KPMG hosted an “informal breakfast meeting” to discuss the “CIOs’ view of the challenges faced by the Public Sector”, with John Suffolk (Government CIO) as Guest Speaker, at their Salisbury Square offices. Most attendees were Government CIOs or private sector CEOs, or KPMG executives.

Mike More, CEO of Westminster City Council, was the other Local Government representative. Unsurprisingly, data sharing and data security dominated the discussion.

There were no great insights, although I was very struck by John’s observation on Microsoft “Live Update” – the gist of which, if I understood correctly, was that 750m PCs worldwide are auto-updated each month (many without their owners realising it), which, cumulatively, are likely to represent all the challenges represented by the systems we run in Government, so why is it that we are so risk averse when it comes to applying updates, and insist on expensive destruction testing before they’re applied?

It’s an argument that I have often tried, but much less eloquently, with technical staff, but always lost miserably!

At Direct House, Geoff held a fact-finding meeting with Newham ICT colleagues and Microsoft experts to develop Newham’s detailed identity management/role-based access requirements. I put in a brief appearance as I was keen to ensure that Government initiatives that I’ve learned about were being reflected, and also to try and stay up-to-date with Newham developments!

After which, I had a meeting with Michiel Van Der Voort, the British Computer Society’s International Director, and the recently retired Peter Ryder, who took delight in telling me he’d been relaxing, reading his paper, in the sunshine on the Embankment, at the BCS offices in Covent Garden.

The object was to discuss international co-operation/ collaboration ahead of the forthcoming LOLA Annual Conference, at which Peter is continuing to represent Socitm.

There were two main areas of agreement… to collaborate internationally on professional development, recognising that around 80% of requirements are generic, but the other 20%, in the Public Sector, are sector-specific, playing to LOLA Societies’ expertise… and developing shared vision – not just managing the here and now, but articulating future goals, according to the best information we have today, enabling more focussed strategy and better tactics.

In case you missed the Socitm broadcast, “at last there's a dedicated online job service for public sector information technologists seeking new positions and for public sector organisations looking to employ them”. We hope, eventually, to be able to reflect all public sector ICT vacancies and job seekers.

Finally, today, my friends at Public Sector Forums are having a bit of a pop at Socitm and our “Web 2.0 and why it matters” launch, employing all the usual rhetoric, such as “cabal”.

Now it’s personal! I personally proof-read the report, and thought it was excellent. I’d like to be able to provide a blow by blow discourse of the arguments PSF’s article – “Blind leading the Blind” – attempts to make, but really don’t have the time.

From memory, however, some of the points I’d be likely to make are pretty obvious. Narrative on Second Life, for example, provides examples of how companies are actually using the medium.

Having said all that, discussion and debate is always healthy! None of can really be certain of the direction in which we’re headed; one of the reasons why I may often seem preoccupied with “vision”. Did you read the recent “Naked Leader” (David Taylor) article?

He opined that Second Life and such virtual worlds are passing fads, and can never have any real business benefit. I’m inclined to agree with him, but they are extreme examples of current Social media.

What’s beyond dispute is that the underlying technology – IP convergence, the network of networks and, unlike people like me, who are much closer to the ends of their careers than the starts, the computer savvy young generation (“Digital Natives”, as John Suffolk calls them) are shaping our tomorrows.

I understand it’s likely there’ll be further discussion of these issues in the socitmweb2 micro-site .

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