July saw a very successful Southern African HEUG Conference hosted by the University of Free State in Bloemfontein. The Southern African conference is always a fabulous learning experience for me – there is always a great turnout from each of the SA member institutions, meaning that each session has multiple attendees from each University - this makes for really interactive sessions, prompted and led by the presenter but always with the opportunity to hear how each University has solved that issue or managed that process – constantly learning from each other and improving solutions.
I personally came away with three items to follow up on, where institutions have solutions (or are working towards solutions) that I know my own institution will be interested in.
I’ll also at this point put a shout out to the sponsors of the conference – Visions, Oracle, Fishbowl Solutions & CY2. I speak from experience when I say don’t miss an opportunity to engage with our partners at any conferences you attend – even when you think you know what they do… from the most routine of conversations sparks of genius can fly and solutions can emerge!
Oracle’s Student Roadmap is also worthy of note – presented by the unbeatable combination of Susan Beidler and Lucas Heymans. Again, even when you think you know what is going to be presented, it can be worth a closer listen. Susan and Lucas did an excellent job of presenting the vision for both Campus Solutions and Student Management Cloud – a seamless vision of two parts. Firstly, engaging the audience with a clear picture of the future of Oracle’s systems - a result of completely different drivers from those which produced our current systems. The products are developing at a pace and it was exciting to see that the early adopters have been announced and projects are underway! Secondly, there was plenty of food for thought for those in the audience whose move to the Cloud is likely to be at a slower pace with suggestions of being able to leverage the newer technologies – chat bots, AI, machine learning and blockchain – with our existing on-premise solutions! Excitement all around!
The second part of July saw the Board of Directors meeting in Austin, Texas for one of our 3 in-person meetings (the others being in March at Alliance, and one in December). Firstly let me say that Austin is a very cool place to visit and should definitely be on our list of places to consider for an Alliance conference! Once I got beyond the fact that it was 109°F (43°C) the parks along the river full of dog walkers, the lucky people kayaking, the BBQ places where you order meat by the pound (lb), the live music, and the bats (http://www.batsinaustin.com/) made this a memorable place to visit. Of course it wasn’t all sightseeing! The Board meeting was 2 full days of presentation, discussion and debate – here’s some of the highlights:
- we’re reviewing and renewing the governance structures for the organisation (having reviewed the AG structure our attention is now turning to the Board and Committees);
- we’re reviewing the opportunities we give our solution partners to engage with our members – via HEUG.online and at our events;
- we’re considering how we can best support our international members with some of the challenges they face;
- we’re looking at ways to better support emerging communities – our members who are implementing new applications and solutions;
- in fact, we’re looking at engagement across the piece – engagement of our AG’s with their communities; engagement with prospective members and visitors via our website; tools that we can use to more efficiently engage with one another within the Board, within workgroups and within our AGs and committees; and last but not least – better engagement of the Board members with you, our members, at our events!