As a "CIO Plus", Joanna Young at the University of New Hampshire runs an IT organization that defaults to yes, focusing on consistently improving the customer experience. To best serve customers, strategic CIOs are fully aware of technology mega-trends and their affect on businesses and the user experience. Young is mobile, social, data driven and optimistic, designing a balanced approach to delivering IT services that is both innovative and pragmatic.
Joanna Young, CIO UNH
The role of CIOs will dramatically change in the next few years and relevancy will be a function of adaptability and ability to align to technology mega trends. One of the keys to success, which Young exemplifies, is multi-faceted role of CIO as best described by Ray Wang's four personas of the modern CIO - Infrastructure, Integration, Intelligence and Innovation. Her staff has been doing 'Bring Your Own Device' for years. Students, even faculty and visitors, have been bringing their own laptops and computers for over a decade. There is more variety of devices on campus than Baskin Robbins has ice cream.
To Young, BYOD feels a bit '5 minutes ago.' All devices on the UNH network have long since been required to register and to access certain applications a VPN connection and specific access rights are required. All that has really changed is the quantity of devices per person (tablets, phones, laptop, gaming devices) and the method they use to connect (predominantly wireless).
In recent years, as devices, mobile applications, and the use of video has exploded, already having BYOD firmly operationalized has enabled UNH to focus on increasing wireless capacity and internet bandwidth. The amount of devices on UNH's network grows about 10% every six months, predominantly on the wireless network. Steadily and methodically, the network team stays ahead of the insatiable demand so that students, personnel and visitors don't have any barriers to their experience.
Young's attention has turned to 'Bring Your Own IT.' The days are long past when people's only option was to get solutions from internal IT. People with even minimal technical skills can avail themselves of a variety of functions, most often personal cloud services such as Dropbox.
This brings challenge and opportunity to the information technology professional. If CIOs are able to get over sternly demanding that only company-owned or configured devices are on their network, they need to start thinking about ways that people can safely and securely do "BYO-IT."
This is daunting, especially when it comes to security and intellectual assets. Security is a real-time concern. The root cause of operational disruptions such as denial-of-service is most often caused by poorly implemented and managed technology. While no IT department can be 100% perfect (there are still humans involved, after all), they are professionals trained and often certified to design, implement and manage technology. Most of the serious issues that Young sees involve 'BYO-IT' gone awry. Her favorite (not) is the server installed many years ago that has gone forgotten and unpatched.
There are certain types of data and processes that arguably must be provided by technology solutions owned and managed by the institution, such as credit card processing or R&D. Also, as the importance of mining and analyzing data skyrockets (big data, anyone?) it is increasingly important for organizations to be able to understand where all the data is.
The first step is to ensure IT is a friendly, knowledgeable, non-judgmental place for people to go with their questions and concerns. Display a pragmatic optimism, one of the markers of a social business DNA. Consider the following:
- Try not to freak out when bad stuff happens. Do what needs to be done to protect the organization and the customer, but remain calm. If the first thing we do is run screaming into the room, yanking network cords out of the wall, that person will never call us again.
- We must communicate over and over again about the services IT provides, and how they are affordable, accessible and delightful. If people don't know we have a low cost, easy-to-use, basic collaboration service, they will find it elsewhere.
- We must educate and remind people constantly about the risks. In words they understand. Not everyone knows what Denial of Service, phishing, Red Flag or 'patch Tuesdays' are.
- Put the issue in business terms, and mean it. "The amazing data you have carefully collected over years of research is valuable to the organization. We want to help protect your valuable work."
- Use personal cloud solutions yourself. A lot of this stuff is pretty darn cool. No wonder people want to use it.
The second step is to be creative yet practical about how to leverage these solutions. At UNH, they are currently evaluating low- or no-cost cloud-based storage solutions to see how they can be offered, including those provided by higher education consortiums.
Expanding a BYOD strategy into a BYO-IT strategy is one way CIO-Pluses like Joanna Young keep the right conversation flowing between IT and the user base. To learn from one of the most innovative CIOs in higher-education, watch this video interview that I recently had with Joanna Young.
This post was co-authored by Joanna Young, CIO of University of New Hampshire.