Friday, May 11, 2012

Should IT's Role on Campus Change?

I found a thought-provoking article written by Timothy M. Chester in Campus Technology entitled Don't Dictate, Facilitate.

Here are some of the most interesting points that Chester makes:
  • In response to rapid technology shifts, IT's role on campus is changing. How CIOs adapt to the new reality will determine whether their organizations remain viable and valuable, or see their relevance slowly diminish.
  • As IT professionals, we are just starting to come to terms with what the internet has truly wrought. For the better part of 10 years, we viewed the internet age as a shift from a bricks-and-mortar world to an online, digital world. CIOs and their IT organizations expected to be at the forefront of the resulting transformation of higher education. We were wrong.
  • Instead, we find ourselves in an environment that is fast evolving from one based on one-to-many relationships to one based on many-to-many relationships, powered by social networking sites, consumer and cloud technologies, and mobile devices. In this brave new world, we CIOs have a lot less authority and control than we expected. Indeed, some question whether our organizations should continue to exist in their present form--and they're right. If we are to be of value to our institutions, we must change the way we organize our services, the way we exercise leadership, and the way we engage those outside IT.
  • The many-to-many world has made it far easier for students, faculty, and staff to obtain basic IT services without ever going near the IT organization.
  • Why should we build expensive data centers when Amazon, Google, and Microsoft can provide cloud computing services that eliminate high, upfront costs and replace them with lower, variable costs that scale?
  • While fully compatible with the needs of a one-to-many world, our continued emphasis on centralization led Walt Mossberg, technology columnist for The Wall Street Journal, to proclaim in 2007 that the central IT organization in higher education was the "most regressive and poisonous force in technology today."
  • In a many-to-many world, efficiency and innovation no longer correlate to centralized authority and control. Today, we need to think less about being the sole drivers of innovation on campus and focus instead on creating an environment that facilitates the innovation of others.
  • ...transition from service providers to service enablers...
  • The most important word in the phrase "credibly convening important conversations" is credibly. In the one-to-many world, credibility was based on reporting lines and formal policy. In a many-to-many world, credibility is created and maintained, not in sweeping fashion, but through constant interactions, each and every time the IT organization engages end users or delivers services.
Please read the entire article, Don't Dictate, Facilitate, and share your thoughts. Do agree that a "many-to-many world" is what we need in education or are you satisfied with a "one-to-many" approach?

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