The discipline of ICT4D has never appeared more, or less, relevant. On the one hand, technology has become unprecedentedly pervasive, plastic, mobile, and cheap; increasingly based on open standards, emerging, platform-based architectures beckon towards an empowered era of development hubs, mashups, and commercial and social enterprise that increasingly offer those in emerging economies an independent, ‘continuous beta’ of thought and activity. On the other, it might be said that such positive developments challenge those working in ICT4D, and even ‘development’ itself, to engage in a new way with people who are increasingly ‘doing it for themselves’. In this talk, I will try to address some of the opportunities and contradictions presented by this tension, and consider some emerging ways in which ICT4D researchers may contribute to the field.

Speaker: Dr Mark Thompson, University of Cambridge

Mark Thompson is Senior Lecturer in Information Systems at the University of Cambridge. He has sixteen years of information systems and change management consultancy experience, including four years with Andersen Consulting (Accenture). He is currently a Director of Methods Consulting, a UK top 20 business and IS consultancy. He is also a Main Board Member of Intellect, the UK’s leading technology trade association. In 2007-2008 Mark was a senior adviser to the UK Shadow Cabinet under George Osborne, for whom he delivered an influential report proposing widespread adoption of open standards in government IT that has since become policy. Mark was credited by Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude as having laid the foundation for the government’s current procurement strategy and has subsequently authored, co-authored, or significantly influenced a series of a series of white papers, policy documents, and a parliamentary committee Expert Report. Such documents include think-tank document Better for Less, which formed the strategy for Cabinet Office’s Efficiency and Reform Group, a journal article that has been widely shared in government, the Government IT Strategy, and the Government Strategic Implementation Plan. Mark is a regularly invited industry and government speaker, and is also pioneering these ideas in practice through his London-based consultancy Methods, where he is delivering radical transformational organisational blueprints for over 10 pathfinding government organisations.