Since arriving at Sydney’s Macquarie University campus in 2009, CIO Marc Bailey has made inroads into reducing ICT costs while improving the technology experience on campus for both staff and students.
He joined the University after working as a CTO for Australian company Objective Corporation.
Bailey spoke to CIO Australia about some of the projects he has been working on and why a set of digital scales is his favourite gadget.
What does your role at Macquarie University involve?
My job is to figure out how to time shift and place shift anything people want to do on the digital campus. To do that, I organise our world into four different areas.
- Experience – what it feels like to be on the campus.
- Information – looking for business intelligence and other data mining techniques to see how we are doing.
- Technology – the design and implementation of products.
- Strategy – how we will spend our money and how much is spent.
What are some of the projects you are working on?
Our rollout of the open source customer relationship management (CRM) software Sugar CRM, known as Tracker within the university, is our largest single investment area in terms of software this year. The SugarCRM system is currently being used to manage relationships with more than 44,000 Australian and international students.
We’re working on a project called iLab where we let students have their own personal computer lab on the Internet. Students can be at their house and access the computer lab online. This has been very successful and usage has gone up by 600 per cent in the last semester.
We are also looking to reduce our carbon footprint with a solution called iPrint. That means people print something, walk to any printer on campus, swipe their card and the pages come out. If you are a student, you will get charged for that. If you’re a staff member, the faculty will get charged. By doing this, we reduce the amount of lost and forgotten print outs. Nothing comes out of the printer until the student or staff member swipes their card.
How important is it for you to have a good working relationship with the CEO, CFO or other C-level executives?
It’s absolutely critical. In our situation, the equivalent of the CEO is the Vice Chancellor and I report to a COO so we have to be lock step.
What are some of the challenges you face in the role of CIO?
Empathy and trust are the two things you have to care most about. The added dimension of a large organisation is consistent communication and consultation. In a university there are extra dimensions because there is no single call to arms, whereas in a corporation you have shareholder value and bottom line.
In a university there are idealistic, social and financial imperatives. It’s not so easy to pick the right answer or the optimal course. That’s a constant challenge to try and strike a balance that doesn’t just keep stakeholders happy but advances the state of the digital campus.
What are the three biggest issues facing CIOs today?
The modern CIO only has to worry about three things – bandwidth, identity and encryption.
Identity sets you free in the sense that if you know who your customer is than you can offer them better services.
With bandwidth you have limitless possibilities.
Encryption means privacy and the ability to put something on the Internet or Intranet and not worry about it.
What is your favourite gadget??
I have a set of digital scales so I can track my weight. The scales take four AA batteries and connects to a Wi-Fi network.
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