C2 July 13, 2005

C2 Strategic C-level Discussions on Technology

July 13, 2005
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From the Top

“Hitting the Ground Walking”

By Brian D. Voss,
Louisiana State University

I joined the ranks of CIOs in April of this year, taking up my first CIO appointment here at LSU after nearly 20 years in IT at Indiana University. After my first two months in the role – yes, all of two months! – I’d like to offer a perspective to those of my colleagues to whom this might be useful. For those ‘more seasoned’ CIOs perhaps this will offer you a bit of nostalgic entertainment. Or a chance to chuckle, “Hey, look at the newbie talking the talk!”

I assure you that I have been – quite literally! – trying to walk the walk. As I parted company from my former CIO, and as he quickly made the transition from on-a-pedestal-boss to mentor, he offered to me a great piece of advice: “Brian, walk about the campus and meet everyone you can before you do much of anything else.” While this thought didn’t seem at all revolutionary to me, turns out it was the most sound and concise counsel I’ve ever received.

Having just completed that initial walkabout, I see first and foremost that his advice provided the impetus for me to meet, face-to-face, with a significant portion of the community here on my new campus home. It’s one thing to meet people in the course of business over your first months on the job, or to see them in the audience of an auditorium as you’re giving a talk. And it’s quite another thing to walk across campus to their offices, visiting them in their “homes,” and getting acquainted over a cup of coffee or a bottle of water (a staple in every accommodating Louisiana campus office suite!).

You learn a lot this way. And people are genuinely impressed that you’ve reached out to them first. And, of course, it provides the exercise the doctor is always ordering. But aside from the benefits of making a good first impression, seeing things for myself, and sweating off a few pounds, I also extracted a great metaphor for a broader paradigm I should consider as a new CIO: Walk, Don’t Run. Let me elaborate with some anecdotes.

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Need to Know

A Virtual Locker?

Higher education IT pioneer Annie Stunden is seeing her visions as a CIO becoming realities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison: Everyone should have a Web space for file storage, sharing, and collaboration. This fall, as a new crop of freshmen enter the university they’ll have, along with their My UW-Madison Web portal, better access and storage for digital files than ever. My WebSpace, a system for Web-accessible file storage, retrieval, and sharing, debuted last year and proved so popular that the university plans to ratchet up service to accommodate 10,000 new users this fall. (Add that to last year’s level of 19,000, with close to a million files and folders.) With more than 40,000 students attending the university and over 13,000 faculty, the content management and file sharing system is poised for even more expansion. But Madison’s DoIT staff is confident that the Xythos-based system will be scalable enough to handle the expected growth.

eProcurement for the Rest of Us

Larger institutions such as Penn State, the University of New Mexico , and University of Michigan have led the charge in higher education eProcurement, tackling issues like supplier enablement, user education, and integration with the ERP. They’re set up, running, and even sharing benchmark data through efforts like SciQuest’s Innovators Circle. But what about mid-tier and smaller colleges and universities waiting in the wings for a chance to take advantage of the electronic procurement technology? Yesterday at NACUBO, SciQuest launched Express, a new eProcurement product line designed specifically to address the market demand from mid-sized organizations. The tool they unveiled for higher ed is called HigherMarkets Express, a Web-based supplier management tool that is preconfigured and intended for easy implementation with minimal support.

Institutions should not expect to integrate these tools with an ERP system—you need the more complex solutions, like HigherMarkets, for that. But it d'es give mid-tiers an entry point. As Gail Bliven, director of procurement at the College of St. Catherine in Saint Paul, MN says, “About a year and a half to two years ago I first found out about SciQuest at a national conference. And I was very interested, but the solution for the larger schools was too expensive for what we could handle here. I think a lot of people [hoped], ‘If only they could do this for a mid-sized or smaller-sized school.’ … I’ve been keeping my eye on this, and talking to SciQuest off and on.” The college is now evaluating the Express solution.

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Who's Where

The Search Is On

Larry R. Faulkner’s announced resignation from his post as president of the University of Texas-Austin targets March 1, 2006 as a potential date for his tenure to end, with some flexibility based on the search process as well as on how Faulkner’s own future plans unfold. By March, Faulkner will have served close to eight years in office—one of the longest terms in the university’s history. More information on the search can be found at http://www.utexas.edu/news/faulkner/search.html.


Cal Poly San Luis Obispo has announced that Timothy J. Kearns, an associate professor and chair of the Computer Science Department, will become the university’s new vice provost for information technology and CIO on August 1.

We hope he, like Brian Voss, will "Walk the Walk!"

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June 22, 2005 It's Not Simply Infrastructure
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June 8, 2005 Online Piracy, Ethical Behavior, and the Unintended Consequences of Technology
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More archives

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