CIO Blog: April 2020

COVID-19 and the U of G Technology Transformation

Who led the digital transformation of your company? A, CEO. B, CTO. C (circled), COVID-19

While the meme above is just for laughs, there is some truth to it (and I say that as the Chief Information Officer!). While we can try hard to promote and support the adoption of productivity-enhancing technologies, most people will adopt what they need, when they need it. Case in point: this pandemic has been a significant enabler of technology adoption at U of G.

CCS launched collaboration and productivity tools like Teams, Webex and Jabber over the past few years, and our teams have been working very hard to increase adoption across campus through marketing campaigns and training sessions. I had a goal to reach as close as possible to 70% adoption across campus for Teams and Webex (meaning 70% of staff/faculty were using one of these tools) and our CCS teams worked hard to achieve that goal, though we ultimately fell short. However, as you can see from the table below, the remote work environment changed everything:

Tool Before March 16 After March 16
VPN 300 concurrent sessions per day 1,400 concurrent sessions per day
Teams (Meetings) 60 meetings per week 3,000 meetings per week
Teams (Chats) 25,000 chats per week 100,000 chats per week
Webex (Meetings) 100 meetings per week 3,000 meetings per week
Webex (Hosts) 317 unique hosts 1,762 unique hosts
Jabber 141 activations 406 activations

Unified Communications

125 activations 368 activations

The success of this story lies in the fact that these technologies have been transformational in enabling our U of G community to shift to remote work. I am grateful we had them at the ready, that IT staff across campus were comfortable using them and were thus able to support others through the transition, and that users were able to quickly adopt them and remain productive. I am not saying there have not been challenges along the way, however in terms of the big picture, this is a win.

During a recent town hall meeting with our campus IT staff, I said that the transition we have just pulled off in two weeks would otherwise have taken significant planning, investment and likely years to execute. And here we all are, having 6,000 remote meetings and 100,000 chats each week and successfully accessing the campus resources required to do our work.

We continue to learn how to best support campus productivity and to pivot when required. There have already been many lessons learned, with more to come as we establish our new normal on the unpaved road ahead.