Civica Exchange 2019 - Report

I attended Civica Exchange this year to represent the APP User Group, to the wider Civica fold.  The Event was held in Manchester at the Hilton, Deansgate.  An impressive venue, according to Wikipedia:

“The hotel is housed within the 47-storey mixed-use skyscraper with the highest residential living space – Beetham Tower. The architect of the building (described as "the UK's first proper skyscraper outside London"), Ian Simpson bought the top two floors — 48th and 49th.”  

The hotel itself uses 23 floors. On the 23rd floor there is a ‘Sky Bar’, called Cloud 23. 

Hilton - Venue for Exchange

Hilton - Venue for Exchange

The theme for the event was “National change, local focus. Connecting our digital future.”

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The event opened with the very insightful Rob Whiteman, he is a well-known commentator on public service finances and reform, and CEO of CIPFA. He discussed, for me, a calculated and educated view of where we will be with Brexit. Why a soft or hard brexit can’t work, extending Article 50 is dangerous for the government so we are left with…..

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After Rob we heard from Professor Jim Al-Khalili OBE, a seasoned broadcaster who explained how technology can be embraced at a local level to deliver sustainable public services against a challenging political and economic backdrop.

A panel session discussed the subject further with Caron Alexander, Director of Digital Shared Services for Northern Ireland Government and Head of the NI Civil Service IT profession, Girish Solanki, an experienced Head of Digital Change, Tracey Blackwell, South Kesteven District Council who are pioneering intelligent automation to advance  their transformation plans and create commercial value and Tony Hughes (our previous Chair called him Sir Hughes!), many will know Tony from his days working on Flare, he is now a Director in Civica and as always very coherent and succinct.

Post lunch we broke into various groups to reflect different areas of work. I headed to the Regulatory Services Stream.  We heard all about technology innovation from Tim Franklin, he argued that we need to respond, as a local authority, to the increasing pace of change using the latest technology.  Chan Phung discused mastering customer data for service improvement, he showed some impressive tools that are available to Civica customers.  Chan used to be the Chief Innovation Officer at VisionWare, before they were acquired by Civica.  Jason Coward from the Food Standards Agency showed all the new FSA ‘Register a Food Premises’, there are many challenges ahead for local authorities who will be integrating with the new service, hopefully by 2020, not my goal, the FSA’s!  Jason has agreed to talk and Woodland Grange on the same subject.   John Garforth from Oldham discussed driving transformation in Greater Manchester, an entertaining and honest discussion about the challenges he faces.

I then took to the PowerPoint with a presentation about protecting your data.  The presentation is available here!  Finally it was Harold de Neef, a new hire by Civica, he promoted the Cloud, yes it is great according to Harold, no arguments here! Super presentation from the ex SAP employee.


At dinner I recruited two new APP User Group authorities, I hope!  Two staff from Rugby have agreed to present their early adopter progress with Cx at Woodland Grange which will be amazing to see for all who can attend.  Yes, I did visit the Sky Bar for a view over the City at night,  Nick Garnham brought his semi professional camera with him to get some great shots over the impressive Manchester City.  Mine are, well just about acceptable.

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View from 23rd Floor!

View from 23rd Floor!

The final day commenced at 9am with a presentation from Emily Douglin, ‘Why Cx Regulatory Services’  an overview of where Civica are with development of Cx. Robin Smith and Nick Garnham did their Morecambe and Wise set with an overview of Cx licensing (work out for yourself who is who!)  Robin was excited by the progress of the product.  Emily Fitzpatrick who is head of service delivery, provided the attendees with a very helpful guide on implementing Cx, she explained implementation timelines and the help Civica will provide during the journey.  I met Emily for the first time at Exchange, proud Irish passport holder from Cork (Brexit reference by the way!) Lindsay Pearson discussed preparing for Cx as an upgrade afterwards.  Robin was back for the final session, to outline the release schedule for Cx.

An interesting, well arranged and structured event sponsored by the following companies:

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Stop Press!

On Thursday evening the Civica Cx team won the Civica Innovative Team of the Year! Massive congratulations to the team, Deane Greenouff, Divisional Managing Director responded to the User Group’s congratulations: 

Out of the nearly 5000 people who work in Civica it is a huge result for the team particularly in such an important category where there were hundreds of nominations. We wouldn’t have got there without all the input we get from the people using the system so thanks to you all as well for your support.

The winners, Cx Team! Great outfits..

The winners, Cx Team! Great outfits..

Beautiful City!

Beautiful City!

Home to Belfast!

Home to Belfast!

If you have any comments it would be great to hear from you.