The University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) has shortlisted applicants for its newly created CIO role, with a possible appointment to be made by the end of April.
UTS deputy vice-chancellor (corporate services), Anne Dwyer, who herself was in the role some seven years ago (although it was then simply a single head of IT), said the decision to re-create the role was due to the “explosion” of ICT projects at the university.
“The process is still underway,” Dwyer said. “It’s a great field and people have been short listed, but these things take time. There might be a decision by the end of April.
“I was CIO until 2004 and then two of my senior staff split and took on the role but the portfolio has grown under them since then.
“They report to me and they will report to the new CIO.”
The university first flagged plans to hire a new CIO in January as part of a $1 billion upgrade to the university over five or six years which began in 2009. It’s something Dwyer has been considering on and off for several years but has been hesitant due to the typical constraints universities experience around funding.
“Being a university, we’re obviously pretty precious with our money and I’ve basically seen that I just don’t have the time to spend as much time on the strategy and the opportunities so it’s time.
“It’s about the big step up to change… Like everybody, we’re dabbling in things like Cloud computing, but I know the broad capacity of the team a couple of years out from now couldn’t possibly handle the load so we need to do things very differently.
“We’re re-doing all of our buildings and so the intensive nature of technology and data at the university is just going up exponentially, and therefore we need to really spend some time looking at our strategy, about how we’re sourcing and how we’re delivering and what opportunities there are for us in a whole range of new ways because the team is bursting at the seams.”
Some of the key challenges will include the fitting out of the new buildings with ICT infrastructure, decisions around what to outsource and what to keep in-house, and a focus on wireless and mobile as demand from students continues to rise.
“Our rapidly growing e-research demand has driven a project around e-research infrastructure growth to gain some major capacity for our key researchers with things like large scale microscopes.
“Part of the reason I’m bringing the new CIO in is to really sit back and revisit a lot of this with fresh eyes and to make the most of all the new opportunities to be gained from the campus plan.”
According to Dwyer, a new wireless strategy is already underway and the revamp of the university’s current Web presence including the UTS website and the underlying technologies and structure.
“The new CIO will also be involved in a major overhaul of how we go about our logistics and timetabling.
“They really need to operate on a high scale as the team is already working on these things all the time but it’s a big step up in terms of blowing out the e-research and the massive data management we need to do.
“Looking at data analytics across the university and the whole content stream of analytics is a biggie for the person coming in.”
With all the changes to the physical and ICT infrastructure of UTS, Dwyer said it will also impact the teaching and learning aspects as the new technology will enable and support more audio visual and interactive methods of learning.
“Part of the push around ICT is because most of our courses are now integrated across the faculties,” she said. “They include animation, not just in terms of making movies, but in terms of how we use digital animation in everything from science and to forensics through to health management and modelling of data. All of these things now are using very complex and intensive technologies.”
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