We recently received an open letter from techtribes, which included both positive feedback and constructive criticism about Digital Jersey and our work so far.
As an open, learning organisation we appreciate the value of this sort of engagement, so I wanted to take this opportunity to respond equally openly to some of the points made in the letter, which can be read in full here.
Our current communications programme does include frequent events, meet-ups, social media, blogs, website showcases and engagement with the media, but I do accept fully the feedback that we need to communicate more widely and more frequently. However, I would also say that we are a small organisation with fixed resources and we can’t do it all – we need our members to also represent our industry for, and with us. I am confident that this is an area where we can make positive improvements in 2015.
Before launching the membership we consulted very broadly, including speaking to start-ups, existing and potential Hub users, small and large companies, clubs, associations, charities and, I believe, some of the authors of the letter. We received a lot of different opinions and these contributed to the membership structure, including the pricing. This is not a case of ‘monetisation over the community’ – our individual membership at Digital Jersey costs less per day than a cup of coffee on the high street (though coffee is of course complimentary at the Hub!). I would also add that membership is free for start-ups for the first 6 months, free for students and teachers and free for charities. While remaining open to future changes to the plan, it is important to note that since launch more than 110 members have joined and that the feedback on ‘value for money’ has been excellent, especially from those new to the island.
I agree with the point made in the letter that the subject of immigration is very complex and also that skills availability is one of Jersey’s critical challenges. Digital Jersey has had a clear strategic focus on this from the outset, to both ‘grow our own’ and import skills. As part of this work next month we will graduate the first cohort from our Programming Course. We have also provided support to companies, (both existing and new entrants to Jersey), in making successful licence applications. The process for this sort of industry engagement is in fact clear and simple – after discussing the plans for the applying company, we provide a letter of support to the Population Office to assist in their decision-making. We will happily provide some additional guidance regarding this on our website if this is helpful.
Digital Jersey’s core values include transparency. We are accountable for what we do and remain open to scrutiny from all stakeholders. In addition to our commitment outlined above to communicate more often and more widely, particulalry on open debate forums like the LinkedIn, requests for information will always be welcomed and we will also continue work on the principles of openness and disclosure.
Digital Jersey Expertise
The point made regarding the lack of digital expertise of the Digital Jersey team is also something that we are working to address. The existing team has done some fantastic work to create and develop the infrastructure of the organisation but we understand this now needs to be supplemented with deeper industry knowledge. Once again though, I would say that this is where we need support from members – from providing workshops to strategic feedback. Hundreds of members of industry have engaged with us since we launched and, with the Hub now in place, this is becoming an organic part of what we do.
Last year saw Digital Jersey launch the Hub and deliver on its objectives, including those that are agreed with the States of Jersey that enable us to receive our grant from government. Progress against these objectives will be reviewed at our Business Plan update next week where we will also be discussing our exciting 2015 plans – I hope to see many of you there. I would also like to extend a personal invitation to members of techtribes, or any member of industry, who would like to discuss their views about Digital Jersey and how we can continue to improve.
Chairman, Digital Jersey