CIO Summit 2019

20190926_105249Interesting day at the CIO Summit down in London yesterday.   This was my annual visit to an event focusing on IT in the wider, including corporate, world rather than within the education sector.   I make an effort to do this simply to try and get a wider view of IT, digital transformation and digital innovation to help provide some context to my work in school.   There were four key messages which definitely resonated with me.

Its about the problem we are solving, not the Tech.

The CDIO of HMRC, Jacky Wright, outlined the importance of focussing on the problems you are seeking to solve rather than coding, or the technology you have available.   This is a message I have often heard Mark Anderson (@ICTEvangelist) state in relation to education, in that it is not about the technology, it is about Teaching and Learning.   In a more recent post I think he hit the nail on the head when he said its not really #edtech after all, its simply #Ed.  It would seem that this need to focus on the end outcome or product and not be distracted by shiny or new technology is something which impacts on the wider IT world rather than just education.

Culture eats strategy

The importance of organisational culture was stated by a number of presenters.   Like a focus on the problem being solved, mentioned above, a focus on culture was identified as being more important than the Tech being used.   I liked Rackspaces mission of providing a “Fantastical Experience” as both setting the tone and culture which they seek to achieve within the organisation.   I wonder whether schools could be a little more inspirational in the missions they set rather than the usual “developing the best learners” or “preparing students to the future” style of mission which we commonly see.  At the end of the day the culture of an organisation is key in what it achieves or does not achieve.   The people, the leadership team and the staff, shape the culture.


A number of presenters discussed the issue of sustainability in relation to technology.   This is a challenging area given that technology may be both part of the solution and part of the problem.   In being the problem, as we consume more data, use more technology and even personally have more devices, we need more power.   We also consume valuable resources in the manufacturing processes plus make use of valuable metals in the various tech products.   This all adds up to using more energy at a time when we want to be using less.    Thankfully tech can also be the solution here in using AI to match availability and demand, in harnessing greater amounts of renewable energy with greater levels of efficiency and in supporting remote collaboration reducing energy consumption associated with travel.     A particular area of discussion in relation to sustainability was that of the supplier chain.   It was highlighted that organisations need to be aware of the energy consumption of the third parties they use rather than treating this as an issue for the third party.  If you are using Microsoft or Google cloud services, the resultant energy usage associated with their data centres, as used to store and process your data, needs to be considered in thinking about your organisations carbon footprint and energy usage.   In addition, looking at devices, including PCs, printers, etc, we also need to consider how suppliers source their resources, manage energy use during production and also to what extent their devices can be recycled, refurbished or reused.

Cyber Security

This topic was always likely to arise as part of discussion.   I found the presentation by Brigadier Alan Hill particularly interesting in discussion his views.   The key issue is ensuring that the risk associated with cyber security is understood at a board level and then working on constant review, testing and preparation for cyber events.      As he identified any plan made won’t survive an encounter with the enemy however the act of having and more importantly testing a plan will at least make you and your team as prepared as they possibly can be for when, and not if, a cyber incident happens.

This was my 2nd CIO Summit event and once again I found it to be useful and informative.   Towards the end of the event the importance of sharing ideas and best practice with IT peers was discussed and for me attendance at this event is a key part of this.   Our best chance for innovation and for security is collaboration and cooperation;  we are all in this together.  And so as I write this on the train on the way home I look forward to reviewing my many pages of notes and identifying the actions to take as a result of this event.   I cant wait for next year.


Author: garyhenderson2014

Gary Henderson is currently the Director of IT in an Independent school in the UK. Prior to this he worked as the Head of Learning Technologies working with public and private schools across the Middle East. This includes leading the planning and development of IT within a number of new schools opening in the UAE. As a trained teacher with over 15 years working in education his experience includes UK state secondary schools, further education and higher education, as well as experience of various international schools teaching various curricula. This has led him to present at a number of educational conferences in the UK and Middle East.

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