June saw the third annual European Gartner Midsize Enterprise conference, an event targeted specifically at midsize enterprise CIOs

Ruth Rosenthal, director of IT, Age Concern describes the IT issues of the charity

  • June saw the third annual European Gartner Midsize Enterprise conference, an event targeted specifically at midsize enterprise CIOs. It was attended by senior IT executives from midsize organisations across the UK and Ireland, France and Germany and from organisations in transport, logistics, pharmaceuticals, HR services, pharmaceuticals and retail.

What is your role and responsibility at Age Concern?

We are one of the largest charities in England helping older people and have a number of disparate organisations and businesses that operate in a federated structure. This ranges from trading alliances, retail outlets, training in IT awareness for our members, fundraising and working on policy issues with government departments.
For instance, we have just launched a new service for baby boomers coming up to retirement, Heyday. I lead the IT operation.

What does IT need to do for Age Concern?

IT issues are very similar to other large organisations, with perhaps the difference that we don’t need to respond quite as quickly as other bodies may have to.
I myself have come from 20 years in the City where I worked in IT in investment banking, so there is a difference in budget size of course but it is all about managing and maximising effective use of technology.
Charities like ours do also insist on a surprise-free IT environment – we tend to use stable technologies that are proven and cost-effective.

Why are you at this conference?

We have a number of issues and priorities I am seeking guidance on, from a strategic level. Business intelligence, contact management and the refreshment of legacy applications are top of my list at the moment, for instance.
We are also pretty interested in remote access and mobile computing and how to get the best out of those tools, as 10 per cent of our staff now work at home. Our new Heyday service will also have an active call centre.
Other issues are disaster recovery and business continuity – our Aidcall 24-hour alarm service needs to have a foolproof electricity and IT supply, for instance. So I am interested in top level advice and peer information on all these topics, as well as talking to other users of the products we are looking at.

Are you getting it?

Yes, I am less interested in the specifics of product functionality in key vendor products, more in what the strategic impact of these new products will have – do we have to upgrade and when, that is the level I need to deal with. Overall though I am getting good value for being out of the office.