A year of work in progress – day 213

Day 213 – 10 December 2014

Despite the weather bomb the 4:45 pulled away on time from Newcastle Central Station. Leaving home at such an ungodly hour reminded me of the years that I worked in Cambridge when I would regularly leave at such time in the morning. All that was on the road were bread vans and taxis. I did see two bikes and a fox however.

I was off to London again. Who put it so far away? This time it was for a Chief Information Officer conference put on by Computing Magazine. They have put together a top 100 list of CIOs and somehow my name was on it. I think it was something to do with the interview I did for them earlier in the year. I’ve shaved off the beard since (it was the photo on the cover of the magazine that was its death knell).

The trip down was uneventful. Pam had got me a great seat with a proper table and there were only a handful of us in carriage C as the lights of Newcastle drifted away behind. For most of the journey there was very little to see out of the window.

The event was very good. It was held in a lovely place called Home House just off Baker Street (by the way there isn’t a 221b). The presentations in the morning were up to the mark.

Rocco Labellarte started us off with the Dimensions of Technology Leadership. Apparently we have a profile (average age 43 and male) and are regarded as pretty reliable old chaps. He said that we need to lead on strategy, which was interesting as I was working on ours on the train down. We need to choose if we are a strategic executive, change agent or a technologist yet I must admit that I like playing the number 10 shirt just off the striker.

His recipe for being a CIO is: to have well rounded technology and soft skills; be a confident communicator; have strong change management experience; financial acumen; exposure to the rest of the business; strong vendor management skills; experience of different cultures and business and; talent management skills.

Next up was a talk on Digital Leadership Mastering by Ade McCormack. We are in the most exciting of times. Today is the fastest day that technology has changed and the slowest day that it will ever change again. He described technology, as I believe it to be, as part of human evolution. The most successful technologies will be anthrotechnology, those that work with nature rather than against it. Digital lets us go back to our true human nature, mobile and creative yet this contrasts with the current view of most organisations

Business will continue to change. We’ll continue to be automated out of work (as we have been ever since we picked up a flint) and so we need to do stuff software and robots can’t do. The future worker will be an artist, a digital hunter gatherer and, just like in football, the players will determine the strategy.

We need to be highly mobile, highly social and be able to articulate value by getting our teams out there and build the brand

I thought Andrew Dyson’s talk on EC data protection laws was going to be a little dry but we are witnessing a huge shift in data and it is time for refresh in legislation. There is a strong political will for change and data breeches are going to be treated with the same vigour as anti-trust crimes. But, if data is growing exponentially, how can the law keep up?

Finally, for me at least, Tom Dalglish talked about Data Transformation in the finance sector. He challenged us with the notion that sometimes going old school is better for the business? Out with the new and in with the old. Outsourcing and commercialisation can cost you more than keeping the people you did away with.

We should communicate not talk and deliver rather than analyse. One of my homilies is that we should speak the language of our customer but we can talk the same language yet talk in different cultures. I’m going to change it to ‘Be of the same culture as your customers.’ Perhaps not as snappy.

I didn’t make the top ten CIOs but a nice lunch made up for my disappointment.

Learning points for today: We should dare to share; POLE refers to people, object, location and event; trains don’t support quality typing; you can fall back through a glass ceiling; a bra has over 300 components; we need to be comfortable at failing; learn to fail fast and; if you are not paying for the product, you are the product.

Today’s enjoyment rating 9/10 – long way (and long blog) but well worth it.

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