Top ten reasons to attend the Socitm President’s Conference



On 8-9 May 2018, the Socitm President’s Conference will come to Glasgow, providing an in-depth view into the technologies and trends emerging in the public sector today. Here, you’ll learn everything you need to know about citizen and community engagement, ethical automation, cybersecurity, and the new delivery models and technologies set to transform the sector in the years to come. Here are just a few reasons why we think you should attend this year’s conference.

Learn about digital transformation
Digital transformation has emerged as quite the hot topic over recent years, and the President’s Conference is taking that knowledge in its stride. With first-hand insights into case studies and exclusive information from digital leaders around the world who have already deployed successful digital strategies, you can learn exactly how to make transformation work for you.

World-class speakers
One of the best reasons to visit the President’s Conference is the impeccable collection of more than 20 renowned speakers set to share their knowledge about the IT and digital world. This is a fantastic opportunity for professionals to learn more from the best in the business and listen to the ideas of leaders who have been a part of the growing digital revolution in the public sector for numerous years.

Keynote address by Scotland’s Deputy First Minster
In what promises to be one of the highlights of the conference, Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney will share his insights and visions on the future direction of public services.

Network with top IT professionals
The President’s Conference provides a fantastic opportunity to meet new people and chat with other IT professionals about new technology and the latest innovations in the public sector. It’s also a great way to learn about the challenges peers have faced and how they were met and overcome.

Important sector commercial backers
The supplier community have come together to commercially support the conference, too. These sponsors include, at the highest, Presidential, level, Trend Micro and SBL, with a number of other key public sector suppliers set to offer insights at the show, too.

Interactive and engaging panel discussions
We’re making our conference sessions even more interactive and engaging this year by using Poll Everywhere. With Poll Everywhere, we’ll be able to answer questions and run polls during the panel sessions. Responses will be displayed live on screen.

An evening of dinner, drinks and digital delights
The President’s Dinner on 8 May promises to be an exciting and enthralling event with a delicious three-course dinner, a goodie-filled auction and raffle in honour of our incoming President’s chosen charity, Headway, and an opportunity to network then dance the night away with our fantastic members and sponsors.

Learning is fun
Nobody leaves a Socitm event without learning something. On hand at the conference will be QA, the UK’s leading learning and skills development organisation. They’ll be running sessions that’ll equip you with the invaluable knowledge needed to meet the challenges facing the ICT and digital universe.

Your event, our expertise
We’re particularly excited to be producing the entire event in-house this year, and our talented and experienced team has taken exhaustive guidance from our members and commercial partners to design a conference that delivers the engaging and relevant content our members need, whilst offering the genuine engagement opportunities our commercial partners demand.

A vibrant and dynamic destination
As one of Europe’s most vibrant, welcoming and dynamic cities, Glasgow is justifiably renowned throughout the world for the friendliness, warmth and humour of its people whose civic pride lies at the heart of the city’s continuing success. The President’s Conference takes place the day after the Spring bank holiday so why not make a weekend of it and explore what Glasgow has to offer?

In short, the President’s Conference promises to deliver a lot of answers which your peers may not have access to. So take advantage if you can. Or recommend it to a colleague if you can’t make it yourself. To attend the conference click here to register now!

Top ten reasons to attend the Socitm President’s Conference

Socitm President’s Conference: In conversation with Martin Ferguson

Martin Ferguson2

With the excitement around the Socitm President’s Conference growing more and more by the day, we wanted to catch up with some of this year’s speakers to find out what they’re most looking forward to at the event and why you can’t afford to miss it! Read the interview below, which is the first instalment of our President’s Conference Speaker Q&As.

Martin Ferguson, Socitm’s director of policy and research, will be delivering the keynote address on the first day of the conference. His thought-provoking presentation will explore what lies in store for the future of public services.


Q1. What does it mean to be the keynote speaker for the first-ever Socitm President’s Conference?

A. I’m excited to be both keynote speaker and part of the team producing the first-ever Socitm President’s Conference.

In a year when so much in Socitm is changing – totally refreshed national and regional conferences, our new packages of Improve services, a revamped Inform research programme and a vibrant Socitm Advisory service – working with our members and partners, we have so much to offer!

Q2. What do you think the public sector might look like in 2030?

A. Public services are at a tipping point. Either we grasp a future that is ethical and secure, where public services conjoin to achieve politically contested outcomes supporting the well-being and prosperity of people in places, or we run the risks that harnessing data and new technologies threaten to undermine the very fabric of our society.

Q3. Is local government making sufficient use of technology, and is it using it well?

A. We have many leading examples reflecting the rich tapestry and diversity of places throughout the UK, while adhering to the principles of: Simplify – Standardise – Share.
Our series of Socitm Inform guides on Smart Places, Location Intelligence and Shared Services reveal a myriad of examples. While lack of capacity, investment, skills and risk adversity are just some of the barriers to be overcome in pursuit of innovation, we have outstanding examples of digital leadership: some of the leading exponents exist in local government in the UK (see our Modern Leadership Guide 6).

Q4. How do local authorities introduce software-based automation in a fair and ethical way? For example, should citizens be told they are talking to software, or is it OK to pretend they are talking to another human?

A. For me, the issue is not to whom the citizen is talking. Rather, it is whether a quality outcome is being delivered. The public are increasingly well-used to ‘talking’ to automated telephone systems, to interacting with maps depicting online order deliveries, to watching interactive TV and audio, to booking trains, flights, hotels and holidays online, to managing a host of specific home, work and leisure services through apps and, now to physically talking to technology based systems.

The trick is to ensure that the benefits and the outcomes are transparent to the user, rather than the frustration of being directed into some kind of technology ‘black hole’. If data is required, then explain why, assess the risks of sharing versus not sharing information, and only then do it.

Q5. How should staff be asked to work with automation – training software to eventually take over their jobs, or in partnership?

A. We need to be honest and open with staff about what is in prospect – not to give them a ‘fait accompli’, but to give them the opportunity to engage with the challenge and to become a part of the solution. We need to say to our staff: “Do your job as best you can, but always ask yourself, why do I do this, is it still necessary and can it be done better?” Innovation is everyone’s job.

This is the approach that has been taken at Aylesbury Vale District Council, where they have turned the organisation inside out, dispensing with traditional service departments and working with their staff to co-design and co-create services that have the well-being of citizens, local businesses and the place at their heart.

Q6. Why do you think adoption of new technology has been slower in the public sector versus the private sector?

A. We need to see the adoption of technology less as competition, more as co-opetition – local authorities working with the best that the private sector and its entrepreneurship can bring to innovate solutions and a future that benefits the well-being of people, places and productivity. Blind adoption of technology for its own sake benefits no-one.

Big outsourcing projects and public-private finance (PFI) initiatives have fossilised inputs and failed to deliver on outcomes, instead mortgaging the future against the present.
We would do well to look at the lessons from the likes of CivTech in Scotland, Data Mill North and new, streamlined approaches to procurement and partnership working with start-ups and SMEs in cities like Antwerp.

Q7. As the automation age inevitably draws ever closer and we see human roles evolve with the advent of machines, what can authorities do to prepare for the changes to come?

A. Encourage your staff to look outwards, not inwards. Adopt a constructively critical mindset. Engage at every level – with citizens and businesses, with universities and communities, with local and global interests. Above all, constantly seek to learn and be generous with your knowledge and expertise.

Q8. What advice would you give to anyone deciding whether or not to come along to the Socitm President’s Conference?

A. Broaden your horizons. Come prepared to give something to your colleagues. Be surprised by what you receive. Above all make the effort to come and participate. You won’t be disappointed.


The event in Glasgow on 8 and 9 May promises to inspire the Socitm community through a phenomenal line-up of expert speakers paired with a knockout conference agenda.

You can find out more information about the conference agenda and read Martin’s full profile here.

Socitm President’s Conference: In conversation with Martin Ferguson