Socitm Scotland – A review from a hill

Matthew Fraser

Here, Socitm technical consultant Matthew Fraser shares some of his highlights from the Scotland Conference – from which he briefly sloped away to enjoy a near-futile expedition up a nearby hillside.

By Matthew Fraser

Desiring to view the Socitm Scotland conference from another perspective, I donned my walking boots and headed up Arthur’s Seat (the extinct volcano in the middle of Edinburgh) to view the event from above.

A glance at the picture above shows that this was a complete failure, as the conference venue was obscured entirely by another hill.

Why would I share such a failure of planning? Well, I was strongly influenced by the excellent keynote address given by Charles Reeves of Aviva, where he discussed having a positive view of failure. Quoting Winston Churchill (who had his fair share of both success and failure), Charles said: ‘Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.’

Charles developed the idea of having a culture where failure is accepted. It reminded me of one of my favourite quotes, attributed to Theodore Roosevelt: ‘The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything.’

We are often happy to share our success stories, and allow others to learn from our moments of brilliance – but perhaps we should be just as quick to share our failings, so that others can avoid the same pitfalls?

With this in mind, I’ll openly admit that if I had looked at a map it would have been clear that the conference would be out of view from atop the volcano.

Another concept Charles developed was of technology giving humans ‘superpowers’ – the ability to perform tasks that only a few years ago would appear as magic. However, he also emphasised the need for these powers to be useful. I reflected on this idea during my climb. Using the GPS on my watch, I could track my movement and know exactly how much further I had to climb. It is amazing technology, but is it truly a useful ‘superpower’?

I would expect each delegate at Socitm Scotland would have their own high points (though none as high as, at 250 metres, Arthur’s Seat). A few of my others include:

The Socitm Top Talent’s workshop on collaboration; not only did it give helpful insight, but I got to play with an air rocket.

Matsoft’s introduction to Low Code; as a developer who has forgotten more programming languages than I can remember, this could be a genuine ‘superpower’ in application development for me.

The Lamb Koftas at lunch were unexpected and very tasty.

Eddy Van der Stock’s presentation on the work V-ICT-OR are doing in Belgium; particularly their work on Digital Maturity and the lessons they have learned.

And finally, a low point. My hotel (which I will leave unnamed) was a bit too techy for its own good. Having all-the-lights-on sensors connected to the door sounds like an excellent idea, in theory. But when your wife leaves the room and you’re in the shower, the devices simply leave you in the dark – damp and quite nervous.

Socitm Scotland – A review from a hill

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