Horizon Scanning

Laura Dawson, CIO at LSE and one of our longest-serving trustees, shares some thoughts on the big ideas for 2020.

What’s the big trend for 2020?

ID management is huge across a number of organisations and is a real pain point for us – the rise of cloud technologies and a legacy of spot solutions and consumer tech has meant that consumers of services can have multiple identities – that’s not smooth helpful – so tackling the design and logic of identity, particularly for student experience, is key.

Biggest Technology investment in 2020

We’re doing a lot of catching up on legacy and technical debt so the big projects next year will be dealing with that. We also have a project to roll out Teams more effectively and make sure we learn the lesson from the implementation of SharePoint which, for many organisations, was an example of why you shouldn’t be led by the technology tool but instead what is the business change we need.

Best bit of advice you ever had as a CIO?

Don’t become the Director of the Little Things …. Basically, make sure that when you get little operational stuff escalated to you, you handle it well but don’t take ownership of it. Otherwise people will just see you as their personal helpdesk. That doesn’t mean you’re not accountable, but you’re definitely not responsible. Get the team to do that well and don’t have your hands all over it.

What’s the most important thing you can do for your team in 2020?

Right now I’d say the world is a bit ‘choppy’ and there are a lot of decisions we make that have a wider context than just delivering good tech. Are we buying ethically and sustainably for example? Helping the team to navigate that and to understand that not only are we a carbon cost but we are also a major weapon in tackling the problem too is a key thing for us.

All technology teams should have a good understanding of how they contribute to the mission of our charities or organisations (their place in there if you will) and our jobs are to make sure they have the chance to see their own value.

And if I can sneak another one … development of really rounded, business-focused technologists – it’s no longer enough to be able to fix stuff. We have to understand the business context we’re in. So we plan a big investment not only in hard technical skills, but in business acumen and soft skills too. That’s why being in Charity IT Leaders is so important to me and my team.

What are your big challenges? What will be your biggest investment or tech project for 2020? What is the single most important piece of advice you would give to an up and coming member of staff? Email [email protected] as we’d love to develop these ideas for our quarterly meetings.