The underlying theme of working ‘better, faster, smarter’ was explored through a diverse mix of keynotes, presentations and parallel sessions, focusing on productivity, rationalisation, system migration, security, changing culture, evolving staff roles, leadership and project management.
Delegates were given much to contemplate during the event, and we hope they have taken the messages and the other university practices presented back to their own institutions to fuel debate and inform decision-making.
Networking is an important tool that helps to develop and engage our community, and during the conference we try to provide opportunities for peers to meet and discuss common issues and systems and interact with the suppliers exhibiting at the conference. This year, we feel this aspect was particularly successful and this has been reflected in the conference feedback.
Several messages were reinforced at the event in the keynotes and presentations:
- The importance of people and the way they engage and how they approach decision-making, change and risk came up several times and it was good to see that, although approaches differed, the goals and outcomes were largely aligned.
- Knowing your staff, their decision-making processes and developing their talents are hugely important to your business success.
- Digital transformation, or as some preferred to call it ‘digital evolution’, is making a real impact in our institutions. The drive for better user experiences and system and data integrations is now starting to deliver for our users.
- CapEx v OpEx is still a major debate that needs to happen in our institutions. Under-investment in IT services will directly impact the quality of our degrees and the overall experience of our users and ultimately our reputation.
- Many areas are starting to see the benefits of cloud and hybrid solutions, although they still appear to be being viewed cautiously by the sector. However, most agreed that these modes of delivery and support will continue to grow.
- Data security and GDPR are ongoing processes – they are not tick-box exercises – but need constant review and action.
- Office 365 is becoming well established as a primary tool for communication, collaboration and user storage, and it is evident that CRM systems are now being embedded into many of our practices and processes.
- The adoption of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies is still in its infancy, but innovation and change are being welcomed and seen as drivers that will allow us to work ‘better, faster, smarter’.
- It also came across that many institutions have invested in business analysts and their project management office functions to help drive change, provide better integration and streamline their digital evolution. This message is key for the sector as it emphasises the importance of planning, interlinking projects and programmes and the development processes necessary for our staff to operate in a changing working environment.
The conference also proved timely for Ucisa, as it allowed them to update the community on recent changes that will help streamline the delivery of their services and events to the community.
Working ‘better, faster, smarter’ will be a challenge for the sector, especially in a time of political and financial change, but it was evident from the conference that the sector is rising to this challenge and embracing the change necessary to aid productivity, streamline systems, introduce efficiencies and improve our users’ experience.
CISG-PCMG 19 delivered a range of excellent presentations. Congratulations to all our participants and presenters and a special thanks must go to our suppliers and sponsors who were fantastic in supporting the conference and exhibition.