e) along with authentication. FIM & ADFS. Systems Integration – .net to Sharepoint. Some use of Lync.

What’s in it? See presentation.

Content & administration issues ref content from Schools. Feedback from students – overlap with groups in Facebook. Systems integration: interestingly, no harder than doing on-site.

We did it (within 5 weeks) & students like it. Say no more. & next Phase 2 – mobile, Lync, staff email, SSO for VLE & SIS, distance learning, etc. Phase 3 – August 2013 – further data integration, social features, business portals.

Fulcrum Worldwide for site customisations & systems integration.

Useful day – & now, publish & be damned, & out of here to catch that slow train to Southport…

#SCONUL12 Summer Conference 14th June 2012

Made a brief appearance on behalf of UCISA at the Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL) Summer Conference, held at the Hilton Hotel in Liverpool, for a panel session on sharing best practice in evaluation strategies – along with Kitty Inglis, University Librarian at Sussex, and Karel Thomas, Executive Director of the British Universities Finance Director’s Group (BUFDG). Plus a surprisingly large – standing room only – and vocal audience, and great chairing from Sara Marsh, SCONUL Vice Chair and Director of Learner Support Services at the University of Bradford.

I expected a rather dry session on what looked like a rather dry subject, but far from it! Each panel member gave their 5 minute view of the area, followed by a surprisingly lively discussion. Following bullet points are the usual vague, inaccurate and repositioned recollection of some of what was said:

  • Kicked off talking about ITIL for Service Management/Evaluation & Programme Management/Benefits Realisation for evaluation of development
  • Projects deliver the capability to do things differently; benefits management tries to make sure that we do do things differently
  • Particular challenge when the benefits have to be realised in changes in ways of working in areas outside of the management control of the project/programme – even more of a problem for JISC programmes where the benefits have to be realised in a different organisation
  • Information services need to be useful, usable and used (thank you JISC) – benefits are in the used part, needs more focus
  • UCISA/SCONUL collect a lot of statistics, but are they the right ones/much use?
  • When we evaluate, are we hard enough on ourselves?
  • Need to look at LEAN – being looked at more in the sector
  • Benchmarking – not enough effort goes into establishing where we’re starting from, which makes it hard to evaluate how far we’ve travelled
  • Strategy maps – important to make sure we retain the connection between institutional level objectives and project/programme outputs (benefits mapping could also be applicable here)
  • Need to get closer to our Finance colleagues – our Finance colleagues need to get out more – investment appraisal, cost benefit analysis and all that stuff needs to be shared venture between Finance, supplier departments and stakeholders
  • Do we make enough use of our suppliers, for their strategic input rather than just the functionality of their products?
  • & finally, pointer to what looks like a very useful report from the US Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) – Value of Academic Libraries Summit White Paper – which I shall read when I get the chance.

So – great session, poor summary from me, looked like a really good conference, and wish I could have stayed…