Science Museum CIO Jason Oliver (left) has been announced as the new Director of IT Services at the University of Sussex. Oliver’s appointment continues the trend of academia searching for and appointing technology directors with a heritage in cultural and technological change.
Oliver will join the Brighton based university in September following his three year career with the Science Museum Group.
Oliver told the Horizon CIO Podcast last year that his work at the Science Museum Group, which includes the Museum of Science and Industry Manchester, Bradford’s National Media Museum and the National Rail Museum in York, was in part helping the organisation and its exhibits become a key part of their local communities.
Museums and academia share many attributes and in particular for technology leaders. Not only are both institutions of learning, there is an entertainment, retail, membership and supply chain challenges where technology can make a major difference. Academia and museums are also navigating a considerable change in consumer behaviour with demanding users expecting a range of technology services both as part of their time in the institute and outside of its campus.
“Our demographic is 15 – 30 years old, it is the one where the rate of change during their lives has been so great, so for us the challenge is how do you continually put together content for these people,” Oliver told the Horizon CIO Podcast last year of his role at the museum group and the same challenges will be faced by the technology leader.
Oliver is following in the footsteps of former British Army CIO Alan Hill who is CIO for the University of Sussex, former CIO of Edinburgh City Council Claudette Jones and Laura Dawson, who joined academia from the British Council as the university sector increasingly sees technology as the way it can meet the rising demands of fee paying students, research driven faculties and continually reducing funds from the government.
“We are poised on the tipping point of digital and need to get to the added value,” Alan Hill told the Horizon CIO Podcast earlier this year as he explained how Exeter and all universities face a “speed to market” challenge for research and student needs.
Like many other vertical markets, the university sector is also looking for technology leaders who can integrate off-the-shelf technologies to increase the agility of the organisation, improve its understanding of its customers and lower costs, as Claudette Jones told the Horizon CIO Podcast in the spring.
Oliver’s first CIO role was with the Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation and he has also led major technology teams and projects at the broadcaster Sky, the Royal Opera House and the Home Office.
Dr Tim Westlake, the University of Sussex’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “Our IT Services are key to delivering our new strategy and ensuring that Sussex is a university of the future. Oliver has shown he is an innovative leader in his field and will help us achieve a world class service for our students, staff and academic community.”
Jason, who is also a Fellow of the British Computer Society, an Independent Member on Thurrock Borough Council’s Standards and Audit Committee and a Primary School Governor.
Oliver said of the appointment: “With the launch of the University’s new vision, we have an opportunity through digital technology to deliver an innovative service, which not only supports everyone working on our campus and beyond, but also paves the way for Sussex to become IT leaders within the higher education sector,”