John Holley sees the importance of ICT being seen as ‘trusted advisors’ across the organisation.
Holley is Head of ICTS at the Manukau Institute of Technology and the primary objective of his role is to strategically plan, lead and manage the provision of high quality information technology and telecommunication services that are reliable, relevant and cost effective.
He also provides direction to future planning and management to strategically align ICTS with business and academic priorities.
“I work with all the directors and deans,” says Holley. “I see them every month and also collaborate across the organisation with tier three managers. Effectively, ICT is becoming a trusted advisor so people are coming to us, saying, ‘we have a project, how can you help?’
“We also put up our own website www.icts.manukau.ac.nz. In the strategy section you will see the projects we are doing. We are going to turn those into wikis so people can comment and contribute to them.
”It is about us understanding not how they should use our services, but what services people are expecting from us and therefore trying to meet those.
“My job is also understanding their expectations and adjusting their expectations as to what our capabilities are. That requires a process of constant engagement, so there should be ‘no surprises’. That means we are involved in pretty much all initiatives going on across the organisation.
”There is no constant sitting in the office, it is about going to them and finding out what they need, what their issues are and what they need us to provide.”
He says ICTS implemented the Gallup Strengths programme and the staff now have their Gallup Strengths reviewed. With 12 nationalities in his 30 staff, this helps create a common framework.
It is about creating a language so we understand everyone’s strengths and what they bring to the organisation, he says.
For instance, one of the programmes they launched last year was on ways to deal with conflict. “Conflict is often something people avoid, so how do we address conflict using the people’s strength profiles?”
“As well, we have established an informal mentoring programme where we identified talent in ICTS and matched them with mentors in the organisation.
“The mentors have to be from outside ICT so the mentoring provides them a safe environment.”
We are expanding this programme this year, he states.
Holley says one of their recent project was the deployment of Skype for Business.
‘We rolled it out to more than a thousand MIT staff. We will see the tangible benefit as people start to use the collaboration facilities.
“We used our Business As Usual resources for the rollout across 11 campuses and it was a significant challenge with all the networking.”
“In many ways, Skype for Business is a bit of a Trojan horse because, as we start to use the collaboration capabilities, video and instant messaging, it will lead to a wider adoption of various conference and other collaborative technologies.”
Along with the move to Skype, his department has done work around the cloud, such as using Amazon QuickSight, for staff use.
“In ICTS we have young staff so we talk a lot about emerging and disruptive technologies. This is something I also do along with my technical architect.
“We also talk to faculties around things like 3D printing, IoT and augmented reality. Our focus is on having a really strong reliable network/systems architecture, along with security, so we can really jump into those technologies quickly.”
He acknowledges the challenge of keeping systems operating, while also developing new products and services.
“One thing we are doing is making sure we are using all the automation tools and technologies that we have, to create space and time to do new stuff,” he explains.
“That means doing simple things like rolling 700 machine across the organisation. Previously, we would roll it out ourselves. We got those delivered and imaged and asset tagged, so it took away all that work and we just had to deploy them.”
The ICTS department is also replacing the student computer laboratories with Citrix thin clients, so there is zero touch configuration for those labs, he states. The team is also leveraging the Altiris management software for fast updates.