by Mark Chillingworth

Savour this moment in history

May 10, 2010
IT Leadership

The last five days have been addictive to those of us in the news business. A hung parliamenthas not been witnessed in the UK since the 1970s. There is a mixed feeling of excitement and fear as to how the political challenges we are undergoing will affect the economy. This fear is natural enough and one that every CIO knows all too well, the fear of change. In the run up to the election many feared a Conservative victory; others feared a fourth term of Labour. But either party winning was not as big a change as a hung parliament. Not only is a hung parliament a shock to the system, but the electoral reform that is likely to follow will bring about even greater change than many had not perceived before the election. For CIO, looking at the historic moments taking place in Westminster is akin to the dramatic changes that IT has brought about in the business world. The fact that organisations have a CIO is demonstrative of the change IT has introduced, but to those of who have been involved in business IT  for the north side of a decade, it is easy to forget that the internet and desktop computing have introduced changes every bit as dramatic as electoral reform or coalition governments. CIOs looking to placate nervous staff about the hung parliament should remind their teams that their organisation has weathered the dramatic introductions IT introduced. Although change is challenging, I can’t help thinking that this is a moment in history that should be savoured. We live in a country that is congested with history. Much of it was painful and challenging to swallow at the time, but like the death of Mark Twain, the demise of Great Britain is over-exaggerated by those with a chip on their shoulder. These events will become great moments in our history, our grandchildren will ask if we remember the day Britain changed its electoral system. I get the feeling that this decade will go down as one the historians enjoy analysing and story tellers will return to time and time again. Just as story tellers are currently enjoying reminding us of the positive and negative sides of the 70s and 80s in TV like Ashes to Ashes and literature, so the first decade of the new century will be analysed and retold. Cameron and Clegg, if indeed they do form the next government, face a challenge common to CIOs, driving through major changes to the economic policies and electoral system, whilst communicating it to the public (the users of British democracy) that ensures that the public do not fear change and make the most of the functionality it offers.