CIO Australia is running its second annual CIO50 list which recognises Australia\u2019s top 50 IT most innovative and effective IT chiefs who are influencing change across their organisations.\nThis year\u2019s top 50 CIO list will be judged by some of Australia\u2019s leading IT and digital minds. Our illustrious judging panel in 2017 includes the Australian government\u2019s former chief digital officer and now Stone Chalk \u2018expert in residence\u2019 Paul Shetler; and former Microsoft Australia MD and now CEO, strategic innovation at Suncorp, Pip Marlow.\nNominate for the 2017 CIO50\nWe take a look back at last year\u2019s top 25. Today, we profile William Confalonieri, chief information officer at Deakin University who slotted in at number 11.\nRead William's story below:\n#11:William Daniel Confalonieri, chief information officer, Deakin University\n\u201cIn times of digital disruption, to focus on innovative applications of technology is not enough,\u201d says Deakin University\u2019s CIO, William Daniel. \u201cDigital transformation must be understood as the journey to acquiring digital maturity.\u201d\nThis journey consists of two interweaving developments: the first is about achieving digital high performance, while the second involves the transformation of the organisation\u2019s DNA from \u2018industrial to digital\u2019, Confalonieri says.\n\u201cBoth characteristics \u2013 performance and essence \u2013 are necessary for a sustainable digital future. Acquiring digital DNA is the most difficult part of the transformation because it involves people and organisational arrangements, and requires shifting the focus from internal structures to stakeholders. I have led this profound transformation at Deakin,\u201d says Confalonieri.\nThe use of digital innovations to deliver premium experiences to students and staff is essential to Deakin\u2019s strategy positioning. Over the past 12 months, Confalonieri has spearheaded several projects that are transforming the way education is delivered at Deakin University.\nUnder its Watson@Deakin project, the university was the first in the world to use IBM\u2019s Watson cognitive computer to provide advice and answer questions fielded by 50,000 students. Confalonieri and his team worked with Big Blue to create a \u2018student engagement advisor \u2013 used through the university\u2019s \u2018DeakinSync\u2019 online hub \u2013 allowing students to use desktop and mobile devices to ask simple questions or complex queries that require more personalised responses.\nDeakin University has also rolled out \u2018Scout IoT', a location-based services application that helps students with orientation of the campus; and Deakin Genie, a proactive smart agent for students which can respond, run actions, and provide advice. Deakin Genie is composed of several technologies including chat bots, a mobile interface, artificial intelligence and a predictive analytics engine.\nAugmented reality classes are now in full production, with the School of Medicine already on board and with more to come, including optometry and architecture.\nThe university\u2019s IT team has removed all physical phones with phone lines that follow staff on any device, anywhere; and cameras follow teachers in lecture theatres to broadcast lectures to students.\nFinally, the university has built a space called \u2018Deakin Digital Future Lab\u2019 where it runs many pilots and tests \u2018bleeding edge\u2019 technologies. Ideas for all projects are generated through this lab and, when relevant, the university partners with an external organisation to take these ideas to market.\n\u201cIn most cases, we have been the first in the sector in doing these things. No other organisation in the industry can display a set of innovations as we do, and in general, we are considered the benchmark.\u201d\nIn a few years from now, education is going to be dramatically transformed,\u201d says Confalonieri.\n\u201cOne of the trends that is going to affect this industry as many others is extreme personalisation \u2013 to really respond to individuals on a massive scale but with a really intimate relationship.\n\u201cWe need to respond to preferences, even personality traits. From an education perspective, we need to deliver teaching in a way that is relevant to the person receiving that teaching. I am trying to interrogate that space when the learning performance is at its peak. The only way to respond to extreme personalisation at massive scale is through sophisticated digital platforms,\u201d he says.\nA true business partner\nConfalonieri has changed the structure, culture and dynamic of his team as well as how it engages with the rest of the organisation.\n\u201cMy team now works with a 3-dimensional matrix, also with boosted commitment and engagement. A large number of activities have been automated with people being re-skilled and redeployed from operational to innovation activities,\u201d says Confalonieri.\n\u201cMy team has moved from being a service provider to a genuine business partner. A holistic approach has substantially improved the decision-making process, avoiding typical inefficiencies in the deployment of corporate solutions.\u201d\nDeakin\u2019s transformation has repositioned the university as a clear digital leader which has delivered strong financial performances, says Confalonieri.\nThe university has also been the leader in \u2018student satisfaction\u2019 compared to other universities across Victoria for the 6thyear in a row, based on an annual VIC government student survey. This is the most important key performance indicator for the organisation.\nThe Watson@Deakin project was covered by more than 300 newspapers, magazines and TV channels globally In 2015; and Deakin won first place for IT service and support at the Wharton-QS Stars Awards \u2013 the \u2018Oscars\u2019 of innovation in education, he says. The IT group competed against 560 submissions from 31 countries.\n\u201cThis global reputation has many benefits in the form of more students, international collaboration initiatives and projects within the industry,\u201d he says.\nStrong team leadership\nConfalonieri regularly addresses the organisation through several channels, participating in programs and workshops with senior managers as well as leading the digital transformation in his position as vice-president.\n\u201cI am in charge of designing and selling the digital vision for the organisation, which is a pre-requisite to be able to bring the people with me through a very challenging journey,\u201d he says.\nConfalonieri has initiated an \u201cOur People Program\u201d running within his team focusing on values, communication, innovation, culture, equity and collaboration. Deakin also participates in the annual \u2018iSay\u2019 employee engagement survey run by Voice Project.\nIn the October 2015 survey, substantial improvements were seen across Deakin\u2019s IT team compared to the October 2013 survey in relation to the university\u2019s IT team. Staff were more engaged in areas such as entrepreneurship, digital, leadership and career opportunities.\n\u201cOne of my teams won an iSay national award based on the cultural improvement between surveys,\u201d he says.\nKey challenges in education\nThe education sector hasn\u2019t changed in 1000 years, says Confalonieri. But he reiterates that this is the first time in history that institutions are starting to deal with individuals \u2013 millennials in particular \u2013 on a massive scale.\n\u201cThat wasn\u2019t possible before. It\u2019s a big tectonic change in the next five to 10 years. My challenge from here is that I don\u2019t have a map. I am trying to be at the forefront of this change. We are discovering that path as we go,\u201d he says.