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CIO Insights: Tuesday Keynote

(L-R) Mike Ridley, Donna Scheeder, Jim Peterson

A panel of 3 CIOs, Mike Ridley from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Donna Scheeder at the Congressional Research Service, and Jim Peterson at the Goodnight Public Library in Franklin, KY, exercised our minds in the Tuesday keynote.  (Thanks, Jim, for agreeing to pinch hit at the last minute for the original speaker who was unable to come.)  Mike views his mission as maximizing the business practices of the university in order to change it; Donna said that information management goes hand-in-hand with technology; and Jim characterized himself as “The Geek In the Wallet” when new technology is being obtained.

Conference Chair Jane Dysart asked the panelists a series of questions relevant to today’s environment.  Here are the questions and panelists’ answers.

What are today’s significant changes and challenges?

Mike Ridley:

Although the CIO is all about the enterprise, everybody does their own IT today, which can be at odds with the enterprise.  We all have “tribal” identities–ways of thinking about what we do.  In a university, there are lots of tribes.

The information age is over, but we’re still holding on to it. Everybody is in the information business now, and we should let go of that metaphor.  This now the age of imagination.  We are completely ignorant of what the future will bring, what the toolset will be, and how it will evolve.

Donna Scheeder:

Each discipline has its own culture, so the challenge is to get an enterprise-wide approach to balancing resource allocation.  We add value by understanding our environment.  There is a big move to teleworking in the government which is affected by device proliferation.  We must align our content and deliver it to all types of devices.  Our biggest single challenge is security and asset protection.

Jim Peterson:

In the end we’re all the same with computers, servers, etc., but IT has its costs.  We need to have an organized way to get the information out at the most effective cost.  Increasing speed increases productivity because less time is spent waiting for it to be displayed.  One cost that we may overlook is the cost of power.  If a device produces heat, it is wasting power.  We must look at other power-efficient devices.

IT is more than the person you call when you have a problem; it is the facilitator to help you get the information you need.

About 35 billion items connect to the Internet today, and that will grow to 1 trillion in 3 years.  What will this mean to libraries?

Donna Scheeder:

Where do we want the library to be?  The library is the screen.  Why can’t we take it to where people already are, where they are in the mood to relax, contemplate, and read?

Mike Ridley:

The Internet will eventually get so big that we won’t notice it anymore. Libraries will be everywhere all the time, and the danger is that they will disappear.

Jim Peterson:

Libraries disappearing may be a good thing–who better to use Google for you than a librarian?

What tips can you as CIOs give us for our own environments?

Jim Peterson:

Show a solid business case for what you want to do.
Talk to your legislators so they will know your problems and requirements.
Help each other when your library is in danger of disappearing.  For ideas see this site.

Donna Sheeder:

  • Figure out how what you want to do must be aligned to the greater goals of the organization.
  • Think like the user.  What do they want to do?
  • Think like decision-makers.  What is the economic reality of your organization?  Don’t think like the library–think like the enterprise.  Be able to frame the problem and work together to form the requirements.  Creativity must happen in areas important to the organization.  It is easy to create content and put it up.  How do we ensure it gets preserved?

Mike Ridley:

  • Think like a participant.  How can you involve yourself?
  • Make yourself visible in your organization as much as possible.
  • Develop a level of tolerance for the various “tribes”.
  • Have a skunk works to develop and explore new things.
  • Central IT is your friend.

We need people who understand the technology but who can talk as users.


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