Industry Voice: Why the University of Bristol is supporting the UK IT Awards

Recognising the need for digital equity and academic freedom

clock • 3 min read
Industry Voice: Why the University of Bristol is supporting the UK IT Awards

Keith Woolley, CIO at the University of Bristol, explains why his organisation is sponsoring the 'Best Place to Work in IT' and 'CIO or Digital Leader of the Year' categories at the UK IT Awards 2022.

Why have you decided to sponsor an award this year?

Peer recognition is one of the most rewarding acknowledgments a professional can receive, and as a world leading university we recognise the importance of developing talent to enhance society for future generations. We recognise the amount of personal sacrifice and dedication it takes to become a higher performer, and as an institution we wanted to help support that recognition not only for the professionals today, but for those that are aiming to be the next generation.

What would you say is your company's proudest achievement over the past year?

The University of Bristol is extremely proud of its position for world-class education and global-impacting research. This year, the University of Bristol was ranked 5th in the UK against the Research Excellence Framework with over 94% of our research classed as World Leading or Internationally Excellent.

What have been some of the main challenges of 2022 and how have you overcome them?  How have your own people/teams helped with that?

This year has seen many challenges, from the social impact of the recovery from COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine, to the global economic crisis that is affecting individuals on a daily basis. At the University of Bristol we have developed a digital strategy to help enhance access to education and research by using technology to create a 'boundaryless' education and research platform that is globally accessible, whilst recognising the need for digital equity and academic freedom. My team has been responsible for the design, development and deployment of this technology, creating opportunities for students and staff to collaborate without the need for expensive hardware or travel.

How do you think the industry has changed over the last year and what lessons do you think it has learned?  

Due to COVID-19, the way the world now regards the task of work and where work needs to be undertaken has evolved at a pace never experienced before. Collaboration and digital technologies demonstrated that in many cases the need for employees to be at a place of work was no longer seen as the primary driver. Because of this, the IT industry has had to respond and react rapidly. Attraction and retention of IT talent is now critical to how organisations operate, and the rapid shift from on-premise systems to cloud collaboration has driven a skills shortage in many areas, especially cyber security. I believe that change we have seen is not necessarily to do with technology but with culture and, as with all cultural change, the lesson to be learned is to ensure you have the skills to understand the impact and evolve with it, not to ignore that it happened.

What do you see as the main opportunities for the industry and your company/partners in the coming year? 

As a university, I believe the opportunities are only limited by imagination. As an IT services organisation, I believe that our ability to deliver technologies that will continue to enhance global collaboration and secure research within a secure, carbon- and cost-effective environment are the opportunities for our organisation and our partners.

This article is sponsored by the University of Bristol.

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