I like working with Waterstons. I would have said I love working with them but my father in law used to say you can only love people not things. May he rest in peace. He is still remembered. I could say I love working with the people of Waterstons. Vic would be happy with that.
They are a Durham based company that work in technology. That helps but they are also the kind of organisation that I am trying to work towards being. We have similar values and approaches. In some ways they are way ahead of us yet in others I think we may have the nose. They are a values led company.
I have worked with Sally for some time now, around apprentices and gender equality for example and I have known Steve since his Sunderland days.
When they asked if we would like to join them for a hack day it took me the whole of three minutes to say yes. Bob, Steve (another one) and I joined several other organisations for a whole day of ideas creation and development. Not that I did any developing.
The idea we worked on was how to help our people get more from their technology without having to involve the ICT Services. I want to take the ICT out of tech. More self-service, more self –help and more self-determination. This means that ICT Services can focus on the higher value-added stuff, the things that the authority really needs from us.
Paul and the team showed us a product called Luis (Language Understanding Intelligent Service) which they used to develop a natural language data base that could respond to questions. The idea being that we could use this as an interface to the service desk system. We ended up drawing it on the white board, we are ICT People after all, and from there I had an epiphany moment. We drew out the specification for a whole new possible approach to our service desk. It may also work for our contact centres but that is for another day.
It was worth coming along just for that but we got to meet some great people and discuss further opportunities.
The pizza was lovely as well.