Experience Article in View From the Edge Magazine

Nearly two years ago, Gregg Chottiner joined the Edge community as the Vice President for Technology Advancement and Chief Information Officer (CIO) with a mission to help progress technology initiatives across the state and region. His vast experience in technology leadership, mainly in the higher education and government sectors, and extensive involvement in systems engineering, uniquely equipped him for providing executive leadership in emerging technologies, migrations of legacy systems, and solutions for complex business and technology programs and projects at Edge and the member-focused community.

Chottiner believes Edge can serve as a technology thought leader for the state, while also aiding the role of digital transformation throughout the different verticals and sectors Edge supports. “Without a unified systems structure, the public sector lacks a sounding board to test and discuss ideas,” says Chottiner. “Edge helps fill this gap by serving as a valuable collaboration partner for higher education and public sector technology.”

Navigating Digital Transformation

In an era of rapid digital transformation, organizations must be agile and innovative to avoid falling behind, but should approach change with a more comprehensive viewpoint. “Digital transformation is as much about organizational and cultural change as it is about technology,” says Chottiner. “Schools must invest time evaluating their organization, culture, and business processes before considering new systems. The review process can be a key transformation point, but some organizations have difficulty initiating next steps because leadership doesn’t understand the significant changes required to deploy a major system.” Chottiner says the focus should be on being strategic, not only being operational or tactical. “Many organizations do not realize the depth of organizational change required before implementing new systems and services.”

Chottiner adds that digital transformation is the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business resulting in fundamental changes to how organizations operate and how they deliver value to users. Beyond that, it’s a cultural change that requires organizations to continually evaluate existing processes. This sometimes means eliminating long-standing processes that organizations use in favor of new practices that are baked into systems.

Thankfully, Edge can serve as a trusted partner to organizations to help make the process as seamless as possible. “Digital transformation can become a scary proposition of not only implementing new technology, but getting your own people trained to support those technologies,” shares Chottiner. “We can guide organizations through the process and give them options and recommendations to keep them moving forward.”

The Transforming Role of CIO

The influx of digital technology is causing the roles in an organization to grow and transform, including the role of CIO. Once busy behind the scenes, CIOs are becoming a more prominent and visible member of an organization. “The CIO is now seen as a strategic business partner, not just an individual who keeps the technology running and computers working,” says Chottiner. Plus, new variables that did not exist 5 years ago are now front and center, requiring CIOs to evaluate how these factors affect their institutions. “The world of a static enterprise architecture has been important for years, but that world is changing; that architecture is no longer located in one location,” adds Chottiner. “Organizations have workloads in the cloud, some on premise, and as software as a service SaaS.”

The level of cybersecurity risks is also expanding exponentially on a daily basis, forcing IT organizations to be both agile and adaptable in recognizing these problems and selecting the right technologies to help combat potential issues.

Assessing IT Operations

To create a bridge between Edge and our members, Chottiner has helped establish EdgePro, a professional services offering for Edge members. EdgePro aims to provide members with the solutions and tools they need to achieve operational efficiency while delivering the highest levels of support and services. “Edge can help create a high level enterprise roadmap for achieving an organization’s short and long-term goals,” says Chottiner. He encourages organizations to contact Edge to learn about the complimentary services and assessments available that can help improve institutional effectiveness and success. “Edge’s mission is to provide professional technology support and services to organizations, and offer valuable insight into designing a customized plan and budget that allows each institution to reach their goals.”

Chottiner says a periodic external review of an organization’s operations is critical to helping maximize success. “Taking a closer look at IT operations, business processes, technology, security, and training from an outside perspective can reveal fresh insight. Utilizing these services can also provide valuable knowledge into industry trends and research that may be useful for an organization. Edge has partners across the technology spectrum who provide the latest information about emerging technology and the opportunities ahead.”

In addition, Edge can augment an organization’s technology team with a variety of resources, including a contracted Edge CIO or a virtual Chief Information Security Officer (vCISO). A highly qualified Edge CIO can help support an organization’s digital transformation, ensure that technology is leveraged efficiently, and support the institution’s overall vision and mission. Not every institution has the budget or need to hire a full-time CISO to manage information security and risk. The Edge vCISO service has been designed to help organizations identify and implement viable information security strategies and policies to maintain security effectiveness and maintain federal and state compliance in a more viable and cost-effective way.

“Edge’s mission is to provide professional technology support and services to the organization and offer valuable insight into designing a customized plan and budget that allows each institution to reach their goals.”

Vice President for Technology Advancement and Chief Information Officer, Edge

Helping NJIT Excel

Chottiner is currently providing managed services to New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) as their CIO. NJIT joined the ranks of the nation’s elite research universities with the R1 classification, indicating the University’s growing body of research and the school’s ability to secure major research grants. While the R1 status opens doors to many exciting new opportunities, the designation also introduces new variables and challenges. “Edge is working with NJIT to determine what the research computing infrastructure should look like and how to best leverage research services and resources to build a sustainable, research environment,” shares Chottiner. “We are focusing on determining a sustainable funding model for research computing to allow NJIT to continue to compete with other R1 universities.”

With positive feedback from the University’s senior leadership and IT department, Chottiner is helping NJIT achieve new levels of success. “NJIT was in the need of project management to ensure all requested projects were accounted for and tracked. We have established a PMO and are identifying deficiencies, addressing challenges, and implementing standard service management processes.” Chottiner is also helping to break down the silos and introduce collaboration and innovation into the IT organization. “NJIT has very dedicated, devoted, and talented individuals. My goal is to provide a level of leadership that helps everyone move in the same direction and allows the institution to successfully meet strategic objectives.”

Leveraging Edge’s Experience

Edge often leverages their vast experience in creating technology strategic plans to create tailored solutions for different institutions. “We often begin by performing a high level assessment or conducting a deeper dive of IT operations,” explains Chottiner. “Based upon that assessment, we can design a valuable strategic plan that an organization can use to improve efficiencies and their ability to meet the needs of users. We also help organizations anticipate technology trends and recommend areas of investment to keep them competitive.”

Many colleges and universities are also seeking to build or expand their online presence. Edge has instructional designers experienced in online education who can bring a wealth of knowledge to the development process. Chottiner says the online campus concept is important to growing enrollment and remaining competitive in the education community.

From an enterprise resource planning (ERP) perspective, Edge has established partnerships with ERP software manufacturers and offers a turnkey solution to help an organization select the most suitable solutions. “Edge can help with business process re-engineering to leverage all the new features and functions of a modern ERP system,” explains Chottiner. “Having these resources available can eliminate the need for organizations to develop their own request for proposals (RFP) and evaluations; saving them significant time and resources.”

To discover how Edge and EdgePro can provide value and important resources to your institution or organization, please contact Gregg at gregg.chottiner@njedge.net.