Making IT good for society

The purpose of the Institute should be made clear and unambiguous, so the executive team, the boards, council and I have worked together to renew our sense of purpose and add new strategic pillars to support it. We decided that, first and foremost we should be:

‘Making IT good for society.’

This is about both the IT industry and the IT profession. But, crucially, it’s also about IT’s interaction with the world around us, which fits straight into the objectives of our royal charter. That one phrase covers the professional (internal) and the societal (outward-facing) aspects of BCS.

‘Making IT good for society’ sounds simple; achieving it is an exciting challenge. And there’s plenty for us to talk about there. People are concerned about IT because it’s so prevalent in society: they want to keep their kids safe; they’re concerned about privacy; the legal and regulatory areas have a lot of challenges ahead; some are worried about unchecked AI research. This all goes way beyond technology to societal impact, ethics and our way of life in general. That’s why we feel it’s important to position ourselves as a powerful force for good, and to keep this in mind with everything we do.

To help us achieve our vision, we’ve also changed our strategic pillars. We wanted to make them punchier, more modern, and easier to understand. They are:

  • Community
  • Excellence
  • Leadership

Each of these has an important part to play in helping us achieve our goal of ‘Making IT good for society’.

The strategy

Technology exists for our betterment; to make the world a better place for everyone. That should be a given. We want IT to make a tangible, positive difference to the world we all live in. But it doesn’t currently have the great reputation in society that it should have, and there are reasons for that. Our charter and charitable status mean we have to look outwards; ‘Making IT good for society’ is our duty.
We’re specifically required to:

‘Promote the study and practice of computing and to advance knowledge and education therein for the benefit of the public.’ Each of our three pillars will help us support this endeavour. Here’s how:

Community

We’ll galvanise our communities to create real positive impact in IT, and the wider world. In doing so, we’ll make sure they become a powerful resource to make things happen. This includes:

  • Partnerships, alliances and associations: local, national and international.
  • Member groups, networks and communities of interest.
  • Supporter programmes, including campaigns aimed at the public.

All this will allow us to build and maintain valuable relationships, to create advocacy and to amplify our results.

Excellence

We’ll equip IT practitioners for success through qualifications, certifications, CPD tools and so on - to drive excellence in the IT sector. Helping people build lifetime career pathways in IT, giving them access to the tools, products and services to enable this, and reflecting real-world needs in all our work. For example:

  • Sector-wide standards and qualifications with global recognition.
  • Real-world insight gathering and research - both societal and business-based.
  • Employer, academic and government programmes and outreach.

This pillar is about promoting professional behaviour that will lead to better IT and show IT professionals, and the wider society, what ‘good’ really looks like.

Leadership

We’ll lead debate around IT and its impact on society - tackling difficult issues, giving informed points of view, and being a truly independent voice in the field of IT. Working with our communities, we’ll lead change that really does make IT good for society.

This means being influential: building opinions, inspiring debate, driving public understanding and audience engagement beyond the profession and helping strengthen the IT sector.

We’ll do this by:

Engaging with and debating the issues that affect society

  • Leading (and supporting) campaigns that tackle the big IT issues facing society.
  • Offering responsive, reliable and informed points of view on IT issues via our media team.
  • Providing profile-raising communications, so our name is synonymous with IT for good.

In short, we need to become a trusted, powerful and positive reference point for the IT sector within wider society.

My next post will deal with what we will be doing practically. In the meantime we’re keen to hear your opinions, so please let us know what you think by sending your thoughts to: strategy@bcs.uk

Comments (2)

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  • 1
    John Rendall wrote on 6th Dec 2016

    Disappointingly few comments appearing on this Blog; perhaps everyone is still debating how to get started. Coventry Branch has had two committee meetings following our talk on Making IT Good ... so far we have concentrated on improving (branch) member engagement with branch as a way of promulgating the message.

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  • 2
    Steve Burrows wrote on 20th Dec 2016

    Agree with John Rendall. I have just stumbled across it. In my annual report as chair to BCS ELITE members I specifically commented on BCS' failure to inform me or engage me into the new BCS purpose / vision / whatever. If BCS cannot even engage the UK's IT leaders then how the heck does it expect to promulgate this new direction to the BCS membership and the rest of UK society? Just about to read part 2, but if I were not so committed to BCS I would switch off now.

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About the author
Paul Fletcher is the Group Chief Executive Officer of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT. Paul joined BCS in 2014 after ten years at RM Education where he was Group Managing Director of the Education Technology Division. Prior to RM, Paul held senior management consultancy roles with A.T. Kearney and KPMG. He started his career in the Aerospace Industry. Paul is passionate about the role of IT in education and society as a whole.

See all posts by Paul Fletcher

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