UMIT recognized as a top technology team in the nation

UMIT recognized as a top technology team in the nation

Despite the many challenges introduced by COVID-19, the University of Miami’s department of Information Technology (UMIT) has not wavered in its commitment to using technology to support University students and faculty and staff members. In fact, its resilient and nimble efforts have allowed the team to excel in many areas, including business process improvement, innovation, and customer service. Due in part to its ongoing efforts to improve multidisciplinary collaboration and a steadfast focus on technological transformation, UMIT was recently recognized as one of the top technology teams in the nation by CIO Magazine. 

“The CIO100 Awards celebrate 100 national organizations who are using IT to deliver business value through innovation,” shared Ernie Fernandez, vice president for information technology and chief information officer. “It’s a mark of enterprise excellence, and because the award is given to organizations rather than individuals, it’s an honor that everyone at the University can take pride in.”

This year’s recognition as a CIO100 recipient is also a reflection on the team’s recent endeavors during a pandemic. Beyond the daily technological hurdles of servicing three campuses, COVID-19 presented opportunities for the UMIT team to rethink the many ways in which it worked with and delivered value to the University community. To start, the team quickly transitioned to an online learning and work environment; allowing students, faculty, and staff to adapt to CDC guidelines with minimal disruption. This effort not only required cross-collaboration among teams in UMIT, but also active participation with many administrative, academic, and research partners. 

Behind the scenes, UMIT rallies units to move the University online. 

“The pandemic forced us to work quickly without compromising quality,” said Fernandez. “A few examples were the need to create automation to support symptom checking and contact tracing, care management for student health, and enhancing the UMiami app. We had to build new applications in time for the fall semester, so we scheduled Zoom meetings with colleagues across the University from May through August.”

In addition to shifting to an online environment, traditional IT support services—such as troubleshooting, training on new learning platforms, and supply chain management— continued. To Fernandez, the customer-service-facing aspect of UMIT remained just as much of a priority as innovation. By implementing new changes, such as drive-up tech service, volunteers to provide academic support, and increased customer service training for current employees, the team excelled as the pandemic continued to create new challenges. 

“Our people enthusiastically embraced the client-centric mindset we are building at the University, where feedback is a gift, and we take ownership of the client’s experience to continuously improve—individually and as an organization,” Fernandez pointed out. “There was a pervasive attitude of ‘we are in this together’ and ‘the work we are doing is as important as anything we’ve ever done.’ ”

Throughout the ongoing impacts created by the pandemic, UMIT continued to support advancements on several fronts—including the comprehensive COVID-19 testing program and automating the systems used to support students in quarantine or isolation. Combined with all the other actions taken by the University, the department played an important role to ensure the UM community could safely remain on campus for the fall semester. Additionally, the improvements in Blackboard integration and adoption of video technology created enhanced virtual teaching and learning platforms for faculty members and students. 

While there have been many accomplishments in 2020, UMIT does not plan on slowing down. “One byproduct of the pandemic has been the acceleration and acceptance of digital transformation,” said Fernandez. “All faculty are now using Blackboard, and most everyone is adept at using collaboration tools like Zoom and Teams. We’ll build on this foundation to continue to advance the mission of the University through innovation.”