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ICT conference Our Digital Future: ‘This touches on everything we do here’

What are the digital challenges facing us now and in the near future? This was the question discussed by over 250 ICT experts, functional application management staff and information managers during the Our Digital Future conference on 26 January. We asked some of them how they found the day and what new insights they took away from the conference.


Thijmen Zaalberg (ICT and Education)

'I’ve been working in ICT within higher education for quite a long time, so by now I know the day-to-day processes within Brightspace and all its educational tools. Then it's just really interesting to see how other organisations work with ICT. What impressed me was the presentation by Elaine van Ommen Kloeke from Naturalis, about a new infrastructure that can recognise and map all Dutch species. It's really inspiring to see, with concrete examples, how ICT applications can support scientists in their research.

‘I really do want to encourage colleagues to attend this conference next year. When I saw the programme with all the presentations beforehand, I thought: oh no, it's going to be much too long. But all the talks were divided into blocks of three, which meant it worked very well. Short but very effective!'


Ramses de Wit (Information analyst Institutional Research)

'It was good to meet people from many different departments during the day. At the information fair especially, it was easy to strike up a conversation with other attendees. That was very worthwhile, if only because I had the opportunity to tell other people that they can always come to me and my colleagues for questions about numbers. I also found the content of all the presentations easy to follow and understand, which wasn't entirely unimportant for me, as I am relatively new to the world of ICT and education. The presentation by privacy officers Armin Halilovic and Max van Arnhem particularly impressed me. This has to be one of the most important topics in our increasingly digital world. While I was listening, I thought: this touches on everything everyone sitting here now does all day. It made me even more aware of what data I can and can't share.'

Marjana and Rob

Marjana Rhebergen (Head of ICT and Facilities) and Rob Goedemans (Information Manager)

‘This was a day that’s well worth repeating: an inspiring conference with a really diverse group of institutes and a fantastic keynote speaker. We had an information stand focusing on research support. We were so busy, we didn’t even have time to visit some of the other stands!

‘You can have much deeper conversations at a conference like this than during a normal meeting. For that reason alone, we would recommend colleagues to go next year. Sometimes conversations started at our stand about research support, but then went in a completely different direction. It's interesting to get an idea this way of the impact your work can have on other parts of the organisation. For example, we ourselves didn’t realise that what we do within the faculty sometimes ends up on other people's desks in a very abstract form. Concrete action points have even emerged from some meetings: for example, we will shortly be joining colleagues from LLInC (the Leiden Learning and Innovation Centre) in the digital lab to explore further possibilities for 3D scanning.'


Johan Detollenaere (Information Manager)

‘It was a really good initiative to bring together such a large, diverse group of colleagues in a different setting. This kind of conference is completely different from the standard meetings we’re all used to attending! It’s a great way to exchange views. The keynote speech by Brenno de Winter about privacy and security was an excellent choice: these are issues that everyone has to deal with today.

‘For me, it was also interesting to learn how other organisations deal with research data management. Apparently, Naturalis already has some good initiatives in this area, so it might be possible to work together on this. After all, we need to establish these kinds of services for a broad research field and that’s quite challenging. Perhaps next time the conference could focus on a specific theme, such as education, research or process optimisation in operational management. Then, in addition to short presentations, there could also be a well-moderated roundtable discussion.'

Text: Evelien Flink

IT Traineeship programme

At the end of the symposium, Arjan Schieven (Head of IT at Naturalis Biodiversity Center) came to the microphone on behalf of all participating organisations to promote the new joint IT traineeship programme 'Leiden Bio Science Park IT Trainee Program - Developing Synergy in IT'. The programme that is being developed is an initiative by 5 partners in the Leiden Bioscience Park and other partners are expected to soon join.

The programme is still being developed but will consist of attracting and developing IT talent by placing them with one of the partners for training programmes and gaining work experience and following internships under professional guidance. After the training the trainees will be able to take up a professional position with one of the partners. 

About Our Digital Future

Our Digital Future was organised for staff of Leiden University, Hogeschool Leiden,  LUMC and Naturalis Biodiversity Center who work in ICT support, information management and functional application management. The very varied programme included a keynote speech, short ‘TEDx’-presentations and an information fair.

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