Education is About Teaching, Learning, Research and Service

By Bruce Maas, Vice Provost for Information Technology & CIO, UW Madison

Bruce Maas, Vice Provost for Information Technology & CIO, UW Madison

Challenges in technology to meet enterprise needs in 2014

At the strategic level, the University of Wisconsin is trying to do two things. One is to scale technologies that we can and become more efficient in the use of our resources. Examples include things like well-equipped campus data centers with enterprise storage portfolios and virtualized servers, replacing locally administered facilities. The second is o use cloud scale where appropriate to reduce our total cost of deploying services. Long term savings from these strategies are being reinvested into support of teaching, learning, and research technologies, allowing us to invest in the mission as we scale back utility costs. My wish list is to continue to make progress on  his to enhance institutional competitiveness.  

"Scale technologies and become more efficient in the use of resources"

Solutions that would make my job easier

First, we work hard to differentiate between fads and genuine trends. There is a dizzying array of consumer technologies being injected into our institution. We  end to keep those that advance our mission, and discard those that distract. The pace is astonishing, and this does keep me awake because not all  technology is good technology for our mission. The other thing that worries me is the increasing participation of nation-states creating security and privacy  issues for us. It is one thing to have smart individuals do this; it is another to have the power of governments brought to bear. With so much reliance on  technology, the potential for disruption of our business by cyber terrorists and criminals goes up as well.

Trends impacting enterprise business environment

In higher education, teaching and learning is rapidly being taken to scale with various types of technology. This trend will continue to accelerate and we need  to be able to create and enhance infrastructure services in support of this. Couple this with the rapid maturation of cloud services, and you have a tremendous  opportunity for competitive differentiation. That is, if you can execute with transformations sensitive to the mission that have the potential to enhance learning  in a scalable way.

Changing Role of CIOs

My role is clearly to be strategic, and to achieve results based on adherence to institutional and IT strategies. The University of Wisconsin organized IT to  allow me to focus on this aspect, with emphasis on stronger engagement in primary mission initiatives, with a Chief Operating Officer responsible for delivery  of enterprise services. In addition, several Deans were hired over the last three years who are collaborators, prudent risk-takers and strategic developers. I am  blessed with exceptional peer partners.

My word for a CIO

My advice is pretty simple: Be mission focused. Higher education is about teaching, learning, research, and service. Be laser focused on technology to  advance the competitiveness of your institution. And build a team of strong, capable leaders who embrace the mission and customer service.

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