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Premier 100 IT Leaders: Primed for business

Tracy Mayor | Feb. 24, 2015
Here's how several Premier 100 IT Leaders are structuring their departments to proactively identify business needs and quickly deliver innovative products with stellar results.

On the administrative side, the advent of online payments has increased the total amount of fines and fees collected, a boon to city coffers, while at the same time streamlining city employees' jobs.

"Overall, from the city's standpoint, it's much easier to process and query data, to develop more advanced business intelligence systems and to improve internal procedures," Marcella says of the online push.

With the entire region finally beginning to climb out from a particularly deep trough during the recession, Marcella is conscious of the part he and his department play in keeping and attracting business development within the city limits. "Our goal is to be the municipal government of choice," Marcella says.

Solving problems, brainstorming innovation

The Harvard Graduate School of Education's mission is as sweeping as it is simple: to change the world through education.

As CIO, Indra Bishop was mindful of the part that technology plays in fulfilling that mission: "Higher education is going through transformational change to ensure access to education for all, and technology has been the catalyst of that change," she says. Advances in online and digital learning increase affordability and accessibility, she explains, and they enable learners to progress at their own pace, wherever they are and whenever they can. Bishop left the school in December 2014 to launch her own firm, EdTech Consulting Group, where she is CEO, and to serve as CTO of the nonprofit World Computer Exchange, which aims to better the lives of women and girls through education and technology.

At Harvard, Bishop's responsibility, as she envisioned it, wasn't to provide commodity IT services or spend her time addressing network outages (Harvard University has a central IT division for that) but to offer up proactive, value-added services that help faculty and staff to advance that digital learning strategy.

Step one toward reaching that goal was to re-architect an existing group within IT to be less operational and more strategic. Over nine months, IT worked closely with faculty to draft a new mission for the former Education Technology Services group, identifying skills that needed to be developed or acquired and making several new hires. "The result is an agile, forward-thinking group with a new title — Learning Technologies Group — and a new focus on promoting and sustaining innovation within digital learning," reports Bishop.

The new group's first task was to build an agile course-development framework to allow educators and other stakeholders to quickly create learning experiences for a variety of users and on a variety of platforms. The framework has been used to develop two MOOCs (massive open online courses) with enrollments of more than 35,000 and 65,000, respectively, as well as several more traditional online experiences, Bishop says.


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