Thursday, 7 January 2016

Data Capability: a call to action

An interesting report has just been published by the Higher Education Data & Information Improvement Programme (HEDIIP) that reports a self assessment exercise to measure ‘data capability’ in institutes.

The Exec Summary offers a convenient overview. The ‘key findings’ do not sound too unfamiliar…

A toolkit provides a ueful way of measuring digital capability improvement with time.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Chief Digital Officer and Digital Strategy

An interesting article in the Financial Times explains the role of the CDO... 

"It is a very different role from that of the chief information officer, whose job — though complex — is more about following procedures and keeping the company’s IT systems running."

"The digital role, by contrast, is to lead transformation. The job involves looking for business opportunities that have been enabled by the digital revolution. It also involves focusing on customers and how their needs might change because of technological developments."

Gartner recognises that Chief Data Officers (CDOs) are on the rise in regulated industries. Gartner predicts that 50% of all companies in regulated industries will have a CDO by 2017

So - a really interesting question is what does this mean for Higher Education? 

The HE and FE Show 2015 last week offered some interesting insights.  One talk in particular, titled, 'Digital Lancaster' showed how their digital vision is transforming the university, and, even refocussing Lancaster’s strategic objectives.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

NewStatesman: The A-Z of cyber security

The NewStatesman has produced, ‘A plain English guide to online risk and resilience’, and actually it is quite a good overview.  Take a look!

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

IT Leaders Event - Digital Business Transformation 'Step In and Drive IT'

The 'Executive Leaders Network' delivering the 'IT Leaders Event' met last week with over 100 CIO and CTO directors from key UK organisations.   There were keynote presentations mixed with roundtable discussions.

A common theme through the day was digital transformation and the CIO role, with a particular emphasis on CIOs needing to reinvent themselves to stay abreast of new delivery methods, to drive new digital opportunities and to see IT from the customer or user perspective.

Chris Day spoke of 'Addressing the Digital Challenge' at AstraZeneca. He defined six traits of digital ready IT leaders: (a) Delivering strategic vision of how technology will transform business, (b) Relentlessly focusing on innovation, (c) Focusing on driving growth, (d) Ensuring vision is understood, (e) Moving beyond infrastructure and operations, and (f) Embracing smart risk taking.

New IT skills need to be developed to deliver the transformational digital opportunities.

The meeting gave strong support to the view that today's CIO must play a dual role: builder of technology and builder of the business.  A very good article, 'The dual roles of the CIO in the digital age' examines this principle further.

Friday, 18 September 2015

UK businesses ‘number one target for cybercriminals’

welivesecurity reports that new data collected by ThreatMatrix show that UK businesses are more likely to be the victim of cybercrime than their international counterparts.

Financial institutions were found to be the main target, with cybercriminals focusing their efforts on online lenders.

Dr. Stephen Moody, solutions director (EMEA) at ThreatMetrix said, “The more businesses and consumers turn to the digital space to store and manage their financial information, the more fraudsters will be on high alert—ensuring digital identities are effectively protected should be high priority for everyone.”

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Case for investment in universities - government Comprehensive Spending Review2015

On 21 July 2015 the Chancellor launched Spending Review 2015.  The Review will be published on 25 November and has the daunting challenge of setting out how the government will both invest in priority public services and deliver the £20 billion further savings required to eliminate Britain's deficit by 2019/20.

The Chief Secretary wrote to government departments asking them to draw up plans to deliver the remaining required consolidation (£20 billion). The letters asked departments to model two scenarios of 25% and 40% of savings within their resource budgets by 2019-20 in real terms.

So where does this leave Higher Education? The protected departments are: The NHS, International Development, Defence and Schools - but even here the the pledges do not refer to entire departmental budgets, but rather to some aspects of their spending. A briefing paper, entitled 'Background to the 2015 Spending Review' explains this further.

It is vital, therefore, that a case be made for investment in universities, and Universities UK has made an important submission.   UUK is calling for:
  • funding for high-cost subjects in England (such as engineering and medicine) to not fall below current levels per student in real terms;
  • sustained government investment in grants that help to widen participation and support students from disadvantaged backgrounds in England;
  • increased investment in teaching capital to support the expansion and competitiveness of the sector;
  • a long-term strategy to increase investment in R&D, to bring it closer to that of competitor countries;
  • renewal of the science ring-fence, which offered vital protection to UK R&D in the last parliament;
  • sustained support for funding streams like the Higher Education Innovation Fund (in England) that allow universities to drive innovation, invest in new and emerging areas and respond to changing needs.
The section that addresses 'Meeting the skills of the UK Labour Market' is particularly interesting.  The first major point in the Executive Summary states:  Through the teaching and training they provide, universities are essential to meeting current and future demand for higher level skills. This demand is projected to rise significantly in the next five years, with almost half of all jobs requiring some form of higher education by 2022. This has a direct connection with a House of Lords Select Committee of Digital Skills report, 'Make or Break: The UK's Digital Future'.

Monday, 7 September 2015

RC UK's consultation on 'Concordat on Open Data'

RCUK is seeking feedback on their new draft ‘Concordat On Open Research Data’. The text and contextual information is available. Feedback and comments should be sent to by 28 September 2015.

The draft concordat has been developed under the auspices of the UK Open Research Data Forum by a multi-stakeholder working group, which includes RCUK, JISC, the Wellcome Trust and Universities UK. The concordat aims to help to ensure that the research data gathered and generated by members of the UK research community is made openly available for use by others wherever possible in a manner consistent with relevant legal, ethical and regulatory frameworks and norms.

Most of the principles are uncontroversial.   For example:    Principle #1 Open access to research data is an enabler of high quality research, a facilitator of innovation and safeguards good research practice. 

Principle #9 is challenging - Support for the development of appropriate data skills is recognised as a responsibility for all stakeholders.  There are clear resource consequences.

EPSRC and ESRC policies specify data underpinning publications, but the Concordat appears to refer to all data produced by research. 

"The intention [of the Concordat] is to establish sound principles which respect the needs of all parties. It is not the intention to mandate, codify or require specific activities, but to establish a set of expectations of good practice with the intention of establishing open research data as the desired position for publicly-funded research over the long-term."   The question, therefore, is how will the Condorat be used to ensure open data are openly available - what will make it more than a generic statement of intent?