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use of power and influence. Finally, on Thursday, Dr Sue Black

UCISA 2014

Dr Christine Sexton (pictured below), Director of Corporate Information and Computing Services, University of Sheffield, takes a look ahead to the UCISA 2014 Conference

AS CIOS AND IT Directors of higher education institutions we face constant pressures and challenges from the external environment we now live in. The consumerisation of IT, the

huge increase in number and diversity of mobile devices and the expectation of always being connected has led to a huge rise in customer expectations for our services. This comes at a time when our budgets are under pressure and additional resources are scarce. IT is critical to all our institutions, both

in providing the basic infrastructure to run the main business functions, but also in helping the institution adapt to challenges and pressures, to do things differently, in more efficient ways, and to provide a beter experience to our customers. The main UCISA Conference is

unique in bringing together CIOs, IT Directors and their senior teams from all HEIs to learn from each other, to network, to discuss challenges with suppliers, and to hear leading speakers from both inside and outside the sector. The agenda is constructed following consultation and feedback from members and aims to be relevant to IT departments and their institutions and to address strategic issues. We are fortunate this year in having a

number of exciting keynote speakers, as well as University and Business showcases

and a formal poster session. Our opening keynote is Gerry Pennell,

formerly CIO of LOCOG, who was responsible for delivering the IT for the London Olympics in 2012. Gerry is now IT Director at the University of Manchester, and will be sharing his experiences of what happened during the Olympics, and how they relate to HE. On the second day we are very fortunate

to have Clay Shirky over from the US. Clay is a well respected writer, consultant and teacher who specialises on the social and economic effects of internet technologies. His talk will cover various leadership challenges facing HE globally. Following that Simon Fanshawe will

be telling us about How to be a star techie, covering diversity, leadership and culture change in HE. If you want to learn more about how IT

can support researchers, then a double header from Heidi Fraser-Krauss, Head of IT, and Professor Thomas Krauss, Professor of Photonics, both from the University of York should interest you. A certain frisson might be generated by the fact that they are also married to each other! Paul Gentle from the Leadership

Foundation will be talking about Engaging stakeholders with courage, building collaborative partnerships whilst sustaining an appetite for risk which will be relevant to many of us. He will be followed by Colin Gautry, from the Gautry Group, who specialises in thought leadership and the practical

will draw on her life experiences which include pulling herself out of poverty as a young single mother by studying technology, championing the fight to save Bletchley Park and founding Techmums, an initiative to breach the digital divide between mothers and their children. The professionalisation of IT, including

the introduction of service management techniques such as ITIL is something many of us are involved with. Key to the successful introduction of service management is your service definition in terms that your senior managers understand, and which demonstrates the value of what we do. Simon Mingay from Gartner will deliver Friday morning’s opening session which will give practical advice on how to write a service portfolio, including things to avoid. Rapid changes in technology and

customer demands are a challenge facing all of us, so we have two sessions focusing on innovation. David Coplin from Microsoft will give us a look at what education might look like in the future: Education reimagined. Then we have Linda Davidson, who began her career as an actress (most famously as Mary the Punk in Eastenders), then moved into digital design, developed the first BBC websites, launched E4 and became European IT Director for Discovery networks. She will be speaking on innovation in IT, latest trends and how we can distinguish ourselves from our competitors. Ultimately, what we are all trying to

deliver is excellent customer service, whether to our students, our staff or our partners. The Conference will close with Alex Hunter, who was Head of Online for the Virgin Group, talking about Customer experience in the digital age – how technology helps us get and keep loyal customers. So, not only a star studded line up

of speakers, but extremely relevant to the issues and challenges we are facing. Add to this the exhibition, where 80 of our Corporate members will be showcasing their latest products and be available to chat to, the great social programme (which includes a fairground event in the Brighton Dome), and the excellent opportunities for networking with colleagues. I hope you agree that this is a conference you really should atend. I’ve enjoyed being a part of the organising commitee, and I hope to see many of you in Brighton in March. ET

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