Tag Archives: apps

Logic Apps and BizTalk Integration

Bryony Lloyd
Information Services Developer
University of Lincoln

Integrate 2018

I was lucky to be awarded a UCISA bursary to attend Integrate 2018 in London, without which I wouldn’t have the opportunity to go. Integrate is the conference to attend for anyone working in Microsoft Integration and is a two day event.
I turned up early to register, collect my name badge and to talk to other attendees from other organisations. They also had an amazing pre-conference breakfast available! Being able to talk to other people outside of your own experiences with integration and BizTalk, was useful in order to be able to gain different perspectives on integration, practices, and design used within the industry. Lunch times again were another opportunity to be able to talk to the experts of the different companies that were exhibiting. This included talking to current suppliers and getting clarification on configuring and using their product in our environment.

Pre-conference preparation

It is always helpful to establish a few things before going to the conference:
  • Check out the conference website for the agenda
  • Do some research on the speakers attending, look at their work and blogs, this will give you some preparation on their listed talk. Plus, if there is any speaker you are unsure about e.g. who they are, you will not be going in completely unprepared.
  • Make sure you have the hotel and the conference addresses as well as any travel information so you know where you are going
  • If possible, go down the day before and visit the venue so you know where you are going
  • Lastly, be prepared by taking a notebook and pen.

Logic Apps and BizTalk integration

After the welcome talk we went straight into the conference about integration using Microsoft Azure,  Logic Apps and BizTalk.
The sessions were led by integration experts, and experts within their own fields, and from different companies who are using Biztalk and Logic Apps within their environments.  They also covered how Azure is helping companies achieve strategic goals. Within these sessions there were also announcements about new features within Azure and BizTalk 2016. It was really good to be able to hear about these, and have the opportunity to talk to experts on how these can be utilised effectively. Having this information, also means I am able to bring back and relay that information to the integration team at the University of Lincoln.  This will help increase the understanding, effective implementation and upgrade to these new features.
It was interesting and helpful, to hear about the real world solutions, and the pros and cons that have been encountered from the experts who have implemented these, as well as the lessons learnt in the process. We also heard about the pros of having a serverless environment achieved through Azure, and of improved costs, and easier and quicker development. Although we will always learn our own lessons in any development process, being able gain knowledge on throttling and access rights was very helpful.  However, I think the biggest lessons learnt from the conference were always use the best tools for the job and don’t try to fit the tools with the solution!

New technologies and practices (to us)

There were a few technologies and tools which we don’t currently use. Getting a basic understanding, and being able to talk to the experts about these technologies and tools, is useful for future development and deployment within our environment. This was helped by seeing these technologies in use first-hand by other businesses and developers in the conference sessions. Development tools I saw included, API Management, and monitoring tools for the environment such as ServiceBus360.  I also learnt about the integration possibilities with an upgraded environment and best practices from industry experts.
Recaps of both days can be found here: Day One and Day Two. This conference was hugely beneficial for me, mainly to be able to find information on other practices, environments, and experiences outside of the university integration team. Going forward this information will benefit the way we carry out integration as a team.
Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme. 

PPM as change agents

Hina Taank
Programme and Projects Officer
Brunel University

 

Gartner Program and Portfolio Summit 2017 – Guest Keynote

Hina Taank was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner

This blog post refers to my personal views and the learning that I experienced from attending the Program and Portfolio Summit 2017.

I will be blogging on specific Summit sessions such as this one, but information on some of the other keynotes and events can be found here.

How PPM professionals need to embrace the digital

I really liked Jonathan MacDonald’s vibrant entrance on stage. Founder of the Thought Expansion Network, he delivered his talk with immense energy and the music captured the audience’s attention and thoughts immediately. He was able to relay that PPM professionals need to embrace the digital changes and how we think and react will determine our future. He stated that ‘Success is response dependent, not size dependent’ ¹

Jonathan provided examples of wireless in households, message apps and the e-commerce sales making huge shifts in growth, changing how we do business. We must all accept the changes as change agents, otherwise we will fail.

Jonathan worked on an analogy of a big oil tanker and a speed boat both needing to be fuelled, navigated and translated. In my opinion, we need to take responsibility and manage the relationships involving how senior stakeholders handle certainty versus uncertainty. The term ‘fuelled’ was used in the analogy. I think that regardless of the size of the business, they still need to continue to exist and be ‘navigated’, that is providing leadership and direction to the workforce whilst taking risks.  Finally, the term ‘translated’ was used, and in my view, this could be ways of communication so that the ‘oil tanker or boat’ does not crash or stray.  Typically, in business the same would be keeping the stakeholders informed and providing them with choices.

Jonathan is an extremely effective speaker who ended his talk with a statement about ‘Risk Of Inaction’ ².

In my view, this had two meanings: a) we must do something as not doing anything is no longer an option and b) the initial caps of each word forms ROI which means, Return On Investment, therefore activity in business is important for gain profits.

Full details on the presentation contents or how to contact the analysts can be obtained from Gartner, Inc directly.

Disclaimer:

Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

References 1 and 2

Macdonald, J, (2017), Gartner Program and Portfolio Management Summit 2017, Presentation: Innovation – How PPM Professional Need to Embrace the Digital, 12-13 June 2017, pp. 3 & 23

Interested in finding out more about a UCISA bursary, then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme.

Benefits of receiving a UCISA bursary

Vicky Wilkie DSC_0007

 

 

Victoria Wilkie
IT Support Specialist
University of York

 

 

 

 

 

Six months ago I was awarded funding from UCISA to attend the CILIP conference in Liverpool. At the time I was on secondment to the IT support office at the University of York, but my previous (and now current) position was as a senior library assistant at the University Library. I was particularly interested in finding out how the two teams could work more closely together, and also how I could support colleagues in doing this. One key area I looked at when I returned from the conference was ways of merging best practice from both teams and integrating these systems to assist staff with the changes. Lending Services already had a wiki where they stored and updated information for staff. I worked with colleagues in the IT support office to develop an ITSO wiki that could be used by library and IT staff in the day to day running of the merged desk.

Social media

One of the main things I took away from the conference was how useful a resource social media can be. This usefulness took place on two levels; the first was with our interactions with users. At York we are fortunate enough to already have a communications team that look after our social media accounts. They take the time to interact with our users, but also with other universities and related services. They make sure that enquiries are answered, but they also keep the interactions fresh, funny, and relevant, which has resulted in some very positive feedback. In order to complement and promote the work our comms team are already doing, I took inspiration from one of the conference talks to focus on informing our users about the different methods of social media we use to interact with them, and how this might assist them with their studies.

The second level focused on how useful social media can be to professionals wanting to share and research new ideas in the field. During the conference, I used Twitter to disseminate my ideas and engage in debates around the subjects that were raised. I started following a range of different people in the sector, and saw the issues that were impacting on them and their users. One real benefit of social media was that it allowed me to follow themes and ideas at conferences that I was not able to attend, and find out issues that were impacting service desks from different counties as well as from a range of different sectors, from Twitter users around the world.

Collaboration

Andy Horton and Chris Rowell’s talk ‘The Twelve Apps of Christmas’ was especially interesting to me, given that I knew one of my tasks upon returning to the library would be helping with the integration of basic IT support at the library helpdesk. Their enthusiasm really inspired me, and made me assess the different training we could give to staff to help them integrate the new processes. Although we have only just started with this, the overall feedback from staff has been very positive, and we are keen to take this on board to find more ways of updating and improving training, and ensuring that it is as efficient as possible to help staff develop their skills. Collaboration was something I was very interested in, and I was surprised to see how much collaboration was already taking place, especially between library and IT departments. What I took away from the conference was that collaboration is the way forward for service desks; we strengthen each department by working together, and it was wonderful to see how many other places are already doing this.

The final major point that I took from the conference, and that has really impacted on my approach to work, was the idea that we need to celebrate our successes more. As a service desk sector, we have a tendency to focus on what we could have done better and how we can constantly improve. Whilst it is very important to ensure that we continue to progress services, it is also important to focus on what we have done well and where we are really standing out. Since returning to the library, I have worked hard to highlight times when I think that staff have been doing an exceptional, job as this motivates and encourages the whole team.

To sum up, going to the conference allowed me to look at my colleagues and really appreciate the successes we have. Looking at it from an organisational point of view, it made me assess the ways in which our different teams could work more closely together to ensure that our users get what they really need. In terms of the sector, it made me more aware of what my colleagues around the world are doing. It allowed me to share ideas with other people who are working in libraries and IT. It also made me look at the different types of service desks in education. Before  the conference, I had a tendency to focus on HE desks, but since then I have been in contact with colleagues who work in public libraries and FE colleges, looking at what they are doing and how we can work more closely together to improve the sector.

Interested in applying for a UCISA bursary? Then visit UCISA Bursary Scheme 2018.

Looking to the future: sustainable IT and HE web presence

simon

Simon Geller
Senior Project Manager
University of Sheffield
Member of UCISA-PCMG

Day Two at Educause

I started the day at 8am – the Yanks get up early! – with a session on Google Apps. Sheffield was an early adopter of Google so I had an in on this but the session got a bit bogged down in questions about account creation and deletion rather than the potential for collaboration.

Sustainable IT
Then I moved on to a discussion session about sustainable IT. This doesn’t get talked about so much these days – I think one of the reasons for this is that the movement into cloud services means that institutions aren’t quite so conscious of their energy footprint. Also, IT shouldn’t beat itself up too much about how green it is – we enable so much green activity in other areas, from maps and journey planners on smartphones that make people feel more comfortable about walking and using public transport rather than driving, pool bike schemes that you register for online, to smart energy management systems and systems that make industrial processes much more efficient. The future is Green IT that you don’t even notice.

A presentation from the University of Edinburgh on helping non-project managers to deliver success
In the afternoon, I thought I’d better support our Edinburgh colleagues and went to their presentation  on how they provide support for non-vocational project managers. Although the AV wasn’t being helpful the level of resource they had brought to the issue was impressive.

Then I continued on my quest to discover where the web would take us in the next 10 years. The key message from What Will Your .Edu Site Look Like in 10 Years?  is that your web presence will be going out and looking for your customers rather than waiting for them to come to you.

Later I found myself in a compliance session I hadn’t really intended to go, but thought I’d take risk and stick with it. The message I took away from that is that there are two types of institutions – those that have been hacked, and those that had been hacked and don’t know about it. Scary!

The final session I attended that day was a trend analysis run by journalists from the Chronicle of Higher Education , and the takeaway from that was that we used to talk about the for-profit sector, now, in the US at least, the whole area is for-profit. Plus two questions to ask suppliers: “What research is (that assertion) based on? and “What’s the upgrade cycle?” – cutting edge tech doesn’t stay there for long.

 

Engaging educators using open resources and using social media to promote the library

Vicky Wilkie DSC_0007

 

 

 

 

Victoria Wilkie
IT Support Specialist
University of York

CILIP 2015: connect, debate and innovate

vicky-wilkieMy first post focused on how I was going to record the conference and what the overall themes were. For this post I have chosen to focus on the two key breakout sessions that I felt really ran with those themes and showed what information professionals could achieve when they worked together and engaged with their users.

Not just for Christmas: using online courses to engage educators with open resources Regent’s University London

In December 2014, Regent’s University London offered an open online course, The Twelve Apps of Christmas. The aim of the course was to introduce a diverse range of free applications, over a twelve day period, that would allow staff to use resources that would have potential for use in teaching.

The first thing that struck me about this presentation was the enthusiasm that both presenters, Andy Horton and Chris Rowell had, and continue to have, for this project. They both really wanted to design something that would benefit their staff and in turn their users. They also both came from different teams, Chris as Deputy Learning Technology Manager and Andy as Deputy Library Manager. By working together they were able to utilize each other’s skills and create a course that was tailored to their users and became a huge success.

Chris and Andy looked at the people the course was aimed at, and saw that they were mainly academic staff. These were people with: i) a limited amount of time and ii) would not be able to attend group sessions. They took these two points and looked at how they could develop a course that would suit these requirements. What they came up with only required ten minutes a day and was geared towards staff using their own devices. There would be no point in teaching them how to use an app on a device they may not use. I believe this was the real success behind the course. You need to get to know your users and tailor things to their needs. There is no point in designing an amazing course if people don’t have the time to do it.

Social media was also an important tool that they implemented as part of the course. It provided a space for the participants to discuss the apps on the course, how they used them and suggest other apps that people could use. It also gave Chris and Andy instant access to feedback about the course. This feedback could then be used to improve future courses.

Using social media wasn’t a requirement of the course but it was a key part of helping users feel a sense of community. They had somewhere to go where they could ask questions and share ideas. Even if they did not want to actively participate in discussions users could still view them and take away ideas.

When they initially developed the project they did not think the uptake for the course would be high. However they were wrong and through the combination of factors making the course accessible they actually had over 400 participants from around the world. Each of these participants brought their own views and idea to the course adding to the wealth of knowledge already available. The success also meant that they had to dedicate a lot of time to the project however the long term benefits definitely outweighed any negatives.

I believe the real key to the success of this course was the fact that they made sure they tailored it to their users’ needs. By doing this they maximised the amount of users that were able to take part in the course. The use of social media meant that the positivity surrounding the course could be passed on to others.

By looking at the amount of time tutors had and designing the course so that they could use their own devices they maximised the amount of people wanting to do it. It is all well and good creating an amazing course but if your users don’t have the time or the devices to do it then the work will have been wasted.

The main points I took away from this presentation were:

  • Through collaboration we can achieve great things
  • Work with colleagues in different areas and utilize their skills sets
  • Get to know your users and respond to their needs and circumstances
  • Use social media to get feedback from your users
  • Celebrate successes and share them with the community.

vicky_wilkie2With power comes great responsibility – how librarians can harness the power of social media for the benefit of its users

As I said in my previous post this would be the first conference where I had actively tweeted however it was not the first time I had used social media to engage with users. As a graduate trainee at the University of Northampton one of my duties was to update the Facebook page for the library. If I’m honest I wasn’t really sure what I was doing (it was five years ago) and I didn’t really make a success out of it.

An important point to think about when using social media is who your target audience is and how many people can actually see what you have posted. One of the points from the presentation, given by Leo Appleton and Andy Tattersall, was that it takes skill to run a good Twitter feed. You need to make sure that what you are posting is relevant to the people reading it and that you can actually keep your users engaged.

It is also very important to think about response times. Users can upload feedback instantly but they also want an instant reply. If you can’t do this you need to explain why and show that you are listening to their feedback. Not doing so risks a negative message being passed on to a much larger audience before you have had time to deal with it.

A key question that came up throughout the conference was ‘how do we get feedback from our students without constantly sending them surveys?’ If you over survey users they will not send feedback. Social media is a solution to this as the users come to you with the feedback. You can get instant feedback on new projects you are trying as well as monitoring it for longer term feedback.

Social media can help you communicate with a vast number of people including, future students, employees and investors. It is important to make sure that you know the kinds of messages that you want to send to these people and that you keep this message focused.

The main points I took away from this presentation were:

  • Be prepared to fail but use this failure to educate others
  • Make sure you have open communication with your users and listen to what they are saying
  • Respond in a timely fashion and if you can’t explain why
  • Use social media as a way to get and act on user feedback
  • Celebrate your successes with your users

Summary

The second day of this conference was as brilliant as the first. I got to see how many of the themes could actually be put into practice in the workplace. We can get feedback from our users through social media but we also have to be prepared to fail sometimes. Rather than letting this put us off using these technologies we need to use these failures to our advantage.

Communicate with other sectors and users to get feedback and work this in to future projects. Make sure you take the time to really get to know your users and what they actually have the time and resources to do. We need to embrace the diversity in our sector and use it to our and our users’ advantage.

 

 

Guided social learning

julie120Julie Adams
Academic Skills Tutor
Staffordshire University
UCISA DSDG (User Skills Group)

 

 

Learning Technologies 2015: Day 2 – Collaborative learning for the networked age

Jane Hart from the Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies led the most interactive of all the sessions I attended. She began by getting us to work with our neighbours by sharing useful apps/resources from our mobile devices. We then moved on to look at QR codes – scanning some Jane provided us with, then creating our own and uploading them to a hashtag (#gslqr). Finally Jane displayed the stream of these on screen allowing us to explore some of those created. In the final exercise, Jane set up a Padlet for us to add comments to, on how we could use these tools or guided social learning in our organisations.

I have to admit to being surprised that the delegates I was sitting by were not at all familiar with QR codes, having never scanned one before let alone thought of creating one. I have used QR codes quite a lot previously, so was able to help them with this. I was also one of the few who had used Padlet before. Maybe in HE we are ahead of some organisations in using these types of tools to support learning.

I think that getting us to co-operate, share and help one another was part of the point of the exercise, rather than showing us the tools themselves, as Jane went on to talk about some of her work in helping teams develop skills and confidence in using technologies through the use of a learning guide. She outlined a project she had worked on with a team of trainers from Pfizer in India who wanted to know more about using iPads in training.

The key features that helped make this a successful social learning course were that participants were quick to comment on each other’s work, congratulated others on their achievements and helped and supported each other with problems. There was also a continuous flow of conversation.

Jane has written more about this training on her blog –  and the manager of the group, Sunder Ramachandran, has also written about his experiences.

A few relevant things to note from what Jane said:

  • An activity itself does not equal learning – we need a goal. This is an obvious point, but worth keeping in mind when introducing new technologies.
  • Sometimes there is a temptation to use tools/technology just because they ‘are there’, rather than because they are the best thing for that particular job.
  • Other success factors for social learning include respect for others’ views, the group wanting to learn and having a learning champion to help encourage and keep learners on track.

I know there have been a number of staff development courses run in HE that follow a similar theme to this, and encourage staff to learn more about social media – especially the variations on ‘23 Things’ that started in libraries but spread to other staff groups too. Although setting up such courses does take some planning and commitment, most people who participate find them beneficial. I have looked at running something along the lines of ‘23 Things’ previously, but never actually done it. This session make me seriously think of trying to get this done – maybe at a scaled-down version looking at a few key technologies and tools.

Learning Technologies 2015

Mobile learning

julie120Julie Adams
Academic Skills Tutor
Staffordshire University
UCISA DSDG (User Skills Group)

 

 

Learning Technologies 2015: Day 2 – Geoff Stead: Mobile delivery – putting the device in your hand to work

Geoff Stead is from Qualcomm, who make the chips in our phones. They are a huge organisation with 31,000 employees. Geoff described the work they have done to create an internal ‘app store’ for their employees and highlighted the most relevant parts of this. Qualcomm purposely avoided squeezing elearning modules onto a smaller screen and focused more on linking to performance support resources and apps that were free, or resources already subscribed to, as well as content developed internally. More information on the work of Geoff’s team is at the WorkLearnMobile site.

Qualcomm are obviously a very different type of organisation to HE – there were 15 people in Geoff’s team that worked on this and there are many more staff – but there were some lessons we could take from what they have done.

Some of the drivers for the development were ‘guerilla learners’ – those who don’t like to wait for corporate learning and development activities, but like to find stuff for themselves using Google, LinkedIn, social networks and mobile resources. I think we can all recognise these people, and are maybe like that ourselves! As more staff (and maybe students?) adopt this method of professional development we will need to look at how we can best support it.

There are already a number of institutions who have run one-off or regular ‘app swap’ events (for an example see one of the case studies within the UCISA Best Practice Guide from 2013 ‘Changing landscapes: The challenges of IT and digital skills training in the changing HE landscape’) and build resources to promote useful apps from these. These are useful and help to engage staff, but maybe don’t touch all who could benefit. Looking to see how we could bring useful apps to the attention of all staff is definitely an area worthy of further consideration.

Developing a resource for staff or students that highlights the apps available for various resources and systems we already have – library resources, systems such as lynda.com, free news/journal sites amongst others – would be something that we could do, even if this was not as comprehensive as our own app stores. I am certainly planning to see what I could do for my own institution, beginning with a LibGuide page as a starting point.

Learning Technologies 2015