Interview: Simon Thomson, IT Systems Manager at Pembroke College

What are your thoughts about ICP?

I’m enthusiastic about the project, which I think will be a very good thing for Pembroke and the University as a whole. It’s an ideal opportunity to make changes that will bring significant benefits.

What approach are you taking to ICP at Pembroke?

We intend to organise some user groups within the college, followed by pilots, to evaluate the best way of getting optimum results from the new system.

What challenges are you envisaging?

It’s the unknowns. At Pembroke we’ll need to do our own pilot with a small selection of users to work through any issues once the new system is live. We’ll need to test the resilience of the network, check the configurations work and that Wi-Fi is reliable. And, of course, take action if there are problems.

What are the advantages?

Well, it makes such sense to use a headset plugged into your desktop computer, leaving both hands free for doing things like typing or taking notes. Whenever I have to do anything at the same time as talking on the phone, I use my mobile with hands-free. That will become the norm and I think in the future people will look back and be amazed that we used to hold a receiver in one hand or scrunch up one shoulder to keep it close to our ear. Of course people who like holding a receiver can still do so – although it might be plugged into their computer rather than attached to a traditional telephone.

I can see the new functionality being particularly useful to both the Development and Academic Offices. The Development Director is often travelling and it will be so much easier for him to keep in touch with college and Alumni; it will also be cheaper because it’ll be over a data network.

A lot of academics attend conferences and work away from college, especially out of term time. It will be much easier to get hold of them through their one University extension number wherever they are. Admissions is a critical time when the Academic Office need to be in constant contact with academics who are interviewing and making decisions. The new system will be better for this as well.

I can also see the web collaboration feature being a valuable tool. It can be used for interviews – it’ll be much better than Skype, which we tend to use now – but also for discussions between tutors about candidates. Communications will just be so much quicker and more convenient than at present.

The irony is that the most expensive thing gives the least functionality – i.e. desktop handsets. Why would anyone choose that option?

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