NEWS: Survey insights capture UC tech community interests and guide the year ahead

By Laurel Skurko. The year is ending with great news for the UC tech blog team, thanks to insights shared by over 1,000 UC tech community members, including tech employees, other UC staff, among others. Results confirmed high satisfaction levels (overall, 71%) with the news, events, jobs provided each week. At the same time, they verify opportunities in the year ahead in areas such as networking opportunities and skills-development. Participants provided important details regarding their demographics (60-70% report to a chief information officer) and interests (including, AI, the environment and more). Further, they shared critical data regarding communications preferences (networking events, department emails and LinkedIn are important information sources). The UC IT blog news team will use this information to help inform our work in communicating about tech and supporting tech growth at the university, and welcomes others to do so as well. For those with additional feedback or questions, feel free to reach out to UCITblog@ucop.edu.

Survey methods

The UC Tech blog news team extends gratitude to nearly 1,000 UC community members who provided feedback on their demographics, interests and communication preferences this year. Using several methods, focusing on annual email surveys, as well as some interviews and focus groups, the team gathered insights to enhance its work. The UC Tech blog news team conducted three surveys, segmented by audience type, as follows: (1) the UC Tech community, consisting of 10K people, the UC staff community (consisting of about 167K people), and UC Office of the President employees (approximately 2K staff)  to capture perspectives from both “tech” and “tech adjacent” community members, among others. The results will help the UC IT blog news team in its efforts to communicate about tech, while supporting the capabilities and careers of a growing number of UC tech community members.

Conclusions and possible next steps:

  1. Change the UC IT Blog name to “UC Tech News.”
  2. Respond to interest in artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and data analytics. (Provide expert insights and opportunities to collaborate.)
  3. Include the environment as a topic important to the community, along with DEI, critical for belonging, innovation and more.
  4. Generate skills development and networking opportunities among UC Tech staff.
  5. Build a culture of fact-based outreach to improve awareness ratings of UC Tech news, events and jobs. The strategy includes content planning and modifications to email outreach, networking events, as well as updated approaches to the LinkedIn Group and UC Tech Slack in 2024.

The results, by category, are described below, along with visual results representing the UC tech community. Results that pertain to UC staff in general are also referenced. Details of all results can be referencing the “sources” page of this document.

Demographics

In all three surveys, approximately 90% of respondents were UC staff [1], as anticipated, given the targeted distribution of the survey through news sources aligned with this audience. Among those who responded to the survey distributed to the UC Tech community, the proportion of “Tech” (IT employees) vs “Tech Adjacent” (Tech Adjacent are not necessarily tech employees, but they work increasing technology or tech teams) split was 75:25, indicating a significant representation of individuals working in technical areas across all audiences. [2] Around 60-70% reported directly to a Chief Information Officer (CIO) as opposed to being “distributed” (reporting to someone outside IT.) [3] Notably, there was a higher response from UC Berkeley and a lower response from UC San Diego, perhaps due to the heavy distribution of the survey during the UC Tech conference at UC Berkeley in July, 2023. [4]

[1: Demographics – role (staff vs faculty, vendor and students]]

[2: Demographics – type of staff role: IT or “other” (largely tech-adjacent – usually high- involvement in tech]

[3: Demographics – reporting relationships among “IT employees” – approximately 60-70% report directly to a CIO, called “Central,” another university leader, called “Distributed”]
[4] Among UC tech employees, the top overall populations and top survey respondents were reversed for UC San Diego (a relatively small number of tech employees) and UC Berkeley (a relatively high survey response rate.)

Satisfaction 

Consistent with previous findings, the community expressed high satisfaction with the UC IT blog news (71% overall satisfaction). The newsletter was identified as a top source of information and and providing excellent recognition of colleagues. Areas for potential focus in the future include: (1) sharing information to help community members enhance their skills; and (2) expanding their professional networks. [5]

[5 – Interests and preferences – overall high ratings for the newsletter, with opportunities in (1) skills-development and (2) networking support, as indicated when prompted to respond to each of the four newsletter value propositions: recognition, learning about new resources, learning new skills, and networking/collaboration]

Communication behaviors/preferences

Regarding awareness ratings, overall awareness of important UC Tech campaigns ranked relatively low, between 27% for the UC Tech Conference, and 11% for the Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). [6] These represent the percentage of UC tech community members who said they were aware of these campaigns. For the UC staff community in general, ratings ranked even lower, with about 30% being unaware of any of these campaigns. Improved communications methods are expected to increase awareness ratings going forward.

[6 – Communications behaviors – event awareness ratings, indicates % of respondents who listed that they were aware of any of the above campaigns.]

Among communication preferences, the survey revealed continuity with previous years. The top digital sources of professional news in tech were the UC IT Blog (ranking first), conferences like the UC Tech Conference (second), and email updates from one’s own department (third). In terms of social media sites, LinkedIn held the top position, followed by Stack Overflow and Twitter for UC Tech community members. [7]

[7 – Communications behaviors – top channels]

Updated communication strategies were identified as an opportunity for increased awareness across audiences, especially for priority events and messages such as those related to information security/cybersecurity (which did not rank among top 5 interests among UC staff, overall). [8] A majority of respondents reported reading the UC Tech blog monthly or occasionally, with 22% reading it weekly. [9] A notable 62% expressed openness to a trade association/alumni association business model, which would involve individualized outreach, based on one’s demographics (i.e. location and/or interests). [10] Additionally, 80% were in favor of changing the name of the UC IT Blog to “UC Tech News.” [11]

[8 – top interests among tech community members only. For general audiences, similar except that information security did not rank as a top interest today.]

[9 – Communications behaviors – blog readership by frequency]

[10 – Interests and preferences – interest in individualized, target outreach – where content would be based on a CRM to understand readers’ basic demographics – UC location and interests]

[11- Interests and preferences – willingness to change the name of the blog to “UC Tech News”]

Methods

Surveys garnered a robust response this year, with nearly 1,000 responses. A total of 900 participants responded (530 from the UC IT Blog, 300 from UC Net News, and 70 from UCOP Link News), in addition to many interviews and focus groups. This valuable feedback informs targeted communications and improves services, aligning with the team’s commitment to delivering updates on news, events, jobs, and opportunities for networking and skill development.

[12 – Survey methods, included the email surveys listed above, in addition to interviews and focus groups conducted between July 17 and November 2023.]

Learn more

To learn more, please see the complete survey results and contact UCITBlog@ucop.edu with your questions or comments. Thank you, All, for your help in contributing to these important results, and to your ongoing guidance. 

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Author

Profile photo of Laurel Skurko

Laurel Skurko
Marketing & Communications Director
UC Office of the President