by Chloe Dobinson

City & Guilds CIO experiments with cloud to increase staff productivity

Oct 10, 2016
CareersCloud ComputingIT Strategy

City & Guilds will deploy a cloud-based system which will manage the learner’s services on the digital platform, according to its CIO. The cloud system will enable the organisation to use vocational skills as a ‘strategic fit’ to help drive digital innovation.

Chief Information Officer Alan Crawford has recently moved as a CIO from Action for Children to City & Guilds in which he has seen C&G being a ‘quite traditional brand’ but already having a ‘largely digital background’, previously using digital technology for its qualifications work.

The CIO sees his role as looking at where cloud is ‘disrupting’ in the whole digital market, exploring how applications are being run in a public/private cloud system, Crawford said.

City & Guilds is currently acquiring tech start-ups which will experiment working on cloud hosting, software projects and how they can work together on improving vocational skills across the UK and globally.

The cloud will enable a ‘productivity focus’ for its staff with C&G researching how they can increase productivity making staff ‘work smarter’ and more efficiently.

“The research will create an interesting debate; it will enable flexibility, mobile working as well as providing data and insight of how we can get the staff working more proficiently without having to work weeknights and weekends,” he said.

Productivity and collaboration

The digital strategy which will have a theme of productivity and collaboration, will be led by CIO Alan Crawford, and has seen City & Guilds having a focus on ‘getting peoples skills up’ in the workplace.

“We have got a win, win situation,” Crawford said. “In working together to improve the skills of learners while also improving the technology here at City & Guilds will increase their career aspects, with technology being involved in their everyday work.”

CIO Crawford has found difficulty in developing a system with City & Guilds being ‘open’ to all cloud options.

“It’s a complete mind shift,” he said. “Both myself and the bulk of my digital team who deal with infrastructure are sort of familiar with data centres and end servers… and if I’m honest I’m still getting my head around it myself.”

Another challenge for the organisation has seen skills shortages and talent remain a priority for the CIO.

“I have got to look at what skills, knowledge and experience I need for my digital team to help them get the staff up to speed. It happens in the industry every now and then, there is a step change you have to grasp the opportunities it represents as a CIO for your organisation which is something I am right in the middle of.”

City & Guilds is now focusing on the investments made in vocational skills training after ‘recognising’ the decline; and is working with more employers and government funding agencies to ensure a change.

“I expect to see maybe one or two acquisitions in the first year so I know there is some in the pipeline,” he said. “I want to continue to grow new business where the City & Guilds have prospects around growth… while traditional businesses are doing well at holding their own market, public funding is declining and it’s really gratifying to think you are standing on the shoulders of others,” Crawford said.

Crawford sees the future of City & Guilds in looking to create a better engagement with its learners and the overall learning experience through the use of public cloud.

‘No doubt I am absolutely sure an organisation of our size using key applications and getting them to work in the public/private cloud hybrid which sooner or later will mature.”