IWMW 2015: An introduction

I was lucky enough to attend IWMW – Institutional Web Management Workshop – 2015 a couple of weeks ago. The theme of this year’s session was “Beyond digital: transforming the institution”, which, if you’ve read any of our recent blog posts, you’ll know was of real interest to the team here. This week, I’ll be posting a series of blog posts outlining some of the main topics that came up over the three days I spent down at Edgehill University in Ormskirk.

Blurred out photo of a session at IWMW 2015 with title as follows: IWMW 2015, An introduction

This was the first time that I have attended IWMW, although I had heard a lot about the event – and how valuable it is – from colleagues. (Duncan actually wrote a fab series of posts after last year’s IWMW, which I have used as a rough template for my 2015 report.) I was the only person available from the digital communications team who could attend, which made for a few disappointed people who looked hopefully over my shoulder for Steve, Gareth or Duncan when I announced I was from St Andrews. However, it was definitely worthwhile attending – not only in terms of the talks which I heard but also due to the people I met and the experiences they shared about their own institutions.

Duncan said last year:

it feels like the entire institutional web management community as a whole is undergoing a reboot.

And that feeling has definitely translated into action for a lot of the people I spoke to at IWMW. From pilot projects which have made real improvements to the digital assets of institutions (like the hackathon championed at the University of Kent) to investment in consultancy (think big names like KPMG and PWC ) to tales of senior management backing digital teams to expand and grow – it seems like higher education may be realising that transformation is the only way to stay ahead of the avalanche which is change in the digital arena.

One of the main things I have taken away from IWMW 2015 is that most of the digital or web teams in each institution understand what the problem that they’re trying to solve is, but that it’s often hard to sell the solution because it’s a people problem.

I believe that persuading the senior management – the Vice-Principals and Chancellors and Deans – is the only way forward. It’s these people who need to hear that the only way to stay ahead of the digital curve is to embed thinking about who our users are and what they want right at the start of all of our work. It’s something that the digital communications team is working on – not least through blog posts like this one – to stop being the people the institution comes to when they want a website built, and instead be the team that teaches colleagues how they can use digital to help them succeed in their jobs.

In the most part, the prevailing atmosphere of this year’s event was of excitement. There were many wry smiles at the problems which are shared across institutions, but also cheers at successes we all acknowledged… Working in the digital communications team, we are lucky enough to work with and be supported by colleagues from all across St Andrews, but it was only during IWMW 2015 that I realised just how much we, as digital professionals, can buoy each other.

I will add a full list of blog posts about IWMW 2015 as they are published below.

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