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Looking back at 2021… and ahead to GSE UK in 2022

We are now well into 2022, a useful time to reflect on the last year and what this year has in store for GSE UK and its members, writes James Harper.

By the start of 2021, we’d all become more used to working from home, to meeting via Teams or Zoom rather than face-to-face, and other restrictions imposed because of the pandemic. We can expect things to change again. But throughout all of this, the work of GSE has continued.

For example, 2021 saw our working groups such as Security, Large Systems and GSE 101 holding regular one-hour or longer sessions managed by the individual group chairs and committees. If you’d like to get involved in these valuable discussions, the working groups are currently free to join and attend for GSE members. You’ll find working group information here including downloads of presentations and contact details of chairs.

The big event in our calendar was, of course, the GSE UK virtual annual conference in November. The GSE UK Region Board had taken the difficult decision earlier in the year to again make this an entirely online event rather than a hybrid. Erring on the side of caution seemed to pay off, despite the inevitable disappointment, as it turned out the Omicron variant was just around the corner.

Titled Virtually the best way to learn about z, the conference was again a huge success, with more than 1,150 registrations and 240 sessions taking place across seven virtual rooms, all of a high quality, and including a number of excellent keynotes. I’m also pleased to say our tech, the Zoom platform provided by Sheer Edge Ltd and in particular Jo Ferreday and Gino Spolverino, worked extremely well for the second year running. Best speaker awards went to consultant Resli Costabell (Best User Speaker) and Peter Enrico, Enterprise Performance Strategies, Inc. (Best Vendor Speaker).

The 2021 conference also had the support of 10 vendor sponsors, which was much appreciated as they helped greatly to finance the conference. IBM, BMC and Broadcom were Platinum Sponsors, Micro Focus a Gold Sponsor, Luminex, SMT Data and Beta Systems were Silver Sponsors, and MainTegrity, Rocket, Zetaly and Macro 4 were Session Sponsors. The event supported the RNLI and Guide Dogs for the Blind, raising £3,000 to share equally between these two  charities.

As we wanted to make the event as accessible to as many people as possible, the conference was again made open to all, not only GSE members. However, the recorded content and PDFs arising are currently only available to GSE UK members. If you’re not already a member of Europe’s most influential IBM user group , you’ll find more details here.

If you want a taste of this content, the videos from the 2020 conference are posted on the GSE UK YouTube channel along with other material for anyone to watch.

As we seem to be moving from pandemic to endemic, and a new form of business as usual emerges, we are planning to return to a physical event in 2022 while maintaining a strong online/remote element: a hybrid event.

We’ve booked our previous venue, Whittlebury Hall in Northamptonshire, for week one and then plan to host the following week online. We’re still unsure as to how many people will want to attend in person. It’s still in the planning stages but it seems likely that while most sessions will be recorded and available to members after the event, a few sessions may be in-person conference-only. Watch this space for more details as they are confirmed.

The other thing to remember is that we are part of the wider GSE world, meaning you can also take part in events in Europe and the USA, should you wish. Part of the GSE membership fee entitles each company to send a representative to one or more GSE European events—for example, last October’s in-person GSE Guide Autumn Event in Nice, as well as GSE/IBM Technical University events. There are also meetings on specific topics. You can learn more about events outside the UK here, although I can appreciate that getting approval to join such events in person can be difficult at the best of times!

And of course, look out for meetings of the 12 GSE UK working groups in the meantime, and we are always on the look-out for presenters. For example, the Security group has a meeting coming up on 3rd March via Zoom, 10am-5.30pm. We may also see physical meetings coming back.

A member of the GSE UK Region Board and a former UK Region Manager, James Harper CISSP CISA assists the current Region Manager in his role. IT Audit Manager at Barclays, James writes here in a personal capacity.

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