Today (5 June) was spent at a PSF (Public Sector Forums) web event in central Birmingham, where I joined Socitm Insight Manager - Martin Greenwood.
The morning was dedicated to critique and discussion of Insight's Better Connected publication. Dan Champion first presented an analysis of the report, highlighting "opportunities for improvement". I felt the critique was thoughtful, and there was much that I found myself agreeing with.
My main criticism would be that I felt it came from a fairly narrow perspective – not surprising since the audience was mostly Web Managers. In fact, it was asked who the audience for the report was? – The answer to which is Local Government at large; certainly not just the Web Teams.
Glyn Evans – Director of Transformation from Birmingham City Council, and Chair of the Socitm Information Age Government (SIAG) Activity Group (as was – the group's work will be merged into the new Corporate Strategy and Policy Group – CPSG) then joined Martin and I in a panel to answer questions from the audience of about 50.
The discussion was good natured and whilst our views differed on some matters, Socitm will certainly consider all the views that were expressed. I want to express my appreciation to Martin for accompanying me to the meeting, and I thought he also made some very telling points.
I explained that Socitm's main concern, at this juncture, is to establish the new direction of travel for Better Connected, and not to respond in detail to individual points.
After lunch, I presented on "Web and ICT – now indistinguishable" – an indication of my own views about the new direction of travel! I was (deliberately) a little provocative – successfully, since a lively discussion ensued!
Views were quite mixed, with, I think, as much agreement as disagreement with my arguments, and I think I have got a debate started. I made clear that the views I expressed were my own, and not Socitm policy – but the debate will, I believe, be helpful in formulating our policy.
The afternoon ended with discussion about how the Public Sector Web Managers' Forum, launched by PSF, would be taken forward, and this will continue online.
Thanks to Ian Dunmore, Jack Pickard (who chaired) and PSF colleagues for a warm welcome and enjoyable day, and I look forward to a continuing productive relationship.
Shane sent me a text to let me know that Newham's Mayor approved our planned Newham Telecommunications Convergence project at this morning's Mayor's proceedings, which I was therefore able to announce at my presentation at the PSF event.
This is a great relief to me, and the culmination of over two years' hard work. Now, however, the real work can start. I had a short chat with Geoff, this evening, on an initial planning meeting before next week's Le Mans pilgrimage!