This is the slide deck and notes from David's presentation as part of the senior staff fora.
Start with my career which in many ways starts with this Ted Nelson, who coined the term "hypertext."
Encountered his work in the 80’s.
Set me on a path – 8 years in trade publishing and then the media business at a family owned chain of newspapers and television stations.
Transitioned to higher ed – 20 years this march. Bowdoin, Skidmore, here 12 years, 7 of them in a leadership position first temporarily, then more recently on a more permanent basis
4 years as the college’s cio
Amherst has been really good to me – afforded me opportunity to grow professional, but also personally
Met my wife her, many of you know her –when I met her she was the college’s Science Librairan – she's experienced opportunity and growth as well, and is currently the head of access services in the library. Blessed with two kids. We both have a deep appreciation for and love of this place.
Last fact: bet I'm the only member of senior staff who will admit to playing video games
That’s me getting some cardio in a VR boxing game.
Wife took photo, thinks its hilarious, and I couldn’t possibly look more nerdy.
That’s ok – when I reflect on the CIO role, often thought of as the most technically capable person at the college. That’s a different job (the CTO) – what I do is manage, communicate, and lead, and its mostly the latter.
I may look nerdy, but its ok because while I may no longer walk the technical walk I could a decade ago, I can still look the part ;-)
Spanning breadth of experience, from a recent AC grad who just joined the department this fall, to multiple staff with multiple decades of experience, recent retirees who had celebrated their 39th and 41st anniversary, to a staff member who recently celebrated their 50th work anniversary. Testament both to this place’s dedication to its people, and to its people’s dedication to the college.
Some crossover in roles and responsibilities
Less cross training than we would prefer
New: 3 groups - we’ve been changing. Here’s how we were organized
addressing many issues
1. more functional organization
2. simplification - how do you engage with IT? With who? It’s one of these three folks most of the time, but really, it starts with askit and they or one of their team will then be in touch.
3. cross training
4. enhancing collaboration
5. ground work for some of the objectives we have coming up
an engagement with one of these teams typically starts with askIT, often then connects with the person in charge of that function, or a member of their team, but also often connects across these functions. An example - we're about to change the directory, and that's a set of conversations between operations and services teams attending to their various areas of responsibility
This is probably obvious to everyone in the room
A little dry – intended to paint a picture of our breadth of activity across our main realms of responsibility
That said, lets break this down a bit
We document support for almost 100 products, and support over 100. Here’s most of them roughly showing their level of use. Some will be obvious to you, some likely less so.
The number of products we support has been growing over time - example, 12 years ago there was Office and some Wordperfect use we were trying to retire. Today they’re still here (and btw, I’ll get to service culture in a bit, but - we don’t care if you love Wordperfect - good for you, it’s what makes you productive? Use it!) but we also support Office 365, Google Docs, and Dropbox Paper for content creation.
Make joke about hadoop to Brian’s request/point. ‘let me call attention to something as an example. How many knew we manage a hadoop cluster. Admit it, how many knew a hadoop was even a thing? I’m dwelling on this because it’s a nice way to illlustrate the point about breadth of products I’m making. Or maybe just because I like to say Hadoop.
Make a point - important to understand - we make a best effort to support anything folks ask for help with, bit we aren’t and can’t be experts in all of these products.
Operations team. The ‘back side’ of the house
network, systems, enterprise applications like ACData and the college’s website, telephony, software development and maintenance, card office
Services Team - the ‘public face’ of IT
Academics Team - support for technology in the service of learning, teaching and research.
We’re in Converse with our primary datacenter
We’re in the bunker with our backup datacenter
Ultimately this may end up being our only datacenter, and likely to become our primary one
but really, we’re kind of everywhere (show aerial photo of campus):
computers, phones, ethernet and wireless networking in every office
wiring closets in every building
electronic locks at a minimum on the exterior of every building
And increasingly, we’re really everywhere – these are the datacenter locations of Amazon Web Services, which are located globally
Mentioned I was going to riff on the 5 W’s – I’m skipping when, and instead return to what and look through a couple of different lenses
1 service culture – one way to talk about this is to say Luis. Another is to talk about the history of IT high priests and so on
2 cloud productivyt tools, storage, websites
3 forged consortial relationship with NELAC, conducted a risk assessment and began mitigating the top risks, appointed college’s first CISO, began cadence of intrusion detection exercises, training, sans, 67% compliance
4 this last one will seem obvious, but let me show you a few examples to demonstrate
Here are askit tickets by hour and role. Here’s what we observe: we all go home and stop asking for help.
The students don’t
The volume of their help requests is actually low relative to other groups
The volume of their help requests is actually low relative to the student use of our systems – most of us are home when they’re in a very busy period. This is somewhat consistent across IT services, the particular example here is moodle.
This led us to increase our evening hours
This has us working towards even later service desk hours
Let’s look at another example
Hopefully most of you have seen this – this is a part of a brief satisfaction survey we send to anyone who files a support request.
Here’s how we do
1.that’s a credit to everyone who works in IT, and required a lot of hard work to change the approach to the work, and then to execute. But its also a credit to this community - in the aftermath of the staff survey we talk about and are working on developing a culture of appreciation, but we in IT want to say thanks - in some areas we’re already developing one, and we appreciate it! Call to action - raise the 30%, explain why (not about punishing folks, about understanding when we get it wrong and improving. Maybe use example, staff member who didnt get the laptop they anticipated.
2.Now of course I chose a self serving example so I could make the point I make, but we use the askit data in lots of other ways, and a number of us are looking at reporting dashboards daily in this tool. They help us figure out where our workloads are, where we need to focus resources, when we’re experiencing an incident or service outage of some kind and more.
In the interest of time I didn’t include other examples of this approach, but I will mention one – classrooms. We survey every faculty member about their technology use in classrooms.
Last one 10 years ago – 2 years to complete over 1 million, mea culpa – we started focusing on the edge, bringing in some help and refocusing on the core network switching after 2 hardware failures in ~18 months
Jaya – new to the college, only 6 months, but : partnership and collaboration with TLC, Library, and other support orgs on campus. Subject matter expert with a voice in the conversation.
New accessibility technical specialist joining us this winter. IT accessibility working group active for several years, consolidation of technical staff and expertise in IT, lots of great work done on the website itself, training, events we host
~20% of our users forward their email, 71% of people forward to gmail. That’s a signal, particularly when we think about service culture.
Unlimited Dropbox, likely get to the point where we retire most U drives, working with our campus partners (Library) starting to move applications soon
Now THAT’s a turn of phrase. I love that phrase. That’s unhealthy. What does this really mean – the BIG project many of you will have heard about. It’s about replacing the ERP, but it’s really more than that, and ERP replacement is an outcome. It’s about spending time thinking how we do things and finding opportunities to improve.
Smartphones are one of the fastest adopted technologies in history. Almost 100% of our students come to college with one, and outside of here, using it as the first and in most contexts primary way they engage with things online. Here, they can do almost none of that. It’s not just our students, it’s people we hire, both faculty and staff, surprised and sometimes dismayed at how manual our processes are and how little of it conforms to their experiences outside of work.
Google, Facebook, Twitter, and increasingly companies, make changes to their software multiple times a DAY. It takes us months to change our systems in some cases. We need to rethink things. Combination of mobile and cloud is a generational shift in IT product stack – how we source and deliver solutions is undergoing radical transformation, with this generation’s market leaders being challenged by new players. Most of our students – using google docs. Almost none of them using Office365 is one example. New player in the ERP space driving change.
Here’s maybe a surprising fact – IT staffing has been stable for 10 years. Our last wave of growth was in ~2006. There was a theme running through some of these slides: us delivering more and more services and support. We have been adapting how we manage the work and source solutions in an attempt to remain effective in the face of realistic staffing levels. AskIT, cloud sourcing are examples of this.