UB op-ed: 7 tips for CIOs from UB Tech® 2019

From inspiring change to saying “yes,” keynote speakers provided powerful ideas to move institutions forward
Kelly Walsh is CIO of The College of Westchester in New York.
Kelly Walsh is CIO of The College of Westchester in New York.

The keynote speakers at UB Tech® 2019 offered excellent takeaways for CIOs and other institutional leaders.

Nido Qubein, president of High Point University in North Carolina, provided many powerful ideas during his talk on “The World as It Is Going to be.” Among them:

  • High tech is nothing if you don’t have high touch. We must keep this in mind as we move toward increasing automation via artificial intelligence, robotics, etc. We have to ensure that students, faculty and other stakeholders have ready access to service-minded staff who can help them find answers and solve problems. 
  • “The future belongs to the actionists.” Change is inevitable. Those who take action can help bring about positive changes throughout our institutions and the world.
  • Find a way to say “yes.” It’s easy to say “no,” and IT leaders can often identify plenty of reasons why a given effort might not work, but we need to find ways to say “yes.” CIOs need to lead the way and help our institutions make necessary changes.
  • Leadership is the ability to inspire people to do what needs to be done. This is a fundamental requirement for today’s CIO. Many of us have staffers, who are overworked and stretched thin as they attempt to learn new skills while supporting growing needs from across the institution. We need to find ways to inspire our staff to keep moving ahead, keep innovating, and keep finding a way toward yes.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham CIO Curtis Carver also offered great tips as part of his closing keynote. Among them:.

  • Delight your customers. Things as simple as unlimited email storage can be a “tremendous satisfier.” Carver even noted an occasion on which a faculty member, whom he had never met, came up to him and hugged and thanked him for solving what had been an ongoing challenge related to email storage limitations.
  • Crowdsource information gathering when developing strategic plans. Let students and staff describe their pain points. Use those points to begin plans that will transform them into opportunities to delight.
  • Move or change exponentially. Look for opportunities to leapfrog and get ahead of the curve. For example, campuses that went “mobile first” or “mobile only” a few years ago are now where they need to be, while others are still playing catch-up.  

Kelly Walsh is CIO of The College of Westchester in New York.

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