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The Need to Generate a Better Quality Technology Environment for Budding Engineers

By Brian Co, CIO, Mapua Institute of Technology

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Brian Co, CIO, Mapua Institute of Technology

In order to foster a culture of innovation, universities and colleges need to be able to support and provide the resource needs of its constituents- be it students, teachers, or non-teaching staff. Often, this means providing equipment, infrastructure, and expert advice.  As with any other industry, the investments made in infrastructure, equipment, and manpower costs can be significantly reduced with the adoption of public or hybrid cloud technology. More importantly, it allows IT to move faster and provision the server needs of its users in less time. 

For our institute, we are using a cloud-based learning management system.  Our students are also given Office 365 accounts upon admittance.  They get to use and keep these cloud-based Office 365 accounts for life. Being an engineering and technology school, Mapúa is looking to 3D printing and Internet of Things as key technology areas.  There is a potential for students to make a lot of headway in these areas.  Innovation is the key and the future is exciting. 

The Diverse Roles and Responsibilities of a CIO

As a CIO, when I started with the institute, my primary role was to transition the IT office from a one-shop model to one which rendered shared services.  This was also the time when the institute was solidifying its offerings as a multi-campus system. 

While I am still doing this to some extent, there has been a shift to advise the business more on how to be more competitive and how to use its strengths to its advantage with the use of IT.   There is also the recognition that IT is not only a service supporter or process improver but also a partner and an enabler in looking for new business opportunities. 

Information technology is certainly an enabler in the sense that it can help deliver solutions and services which can greatly impact the value of the business.  As a higher education institution primarily known for its engineering and technology programs, there is even greater pressure to excel in the use of IT.   We leverage on these strengths while not taking focus off the basics. 

In some instances, there is a need for the institute to take a leadership role as is the case with outcomes-based education.  There is also renewed focus on quality management systems and how continuous improvement can significantly improve the delivery of services.  In both cases, IT is seen as a partner and a source of competitive advantage.  Our role is first, to ensure that the business requirements are met.  Secondly, it is also to look for opportunities for these systems or processes to be made faster, more efficient, repeatable, and consistent regardless of who is doing them.

" Information technology is certainly an enabler in the sense that it can help deliver solutions and services which can greatly impact the value of the business. "

Riding the Digital Wave with Caution

The proliferation of digital content has both been a boon and a bane for higher education institutions.  While this certainly provides our students access to more information, the quality of these content is sometimes questionable.  There is a greater need to inform users about being more selective and prudent on where they get their data.  Not only do we run the risk of being misinformed, the threat of getting malwares and computer viruses is also greater. 

In terms of infrastructure, I think that not only do we need to think of physical servers, bandwidth, storage, etc., we also need to be able to respond to inquiries and how-to’s more quickly and with more depth.  Lastly, we cannot neglect data security. 

This means that it is essential that we invest in user training and in technical support which is not only responsive but also proactive.

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