by Tae Kim ‘15
About three years ago, Kevin Boyd, Chicago Booth’s Chief Information Officer wanted to hear what the students thought of the Booth Portal. The feedback he received was far from positive: “Students told me that they found the portal difficult to use. Websites were hard to find, pages weren’t consistent, and because the search function didn’t work well, students were using Google to find things on OUR websites.”
So, back in the summer of 2013, the Booth IT and Marketing teams led the charge to develop a new Chicago Booth intranet – more professional, user-friendly, and, ahem, functional for the students, faculty, and staff of Chicago Booth. RFPs were sent to seven different vendors, with the final selection going to Blast Radius (formerly known as Designkitchen). Blast Radius had previously designed the Booth external website and was already familiar with our brand, team members, and content management system, Sitecore.
This would become one of the largest IT projects in the school’s history, involving input and participation from virtually every department at Booth. Boyd stresses, “We were creating a new technology platform, a new search engine, a new calendar, conducting information content studies with different program offices, organizing content, and partnering with students to see what they really wanted.” The most common complaint among students was the portal’s frustrating login requirement, which involved logging in with either a CNetID or Chicago Booth ID, for what seemed like a countless number of times. Boyd says that establishing a single login for all users was, and remains, a top priority for Booth’s IT team.
As many of us are painfully aware, a single login is still not available for all the applications that we deal with on a daily basis. The IT team is diligently working through each of the 80+ applications on the intranet to convert all the apps to a CNetID. The IT team decided that if Chicago Booth was going to have a single login, the CNetID, the one used by the University of Chicago applications like Chalk, would be the logical solution. So for better or worse, future Boothies won’t even know what a Chicago Booth ID is.
As I learned more about the history of this project, I could not help but be impressed at the thoughtful and collaborative approach the team had taken to such a massive and complex process. Boyd says, “We didn’t look at other schools’ portals because this was about what OUR students, faculty, and staff wanted.” He hopes that all users feel that the new intranet provides them with a clean and easy to navigate product that meets their needs. As for his number one priority, “Most of our apps are single login enabled, and we are on a roadmap to get there 100%.”
Project Manager Darlene McKnight just about nailed the sentiment for the whole team, saying “It was a great experience to partner with EVERYONE at Booth. It was challenging but a lot of fun!”
In true business school fashion, the IT and Marketing teams want to continue to improve this product. The Booth Marketing team is handling future content management changes while the IT team focuses on application functionality. They are excited to hear our feedback and suggestions for improvement, so don’t hoard your great ideas and send them up to the project team!
The author is a second year serving as the co-chair on the Technology Committee of the Graduate Business Council