Adelaide Uni's new CRM ready for action

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Adelaide Uni's new CRM ready for action

Major IT overhaul reaches halfway mark.

The University of Adelaide is preparing to go live with its implementation of Oracle's RightNow CRM system as it reaches the halfway point of its five-year IT overhaul. 

CIO Mark Gregory told iTnews the rollout, which began in March, is designed to consolidate a number of smaller, disparate systems with one university-wide solution

"We are just now turning it on, so we'll have users on it in the next month, and we'll be finding out how it works at scale," Gregory said. 

"[We have], for a number of years, run it at the smaller scale at the departmental level, but not at the enterprise level. It's pretty encouraging that everything is working, we're out of the test phase and we're now opening it up to the campus."

Gregory attributed the rapid rollout in part to agile project management. 

"Our original plan was a five-year investment package. We're about two-and-a-half years into that now, so we're halfway," he said. 

"We have a significantly expanded staff - we've insourced a number of things we had previously been doing with an outsourced model. 

"So I'd say we're at full-steam now, and things are transitioning quite quickly. We have, at any one time, around 70 in-flight projects.

"A number of our projects are delivering on-time and ahead of schedule, which is great, and that's one of the benefits of agile." 

With the RightNow rollout nearing completion, Gregory's team will now focus on several other major projects on the horizon.

"We're deploying course guides and transfer tools, and we're doing a complete redesign of our enrolment and admissions processes to try to make those smoother and more native for students," he said. 

"And we're looking into doing some mobile apps that can allow them to do things like pick their courses in a faster way and interact with their university business as fast as they can."

While the university is making major IT investments, Gregory said it has approached cloud computing cautiously and continues to host most of its systems in its own data centres. 

"We're predominantly still within our own data centres, although a number of our major applications are in the cloud. We do HR processing in the cloud, our CRM tools are largely cloud-based too," he said.

"We will be transitioning, from a web-hosting standpoint, a lot of our hosting services and CMSes to the cloud as well. 

"But for the bulk of our storage and ordinary applications, including our Citrix environment, most of that is running in an internal cloud."

In January this year the university completed a Citrix deployment that saw it virtualise around 90 applications. Since then, the number of virtualised applications has further increased. 

"We've now got about 140 applications now running through Citrix, and pretty much all the things you previously would have gotten through our computing labs," Gregory said. 

"It's been very successful. We've rolled it out for both students and staff. We see 2500-3000 unique sessions in a day - that's without a lot of advertising. It's largely word of mouth in part because it's been fresh enough, as a scale deployment, that we haven't wanted to test it out to its full extent yet.  

"But there has been quite a bit of use. When you design it, you don't know what the use patterns are going to be, but we see people hop in, they want a quick, responsive session because perhaps they don't have access to a piece of software, or they have to check something." 

Where students had previously been limited to Windows workstations, Gregory said the Citrix rollout had led to a greater diversity of devices using the university's network. 

"We're seeing around 9000 unique devices that have used this system so far this year, apart from our own devices. So that's evidence of the bring-your-own-device phenomenon," he said.

"On a given day, the campus will see around 60,000 devices on it, and of those 40 percent will be iOS, Android is a big chunk as well, and then Mac and Windows. We're seeing all three environments, as well as Linux and Windows Phone." 

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