Tag Archives: british computer society

Leaving the BCS ELITE…

I’ve been on the the main committee of the BCS ELITE group for the past couple of years, but I just resigned my position.

I do like the BCS, I think they have a role in helping people map out a career in IT. I know a lot of people in the industry think the BCS is pointless and detached from reality, but I’ve loyally been a member since the 1980s even when it meant nothing to me, though in the past few years the management of the BCS has started focusing on helping people to build an IT career.

The BCS itself is more relevant than ever and after the recent drama of an emergency general meeting, where some members were questioning the agenda of the society, I think the society is now through the storm and ready to start making a real difference.

To those who don’t know anything of ELITE, it “is the UK lead forum for IT Directors and Senior Managers to exchange experiences, views and expectations on how information systems should be managed to achieve business objectives.”

In short, it’s a group for BCS members who are of IT director level or above – the senior management of the British IT industry. I was elected onto the committee with a mandate to offer a few modern ideas, get some new research published, and influence the events that ELITE runs… getting real industry leaders available for debate.

But things never really worked out like that – though I tried. ELITE is like a gentleman’s club for people who work in IT. Events are a success if they break even – rather than if they add to the body of management knowledge – and publications are torturously slow to materialise. In an era where companies need to be planning for every quarter and using modern-day communication systems to ensure rapid decision making, the ELITE culture of cigars in Pall Mall clubs grates somewhat… and how annoying is it to find a committee of IT experts who cannot use any scheduling tools (beyond mass emailing) to arrange meetings?

Take a look here at the forthcoming events organised by ELITE. Well, actually as you can see there are none. And even those that you can see arranged in the past hardly have any appeal for any CIO level management I have worked with. The last management level event that was organised was an audience with Michael Dell back in April 2009. That’s if I’m not including the dinners in Pall Mall clubs that are so important in setting the future strategy of the British IT industry.

Even then, does anyone really want to pay to listen to Dell anymore? Perhaps back in the mid-nineties yes, but what would a present-day CIO get from listening to former industry greats, apart from hearing some old war stories? When I once suggested getting Jimmy Wales to talk about Wikipedia, I had to explain to the committee who he actually is.

Or how about the management publications? You can see them here… A report from three years ago and a survey from five years ago. Cutting edge stuff…

Surely a group priding itself on independence and access to senior level IT managers should consider why it exists? Why should the group exist in the first place? If it is for producing independent research and comment, and offering high-level events and networking opportunities, then why not schedule some of those reports or events? It seems logical.

Instead, the meetings are dominated by a dogmatic adherence to committee politics that are reminiscent of ‘Wolfie’ Smith organising politics in Tooting. Some committees need structure and rules, but when the structure and process becomes the main topic of meetings then there is something seriously wrong. The events and publications timetable speak for themselves anyway.

I’m not detaching myself from the BCS in general. I’m still a member, and I’m cooking up some ideas with the head office in Swindon, for some work that should help promote the BCS and stimulate debate on IT careers in the future – I think the BCS does have a lot to offer. And I think the current management team have a clearer view than ever of what the BCS can achieve – there is a bright future ahead for the society.

It’s just a shame there is not more that the BCS offers to the thousands of senior IT executives in this country. There are already some people out there working with this community. The Computer Weekly CW500 club does a great job with monthly events always featuring a CIO speaker and regular publications, CIO Connect has a regular magazine and events… the IT management community is busy, but there must be room for the BCS to be doing something that addresses their needs to constantly be learning about their own industry.
Global Services: Moving to a Level Playing Field

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BCS Emergency General Meeting

The BCS used to be a stuffy club full of academics and practitioners who endlessly harked back to the days when they would spend happy hours scanning punch-cards for bugs before compiling a bit of software, because it took all night to compile.

The industry has moved on. IT is now the common theme underpinning every single industry you can name. The tired argument that IT practitioners have to understand the business better to get on with their career is now so outdated… because almost every industry depends entirely on IT to function.

What is a bank these days? Just IT pushing money around the world. Education is moving online. Retail is moving online. Even mining, manufacturing, and construction rely on IT. The corner shop down the road uses IT to keep track of their inventory. There is almost no business today that can function without technology.

So how come a renegade group of BCS members are calling for the BCS to return to the past? The BCS transformation programme is designed to make the society more relevant for the 21st century technology industry – in particular the global nature of the industry.

The EGM call was a few months back, but there is now a vote taking place at present for members. If you are a BCS member, please don’t vote for a step back. If you do then I know I won’t bother renewing my membership.

Want to stand in the BCS ELITE committee election?

I got this email today from the ELITE chair at the British Computer Society. ELITE is the IT director-level group of the BCS. They have a number of vacancies on their board. If you fancy putting your name forward for a place then just follow the instructions listed below… If you need a proposer and seconder then take a look at the ELITE website to check on the board members.
—-
Dear Elite Member,
We have a number of vacancies on the Elite committee. This is a great opportunity to contribute to the work of Elite, and I urge anyone who
wants to become involved to put themselves forward for election.  Any member of the Elite Group who is also a member of BCS can be nominated to stand for the position of Committee member.
A Proposer and a Seconder (who are also Elite members) will be required for the nomination to be entered into the election process.
A Committee member shall be elected to serve a maximum term of three years at which point they must stand down. They can offer themselves for re-election but may only serve a maximum of two consecutive terms.
If you would like to stand, then please e-mail a profile and photograph of yourself, no longer than 25 lines plus the names of your
proposer and seconder to Judith Taylor at  elite@hq.bcs.org.uk by Friday 5th February 2010.
Please note that HQ cannot provide you with any Elite membership details due to the DP Act.
We encourage members to attend meetings to meet with other Elite members so they could nominate a member wishing to stand for election.
If you would like to find out more about what is involved then I would be happy to have a talk.
Yours sincerely
David Tidey
Acting-Chair ELITE
David.Tidey@bcs.org

So who wants to publish me in India?

The past couple of books I have written ‘Who Moved my Job?’ (Lulu 2008) and ‘Global Services: Moving to a Level Playing Field’ (British Computer Society 2008) have both been published under license for South Asia by Viva in Delhi.

Viva took a look at my most recent book – Talking Outsourcing (Lulu 2009) – and said they are not interested in publishing it because they don’t feel it connects to the reader in the same way as the other books I have written.

That’s fine. They have their opinion. Only I think they are wrong.

Here’s why.

I don’t think they understand that this was a book of a blog. This book is drawn from the best of my ‘Talking Outsourcing’ blog in Computing magazine, featuring blog entries from 2006 to 2009. It’s written and presented as a chronological business diary. Everything that’s going on in the world of services globalisation and outsourcing from my point of view over that three year period.

It’s worth pointing out that the British national tech magazine Computer Weekly thought so highly of my blog, they shortlisted it for blog of the year in their IT Blog Awards 2009. The launch event at London South Bank University was also very successful – take a look at the video here.

Clearly there are a lot of people involved in the hi-tech service sector in India and I am sure they would like to see this book.

It highlights the issues, the trends, the failures, and the successes of the past three years in the global hi-tech industry and India gets a fair share of that business.

Sure, it’s a book of a blog and not written with a new narrative focused on a single topic, but that’s part of the idea here. Take the content from the blog and make it work in a different way by putting it all in one place, so it can be quickly skipped through.

If you are a publisher in India and you are interested in the South Asia rights for this book then get in touch with me. I’m planning to be there in February so if you move fast we could do some personal appearances around the launch. You can reach me here…