Update from Dan Simms, IT Services, on the progress we’re making beneath the digital iceberg

Email to all staff from Dan Simms, Chief Information Officer, IT Services, on 3 May

Employee Survey | Fantastic opportunity to give us your honest thoughts. March 2023

 Dear colleague, 

We recently hosted the Times Higher Education Digital Universities UK conference, where Monica Jones (Chief Data Officer) and I presented a session looking at how the University is using data for its digital transformation.  

Data is a vital underlying component of our overall strategic aims and without proper storage and access to appropriate data major programmes like Digital Transformation can’t happen. To support this transformation we have recently published the new Data Strategy which will fundamentally change how we use data to power research and enable innovation. 

In addition to the Data Strategy there are a lot of other changes happening in IT Services.  

While you will be familiar with some aspects of our work, such as the networks and software you use daily, that’s only one small aspect of what we do. Alongside solving more than 100,000 IT issues and requests during the past 12 months, we’ve also delivered significant positive change as part of our strategic programmes. 

A big theme for this year has been modernisation and getting the basics right. We describe much of what we’ve delivered as being ‘beneath the tip of the digital iceberg’, as it’s not always immediately visible but is hugely important. Most of the progress has focused on updating our old systems (we call this addressing ‘technical debt’), improving our cyber security position and laying the foundations for future digital transformation.  

We’ve summarised our progress from the past 12 months in our IT Annual Review, so you can see the headway we’re making, even if it might not always be visible. 

Looking ahead 

In the past, IT has been very focused on technology and infrastructure. Whilst this is important, it’s crucial we now modernise and add the most value we can, with a focus on good-quality, fast-paced delivery. 

As Chief Information Officer, one of my main objectives is to drive the cultural change to deliver this. As part of this, I want to put people, learning and development and customer service at the forefront of everything IT Services do.  

So, in the future, expect to talk to us less about wireless access points and more about how we can collaborate to improve the student experience or win that next research grant. 

Moving forward, we want to increase engagement with the University community and share more transparency around our work. We want to give you a better look at what lies beneath the tip of the digital iceberg. Our ambition is to drive positive changes that improve your experience at the University and enable you to deliver higher-value work, whatever role you’re in. We also want to spend more time with our students, helping them succeed with their studies and enjoy their time at Leeds. 

However, I don't want to sugar-coat it; we know we have challenges and improvements we still need to make. Delivery of the basics and providing excellent service is not only what you expect of us but what we expect of ourselves. We will continue to deliver these improvements during the next year via the Digital Enablement (IT modernisation) and Be Safe (Cyber Security) programmes.  

It won’t be quick or easy, and there will be challenges, mistakes and setbacks in the future – but together, we’ll work through them, learn from them and be stronger for it. 
Finally, I want to thank the whole IT Services team for their hard work and dedication during the past few years, and everyone who has patiently supported us.  

Find out more 

If you have any questions about our work, please come along to the open session at 10am on Thursday 4 May where you will be able to put them to the IT Executive Leadership team.  

I look forward to updating you all again on our progress in the future. 

Kind regards,   

Dan Simms, Chief Information Officer  
IT Services

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