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Max’s Minute: Office of Information Technology 2020 Annual Report

In this Max’s Minute video, Max Davis-Johnson, CIO, Office of Information Technology (OIT), highlights some key takeaways from the recently published 2020 OIT Annual Report:

  • OIT metrics for 2020;
  • OIT department successes;
  • what are our critical success factors;
  • and then some of the challenges OIT faced in 2020.

Video Transcript

Max’s Minute – OIT Annual Report – March 2021

Hi, this is Max Davis-Johnson, Boise State University Office of Information Technology. Today I want to talk about OIT’s annual report. And there are four areas in our report that I want to briefly discuss and then hopefully you’ll be enticed to go read the report.

I’m gonna talk a little bit about:

  • OIT by the numbers;
  • I’m gonna talk about some of our department successes;
  • I’m going to talk about critical success factors;
  • and then some of our challenges.

OIT by the Numbers

We have the ability to count almost everything we do and so we do. And so we really like numbers. And so I want to just highlight three numbers and hopefully you’ll go back and look at some of the rest because to me they’re all interesting.

One number I want to highlight is 55,000. That’s the number of customer engagements that we did over the course of 2020. That’s Help Desk calls, that’s tickets that were submitted, that’s chat responses and walk-in support. 55,000.

Another number I think is really interesting is 1,700. We have 1,700 wireless access points scattered all across campus. But what’s significant 10 years ago we only had 50 wireless access points scattered across campus. So you can sort of see the growth of wireless in those numbers.

And the last number I want to emphasize is 47,000. That’s the peak month of zoom calls that we did, 47,000, in one month.

2020 Successes

The reality is we had a lot of successes last year in 2020. Many of our successes were driven by our response to the pandemic. All across campus we were asked to do new things, different things, put new technology in place, but a tremendous amount of work that we did adapting to the pandemic. Whether it’s classroom technology, helping the contact tracing, helping the public health office, all these things that all of us were engaged in across campus was a big part of our success last year.

But a couple of really interesting successes I do want to highlight is Research Computing and their implementation of our new high performance computing cluster called Borah. It’s 10 times bigger than anything we’ve ever had on campus. It’s a unique partnership both with Idaho Power and Idaho National Labs, and I’ve talked about that before. But that certainly is one of our highlights non-pandemic highlights.

Critical Success Factors

So let’s talk a little bit about what has helped us be successful over this last year. The bottom line is it all boils down to the people that we have and how we engage.

Our projects that are most successful are the ones where it’s more than one team working on it, it’s more than an OIT team working on, but it’s a team that we’re partnering with that’s outside of OIT. And certainly that contributes to our success.

And then our ability to engage early in a process is also critical. If we can get in when we’re trying to develop requirements we can work certainly with a group that has needs and identifying the best solutions.

You know our people are responsible for our critical success factor, the good people that we have, and then our ability to engage early in the process are probably our two key ones.

Challenges in 2020

And certainly we have challenges just as we had many successes. Certainly there are things that we could have done better for a variety of reasons. And we always have room for improvement.

One of our main challenges and something that is important to all of us is being able to retain good staff. I firmly believe that OIT technical staff is the best technical staff in the state. We’re the most well trained. We’re the most responsive and we can do really amazing things. Unfortunately private industry also recognizes that too and so our ability to retain our key staff you know is one of our challenges.

You know, budget is certainly a challenge for all of us. All of us never have enough budget. But I think at the same time we’ve been blessed this last year with one-time funding efforts from the federal and state government that allowed us to do a lot of really good things in response to the pandemic, but also be able to get caught up on some of our aging infrastructure replacement needs.

Looking Forward

I think we’ve done some really good things and at the same time we can always do better. Like I said, our success is based on our ability to engage with everybody here on campus, and I look forward to this next year and another successful year partnering with the University.

Thank you.

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You can view the 2020 OIT Annual Report on our website at

Max’s Minute is produced by the Office of Information Technology at Boise State. (208) 426-4357 (HELP),,