Tom Andriola

Tom Andriola, CIO of the University of California, sat down with Techwire to explain how the campuses and the overall system acquire technology, how the IT Leadership Council strategizes on technology purchases, and about how each location customizes its own technology. Here is a summary of the questions and answers:

Techwire: How did you get to your position?

AndriolaThe university a few years ago was looking for a CIO who had a little more business background, someone who could blend thinking about technology’s strategic impact on the university and its mission with the ability to work across the diverse stakeholder base of a university.

TW: How does the system work, with separate campuses having the ability to purchase their own technology?

Andriola: In addition to the 10 campuses that we have, we also have six health systems where part of our mission is patient care, so we actually run hospitals and clinics. I cover all aspects of the mission, research, education and patient care.

Very much the same as Cal State — each of the campuses, locations, each of them has a CIO for their location. My role is to chair the council which (brings) all of those CIOs together to develop common strategies across the universities to help manage our costs, to invest strategically around the use of technologies, as well to find innovation in which we find best practices to scale for other campuses to use.

TW: What kind of technology does the UC use that is specific to the mission?

Andriola: A campus has a set of activities that are supported by technology. The primary system that covers a lot of that is the student information system, which we call the heartbeat of the campus environment. Each campus runs its own student information system. There is some knowledge sharing, but they do configure them to optimize the way they run their campus. There are a lot of complementary systems to that — in some cases, hundreds of smaller applications — that are interfaced. 

Another main application at the campus level is the learning management systems. Those are the main two, but any campus, but any campus, especially of our size, you are going to have hundreds of applications.

TW: And health care?

Andriola: If you go to the health care side, the heartbeat is the electronic health record application. ... Our medical centers all use the same vendor, but some used a shared instance of that and some use their own version. And we pool that information for a systemwide view.

TW: What advice do you have for vendors?

Andriola: Think of us as one multi-unit organization. Bring a value proposition that allows us to solve problems but also present a clear business case for the financial investment and what the return of that investment will provide.