About a month ago Paul Canning posted in his Blog in response to my presentation – proclaiming that "now ICT & Web are synonymous" – at a PSF event.
I said I'd respond when I had more time. Well, these days it seems there's never enough time, but I thought I should revisit the topic before it's ancient history.
Paul mentioned, rightly, that I was deliberately provocative and, to be honest, I did exaggerate for effect (and my own enjoyment!) However, there were a number of serious points. The "webification" of ICT is happening as we speak.
It's not just about IP convergence – a single infrastructure shared by all media – but also the changed approach to data management, security and search. For now, I think the clear role of ICT is to maintain and optimise the infrastructure that's used by our customers' to operate their businesses. The question that arises is whether operating web-sites is a "service".
When Paul says he doesn't see the factors that have prevailed in the last ten years changing in the next ten, I think he is failing to appreciate the significance of the "21st century industrial revolution" that digital convergence represents.
I don't think it's a matter of the public versus the private sector, although I agree there are some significant differences between the two. Like all good revolutions, digital convergence is driven by the grass-roots – social computing – and it won't be possible for our sector to continue to be "walled off from influences from wider web development".
Paul mentioned that "newspaper websites are built-on content". Martin Veitch's article in CIO, which I recently referred to in my Blog, had a slightly different take: "…as we wake-up to the fact that, just as we stopped writing about it, convergence in media finally happened…. Technology, media and telecoms has become more like one sector than three."
I think all the evidence is that I am right, but my implication that that means everything becomes part of the ICT professional domain is definitely open to challenge! The reality, I think, is that all our jobs are changing. Software Oriented Architecture, Software-as-a-Service, mash-ups, cloud searching are all "webification of ICT". Web sites are becoming sophisticated applications repositories. To make sense of this, design skills, both presentation and configuration, are critical and, currently, the design role is becoming paramount.
Perhaps the key point to take from our discussion is that we all need to recognise that we are part of one sector that is growing and adapting to accommodate this age of convergence. (That's among the realities that current developments in Socitm must reflect.) I could go on at some length, but really don't have the time, right now, but I'm certain this is a debate that will continue into next year, and among the issues to be covered at this year's Socitm conference.
Today I met Kable's Head of Events and two of her colleagues at their offices in Farringdon to discuss the possibility of partnership in Socitm Events management. I've discussed this with the Events Team, who do a great job on our annual conference, but we agreed to explore opportunities for providing a more comprehensive service to the Society (for all events) working with a professional events organisation.
This exploratory meeting helped me to develop my understanding of what such a relationship could look-like, and what would be the likely requirements and constraints from either side. All in all, 'though, I thought our meeting was quite positive. There will be further exploratory meetings with two other prospective partners, then, if we decide to negotiate formally, colleagues from Socitm's current Events Team will be among the working party members.