Viewpoints – March IT Series – Part 3 of 5
Sixteen years of data is a lot to take in, but EDUCAUSE’s handy-dandy infographic makes it manageable. Don’t mistake the forest for the trees goes the famous saying. This week, we asked our experts to ignore the forest and point out some trees. And by trees we meant specific years that stood out to them as unique in the realm of “Top 10 IT Issues: 2000 – 2016.” Read on for more about BYOD, Y2K, Capex, big data, and why 2013 felt weird.
Our IT Series Experts
Opinions and insights provided by Deborah Ludford, District Director, Information Services at North Orange County Community College District; Jason Pistillo, President & CEO at University of Advancing Technology; Catherine Riedstra, Dean of Student Services at Cuesta College; and Chris Chumley, COO at CampusLogic.
In this, the third of a five-part series, we asked: Did a particular year stand out for you?
Deborah Ludford: 2013 was certainly an odd year, based on this infographic. In 2013 a lot of IT issues started dropped off, and they were ones that had been tops for a long time: ‘Cloud Strategy,’ ‘IT Staffing Models,’ ‘Information Security.’ Some of this may have been related to nomenclature changes, for example ‘Using IT Transformatively,’ I think that was ‘Demonstrating ITs Value’ in years previous to 2013, and after it.
Also, 2013 was a big year that saw an influx of money back into the system as higher education institutions began to grapple with how to support BYOD (bring your own device). Today, students often show up to class with three devices each—a phone, a laptop, a tablet, maybe a wearable. We’ve planned for how to support this, and are building additional IT out as we don’t see this trend changing any time soon. It’s a balance, encouraging students to bring the device they’re most comfortable with, yet having the resources to support all devices. At NOCCCD we throttle users, meaning there are some things we can do bandwidth-wise to make sure that they can fully participate in class, but that they can’t watch movies and such.
Jason Pistillo: Yes, the recent two years are surprising. Schools reduced capital expenditures in 2014/2015 because everyone’s broke—that’s not just the big commercial schools. Traditional and non-traditional schools are struggling right now. Capital expenditures tend to move to the bottom of the list when you’re broke. So moving enterprise solutions to cloud solutions may have enabled some schools to shift spending on IT to other operating expense categories. Infrastructure in 2008 created a need for cyber infrastructure to protect those assets in 2009/2010/2011, then schools realized how heavy and burdensome those investments were, which drove the need for Cloud Strategy in 2012/13, which in turn drove the demand for Service Delivery Strategy in 2014.
Catherine Riedstra: No, there isn’t a specific year that stands out to me. Each year is unique and all of the trends have their time and place. Those of us working in higher education experience the ebb and flow of IT issues. The topics are influenced by the issues of the day. We are focused on something for a while and then the trend falls off until a new issues arises. For example, in the past, security management as a topic was focused on Y2K. More recently the attention has been on the huge and very public data breaches occurring across industries. Security management was a focus with Y2K, we worked on it, and the crisis passed. We’ll do the same now.
Chris Chumley: The year 2016 stands out to me because you see a lot of the trends are focused around data: ‘Student success technologies,’ ‘Institutional Data Management,’ ‘BI and Analytics,’ and ‘Enterprise Application Integrations.’ To me, the theme is about how to better use higher education data, and how to better secure it. My read is that as more and more SaaS solutions are are being deployed in institutions, higher education has to figure out how to integrate all of these data sources. There’s been a definite shift from monolithic enterprise solutions, to more best-in-class solutions. The challenge now is having them all talk to each other and putting a complete picture of the data in front of users so it can make a difference for students.
About the infographic and rankings
EDUCAUSE, a non-profit organization, has been tracking rankings of the Top 10 IT Issues in higher ed since 2000. The interactive graphic highlights yearly trends and also maps those trends across the 16-year timeframe. The issues were selected by EDUCAUSE, “with help from the IT Issues Panel and a representative sample of IT leaders in the community.”
Watch for part four of this series next week, when our experts answer: What 2016 trend is most important to you?