This year iTnews will recognise an outstanding IT leader in the education and research field for the first time.
It has been a tough couple of years for the sector, as budgets become smaller and enterprise customers grow ever more demanding.
Our three finalists have all seized upon the challenge of delivering more with less, whether it’s a better student experience, academic collaboration, or IT skills development.
We have narrowed the field down to three finalists – Deakin University CIO William Confalonieri, Monash University CIO Ian Tebbett and Bret Watson, CIO at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research.
William Confalonieri – Deakin University
Most of Deakin’s 47,000 students will have no idea about the hard work and complex systems integration that has gone into DeakinSync, the new web interface that Confalonieri and his team have devised to bring student management, learning management, timetabling, library services email and calendaring into a single view.
His plan has been to make it deceptively simple.
With this project Deakin has seized on the opportunity to position itself as a digital leader by streamlining the digital experience of its students, an experience it hopes they will endorse to their friends and peers.
DeakinSync is off to a good start - 5000 students have already voted in a Facebook competition to name the tool and the first rollout to student users is underway.
The judges noted:
The team at Deakin have delivered an enterprise-class hub with everything a student could need in their day, delivered on any device. The integration of calendars, forms and data from a dizzying array of legacy and cloud systems must have been a huge integration challenge. Over 100 students took part in a full year of trials, and by early next year it will be made available to 47,000 students.
Ian Tebbett – Monash University
In 2010 Monash University embarked on a major IT transformation only to discover that it didn’t have the necessary IT skills base to realise its ambitious vision. Keen to learn from the experience the IT team has launched I Contribute, a professional development program that will see staff map their own contribution to any project and their own professional growth along the way.
The programmatic approach involves the application academic insights into human motivation and adult learning principles onto the behaviour of IT staff, to make their development tangible and drive them to perform and higher and higher levels.
By 2014 Monash expects to have already paid of a third of its investment in the scheme by offsetting professional development costs. More than half of all participating technical staff have given the project a thumbs up.
The judges noted:
The bulk of this three-year program to transform Monash’s IT function played out in 2013 with the adoption of formal professional development programs for its 600-strong IT team. Staff and project planning is based less around 'tasks' and more around personal development within the context of Monash's high-level strategies. The results? IT staff are requesting training that can bring them closer to the business, there was 96 percent participation in performance planning among supervisors and single digit uplifts in satisfaction surveys of staff and students.
Bret Watson - Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research
When the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research obtained funding for two new buildings to house its 1200 researchers, the team agreed that they needed to invest in a hub that would foster collaboration and data integrity, not simply “a large, expensive warehouse”.
However, with an eye to conserving funds for the life-saving studies taking place within, Watson and his team set out to achieve their vision as efficiently as they could. What they have achieved is a complex, Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) based facility including telephony, wifi, Network Access Control and bespoke applications all installed for less than $4 million.
The judges noted:
The fit-out of the Harry Perkins Institute for Medical Research was an ambitious infrastructure project led by a team with a firm handle on costs vs value. The judges were especially impressed by the vision and leadership shown by the project team in recognising where the value lies.
Special thanks to our sponsors: The Australian Computer Society, Dimension Data Learning Solutions and Samsung.