IT Board

Techies & Women on Boards

I started writing this post before the cyber-attack on the BBC which took down BBC web services.

The biggest risk for Chief Executives, in arguably any business, is a cyber-attack and yet senior technical advice is not deemed a requirement at board level and in high level decision making.

I have just been appointed to a Trust Board and on that board I am the only woman and I am the only person with an engineering background.

Technology should be recognised as one of society’s much needed skills and those who are high ranking experts in that profession should be regarded in a similar way to other senior professionals in the field of law, medicine or finance, for example. Governance and Business Boards need to have board members with 21st century skills but until local and national governance acknowledge that technical skills are important to high level decision making then boards will not be representative of knowledge that is used at decision making in daily business life. My perception of board appointments is that a culture exists of sticking to the same type of person for board membership and by doing that women are excluded, ethnic minorities are excluded and those from engineering, and most of STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) careers are also excluded.

Skills that are deemed a requirement at board level such as lawyers, doctors and accountants hold qualifications earned at university, technical engineering qualifications may or may not be earned at university but are not considered important on most boards. Deliverables from finance or medicine, for example, will use information technology for compliance, so why not on a board? Just as you would not want a newly qualified doctor with no experience on a managing board the same applies for an engineer with technical skills. However there needs to be academic labelling for technical skills that is recognisable for the level of skill that an IT professional can bring to a board.

Information Technology is a relatively new industry and so change can be difficult because of a lack of understanding of the skills however all services now heavily rely on technology. Unfortunately because everyone uses technology they think that they are an IT expert however that diminishes the responsibility that IT professionals have to deliver services that are secure and meet business needs.

A technology architect who designs a system that provides services that effect whole communities should have equal weight to that of a lawyer or doctor. A doctor may affect outcomes for a single person where as a Senior Engineer or an IT Architect can affect the outcomes for whole businesses. It has been reported in the media that Chief Executives biggest risk to their business is a cyber-attack. Given that the biggest risk is a security threat that only IT professionals can address it is surprising that their opinions are not being valued at board level.

In my experience a trust board making appointments today would appoint a lawyer easily with only a few years’ experience in planning law where as an IT engineer with many years of experience in engineering IT solutions that provides critical business services would have difficulty in being appointed.

The level of experience and knowledge that a board member brings is crucial to board appointments. For example it is unlikely that you would appoint a Help Desk Assistant to a board and similarly it would be unlikely that you would appoint a Ward Nurse. Just as a board would appoint a doctor, so at a similar level you should appoint Senior IT professionals such as an IT Architect or Senior Systems Engineer.

There aren’t many women in engineering roles and there are few women on boards and it has not been an easy journey for me personally to get onto either which is why I think there needs to be a change in perception of IT professionals and their skills, the simplest solution is to use a naming standard to label IT skill levels so that those outside of IT can agree that an IT Architect or a Senior Systems Engineer is a skill sought after on boards.


My food diary online

A website and app that I have recommended to many friends who want to lose a few pounds is www.myfitnesspal.com.

It is a free tool that supports anyone trying to lose weight. I can connect to my profile from my iphone and from my laptop and can log my meals and snacks from both and they will be synchronised.

I use it to monitor my food intake which has the direct effect of making me eat less. Keeping a food diary makes you think twice about having that extra piece of cake or chocolate.

I record my food intake using the database which provides the amount of calories for each item. I also record any exercise I have undertaken and myfitnesspal tells me how many calories I have burned off. Not very many just recently!

You can share your goals or achievements using social networking but I decided against that as well.

Next week I’ll blog on something more serious …. Windows Multipoint server? Maybe.


Poorer families without internet

The ONS (Office of National Statistics) has published statistics that show that a 1/3 of poorer families in the UK have no internet access at home. This translates to approximately 750,000 homes without internet.

When I was at school I had to go to the library to research my homework or project work. Now if I or any of my family need to research anything Google is our first

stop. Anyone without a computer or internet is seriously disadvantaged. Admittedly students can still gain internet access from schools, libraries, internet cafes, coffee shops and more. I still think that the ease of access by having a computer and internet access readily available at home is far superior to having to seek it out.

One of my daughters went to the library last Wednesday because there were too many distractions at home for her to get on with her uni work. She went to Winchmore Hill library first and found it closed so then she went to Palmers Green library which was also closed. She had to satisfy her need by shutting herself away in her room at home with us noiseys. My point is that she wasted an hour trying to find somewhere quiet to study with internet access and had to settle for home in the end which she was trying to avoid.


Everyone over the age of 12 has a phone these days and you can get internet access from your phone however there is a difference in quick access from a phone to researching project work.I think that education is the key to better society so we need to provide our youth with the tools to improve their education. I know that most schools will provide additional support if needed and we need to make it easy for them to get the access needed.

The End of Text Messaging?

Now that texting is over 20 years old, it is already starting to decline. There are many providers of free messaging so I doubt that people will pay for texting for much longer. It may be some time before texting is removed as a sales benefit from mobile phone packages.

With the death of texting does that mean our youth will start using English correctly or will txt spk remain? I have always text in full English much to my children’s amusement; I was doing them a favour so that they didn’t forget the Queen’s English.

There are lots of changes at the moment with messaging services, Microsoft messaging has been retired and is replaced with Skype. Any parent with a student at university knows what a fantastic tool this is. We have moved onto Facetime on the ipad and iphone and keeping in contact becomes so easy and personal when you can see each other.

My app of the week (this may become a regular feature) is “WhatsApp” which is a mobile messaging service which is free and works on different platforms, such as iphone, Blackberry, Android and Windows phone. It uses your internet data usage so there is no additional cost. Have a look http://www.whatsapp.com/.


Planning Website Posts Update

ws_thumb

The “when” of my website posts has altered slightly from what I originally stated:

When – The Creation and Maintenance process – I will be creating posts and maintaining the website. I will post weekly on specific topics so for example Education every Monday, Technology every Wednesday, community every Thursday, politics every Friday and ad hoc items as and when.I will post according to a schedule so anyone watching will know what and when to expect content on my website.

The plan is:

  1. Monday – Technology post
  2. Tuesday – Women’s issues
  3. Wednesday – Education post
  4. Thursday – Community post
  5. Friday – Politics
  6. Weekends – whatever

Obviously this isn’t set in stone but a plan and the best laid plans can go wrong as I have just been reconnected to the internet after 24 hours of downtime due to ISP problems.


Windows 8 and my new laptop

I received a Dell Ultrabook XPS12 for Christmas with Windows 8 Operating System installed. The Dell has a flip over touch screen so it may be used as a tablet.

I liked the Windows 7 OS for home use so I was keen to see how Windows 8 worked. I also use an iphone and ipad so it is interesting to compare them.

I like the look and feel of the OS. The new Metro page shown is a central point to start apps from and can be personalised by moving tiles around to suit your usage.

The touch screen on my Dell works well with Windows 8 and I can use the laptop in a similar way that I would use my iphone so it is very easy and usable. There is more depth to Windows 8 than my iphone, in other words there is more functionality. I am still learning the new functions and methods of use to get the best from my Ultrabook.

It is still early days but I would certainly recommend Windows 8 and the Dell XPS12.

 


Planning Website Posts

 I plan to post content relating to my expertise and interests onto my website more frequently. I expect the majority of posts to be about Technology, Education, Community, Politics and general  news items. You can also expect some twin related information which may be general or personal as I am the proud parent of twins, and family posts featuring the long suffering Mr Daniels.

As a Technology Professional I can’t help but bring my Project Managing experience into my planning so I’m applying the five (or six) W’s.

w's

  1. What – Looking at the type of information to exchange – I will be commenting on Education, Technology, Politics and Local Community regularly so I will re-design the page layout on my website to accommodate this.
  2. When – The Creation and Maintenance process – I will be creating posts and maintaining the website. I will post weekly on specific topics so for example Education every Monday, Technology every Wednesday, community every Thursday, politics every Friday and ad hoc items as and when.I will post according to a schedule so anyone watching will know what and when to expect content on my website.
  3. Why – The business case – There is no financial business case however I want to provide regular posts on areas of interest and establish myself as reliable and reputable.
  4. Who – With whom to communicate – I am targetting the technology connected community. I will be connecting through Twitter to advertise my website.
  5. Where – Communication channels – through the internet so locally, nationally and internationally.
  6. How – An information structure – After the babies have gone to bed with my new laptop post to the to MrsDaniels.co.uk using a new format as outlined.
Tomorrow’s task to change the website layout.

FLDRA Website

I have taken over the management of the FLDRA (Fox Lane and District Residents’ Association) website. My lovely husband Jon has assisted by updating the site and brought it up to date.

The aim of the website is:

  • to be a source of information
  • to facilitate sharing of information
  • to bring together the local community
  • to provide a method for reporting concerns

Please visit the website here http://www.foxlane.net/ and click on follow if you wish to get updates when there is new local news.