US Independence Day – or rather the date of adoption of the text of the declaration, as I learned on my recent trip; the declaration was actually made on 8th July.

I heard, today, that my blog was recently nominated in the 2008 ComputerWeekly.com IT Blog Awards by a ComputerWeekly.com reader. "All nominated blogs have now been considered by our panel of judges and I am delighted to inform you that CIO Blog has made the shortlist in the CIO/IT Director category."

After having looked at my fellow nominees' blogs, I have to admit that most of them have rather more imaginative titles than mine, but don't be seduced by such superficial presentation, vote, in the "CIO & IT Director Blogs" category, for the "CIO Blog at ComputerWorld UK" here.

This morning fellow Socitm Director, Steve Palmer, and I had discussions about previously identified partnership opportunities with the NCC's (National Computing Centre's) CEO - Steve Markwell, Accredit UK Project Director -Vaughan Shaylor and Group Marketing Manager - Michael Dean.

The Accredit UK scheme provides professional ICT development for small businesses. The NCC would like to partner with Socitm to promote the scheme and negotiate appropriate exemptions from public sector procurement procedures for businesses that have obtained relevant qualification through the scheme.

I undertook to set-up a further meeting with the DCLG (Department for Communities & Local Government) and with someone from the Digital Inclusion Team, as bureaucratic challenges and engagement with ICT can often be among the issues that small businesses have to contend with. In the meantime, Socitm has been offered a place on the Accredit UK Advisory Board, and I have promised Socitm's help in promoting the scheme.

There appear to be opportunities for Socitm Consulting and Training services to contribute skills to support NCC membership development packages, and for them to become part of the Accredit UK third-party assessment community. A follow-up meeting is being arranged with Socitm Consulting management.

We had a lengthy discussion about how to jointly develop our professionalism services, particularly in support of the Government IT Profession and the ICT competency needs of business, as well as the ICT service. We concluded that we should set-up a workshop with wider stakeholders to agree the approach. This may map onto "Profit Alliance" developments, but should include other public sector representation. This is to be planned for around the end of September.

Last, but not least, there may be possibilities for sharing administration systems and services, and I'm asking Adrian to discuss these with Michael before we commit ourselves to new systems that are under consideration.

After lunch, I met with Sean Harney, Newham's Orange Account Manager – both to brief him on the Newham Telecommunications Convergence project, and to discuss Socitm's planned consultation with private sector colleagues on partnering package developments.

I also attended Newham ICT's Monthly Team Talk to hear Mike Irving, Newham Homes' CEO, presenting on the company's plans to achieve a three-star rating, and how ICT can help.

Since becoming Socitm President, I've been really pleased to receive quite a few messages of congratulation and support, but I thought the following extract from a note received from Fahri Zihni, a previous Socitm President (now at Aston University) worth mentioning…

In my personal view, information and communications technology is without a shadow of doubt, one of the greatest miracles of human ingenuity which among all the well publicised ills associated with it, has made and will continue to make, the world a better place by helping deliver education, know-how and prosperity across the globe. So we should be more than proud to be a part of the ICT profession."

That seemed to me a pretty good rallying call for our profession, and also signals the sort of continuing aspiration that Socitm can support – and here I am thinking, particularly, of how we can now engage in tackling social exclusion and combating social injustice through our use of ICT.

Have a great weekend!