From the CIO

From the CIO

Kelly Block serves as Interim Chief Information Officer (CIO) for the University of Illinois System.

For more information about Kelly, visit About the CIO.

Recent Posts
May 2017 - Posts

Being in a place where you aren’t fluent in the language can be both intimidating as well as frustrating. Now, imagine having that feeling during an important meeting or as a client looking for a new service. These are just a few of the circumstances that continue to reform the technological language and the jargon used in the IT field.

So, what’s the problem with the IT speak that many of us commonly use? The understanding of these vague technical terms, acronyms and umbrella expressions is missing to many employees whose roles may not include a daily dose of IT speak. Using more commonly known phrases and displaying the acronyms following the aforementioned phrases will help to give understanding to those feeling out of the loop.

As a department, we are here to offer our services to faculty, staff and students across the University System. With a broad demographic of potential customers, our services need be understood by someone who may have little to no knowledge of IT jargon. Without understanding our functions, our functions lose their value. To battle this issue, more descriptive and less “techie” terms and expressions are being used to describe the services that AITS offers.


The goal of this initiative was to provide across-the-board clarity for individuals within AITS as well as for external customers using our services. Something as simple as changing the words that we use can make all the difference.

Is there any other terminology at AITS that could use some clarification? If so, let me know. Comments, suggestions and feedback are always welcome.

Posted by Michael Hites  On May 22, 2017 at 1:41 PM

Planning is a continual and integral function at Administrative Information Technology Services (AITS). AITS utilizes the strategic plans of each of our universities as well as trends in emerging technologies to guide the development of our departmental strategies and priorities for our work.

The current AITS Strategic Plan for FY16 – FY18 is a three-year IT plan that evolves with collaborative input alongside other strategic plans throughout the University System.  In addition to the plan, our actions are driven by our stated values, which are:  Leadership, Stewardship, Customer Satisfaction, People, Integrity, and Learning.  Finally, the AITS Strategic Directions below were developed to prioritize work toward making administrative IT as simple and beneficial as possible for the customers. 

Since the original plan was developed in 2012, a number of things have changed throughout the University System, and the information technology needs of faculty, students, and staff that AITS supports has changed. Stay tuned for future posts regarding some of the biggest challenges we’ve faced since beginning the strategic planning process at AITS and what opportunities we believe lie ahead for enterprise administrative IT at the University of Illinois.

Comments, questions and other feedback regarding the AITS Strategic Plan for FY16 – FY18 are welcome at any time.

Posted by Wendy Bertram  On May 22, 2017 at 1:37 PM

Technology changes. The stakeholder’s demand for technology changes. We know it. That’s what motivates IT professionals to keep going, right? How we handle this change, however, is what makes the difference between innovation and just going through the motions. In the words of Franklin D. Roosevelt, “The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.” So, what do we do when we’re faced with change? At AITS, we adapt and keep moving forward.

In recent posts, I’ve shared how AITS has embraced the changing IT needs of students, faculty and staff through strategic planning, and how we adapt to the changing landscape of IT in higher education as outlined in the annual EDUCAUSE report of Top Ten IT Issues; but, how do you plan for changes in leadership?

The image below provides a visual representation of the extent of the leadership changes during my time at AITS. As is often the case, a change in personnel likely translates to change in IT focus, priorities and strategy, which, at times, can make strategic planning seem more like an exercise in futility.

Actually, I have experienced the opposite to be true. The constantly changing environment of higher education is precisely the reason IT strategic planning is so important because it plays a vital role in the success of the university and the primary stakeholder, our students. At AITS, change does not deter our focus on supporting our strategic directions of saving time, fostering ease of use, improving speed of delivery of IT services, delivering targeted and pervasive information for users, and collaborating with units throughout the University of Illinois System. We embrace it, plan accordingly, and keep moving forward.

Have you had similar changes in your organization? How did you navigate those changes and was strategic planning a part of your process? Next time, I’ll share how small changes in IT speak versus customer speak have positively impacted our ability to communicate with the stakeholders we serve.

As always, comments, questions and other feedback are welcome at any time.

Posted by Michael Hites  On May 22, 2017 at 12:00 PM