Educational institutions face increased pressure to manage media as video use grows exponentially. Although rolling out an enterprise media management strategy seems daunting to many institutions, it is a critical goal for those implementing a digital plan. Higher education struggles with major inhibitors in building a central strategy for media management and delivery, however. These inhibitors include constraints like limited time and scant resources, as well as complicated organizational structures that see competing projects mapped against often outdated governance mechanisms. It's enough to make even the most zealous change agent wince!
What differentiates a central media management and delivery project from other major technology projects on campus? They affect many different business owners within the institution. Where the learning management solution involves teaching and learning and the student information solution involves the registrar, a media management solution spans the realms of teaching and learning, the library, recruitment, marketing, community relations, and operational activities. This gives many more touch points to a central, comprehensive approach to media management but also affords the opportunity to create a project that has broader value to a wider group of stakeholders.
Guidelines to Follow
Many institutions I have spoken with don't know where to begin or what guidelines to follow when rolling out a comprehensive media management and delivery strategy. To take this journey, institutions need to consider five critical, yet simple, rules that will lead to a greater chance of success when tackling enterprise media management.
- Let Realism Rule. For the first step, figure out your project scope based on your current capabilities. Many institutions will set lofty goals, but everyone involved knows the chance of reaching that vision approaches zero, and the project then fails to launch. If you want to create an end-to-end digital platform connecting all aspects of your institution, then you need to dial back your scope to something more realistic. Use other major central projects (or lack thereof) as a guide to know what you can aim for. There is no faster way to kill a project than to set unachievably high goals, so be realistic. Then you can create real buy-in for the project.
- Create Invested Governance. To ensure that the project catches fire (in a good way) and grows across your stakeholder base, you need to involve key influencers, budget holders, and stakeholders via a governance model. The director of teaching and learning, the associate deans in key departments, the librarian, the marketing folks, and the IT folks must not only be onboard, but invested. Proper governance makes it much easier to connect funding sources and ensure that the right change management and support mechanisms are in place to increase adoption as you proceed. The key is having an executive sponsor (president, provost, VP of academics, etc.) to drive the creation and management of this governance. Remember that governance bodies can only succeed if the people in a room are willing to work on and own the project's success.
- Go for Small Wins. To get your stakeholders onboard and engaged, you need to build a value argument that benefits them relatively quickly. Does science need a repository? Does the library want a student-facing media gallery? Does continuing education need a better mobile experience? With a wealth of great projects to tackle, choose the ones that directly impact your governance in short order; this will enable you to proceed with the bigger aims of the project. Pick the subprojects that will get the most exposure and create the greatest impact in the shortest time. Connecting the LMS to your media repository, for example, can be a huge win across the board and is relatively simple to accomplish. Make sure you outline these small wins clearly and provide detailed reports on their progress as you advance toward the project's larger vision.
- Choose a Trusted Technology Partner. To ensure your environment works, pick the right platform and/or technology partners. This means really nailing down your key use cases and then developing your platform requirements by working with your stakeholders. You can then match your budget and requirements against a set of technology vendors or consultants to find the right partner for your group. Get out there and get a read for the market. Talk to other institutions. Talk to vendors. Act like an investigative reporter to dig behind the hype and the marketing — a trustworthy technology partner will show you the good and the bad and work through the inevitable growing pains and pitfalls that come with any major technology project. Ideally, if you choose well, that technology partner will become a trusted advisor to you and your governance team, and you will become a trusted advisor to their company as the relationship evolves.
- Stay Future Focused. The last and perhaps most important piece of advice is to keep looking into that crystal ball to anticipate the future. A project has momentum, which will carry it forward for a period of time no matter what. Focusing on short-term aims is important, but you need to keep everyone inspired with the long-term vision. To ensure that the project remains relevant, you need to read clues to predict the likely future. If you can create a solid (yet adaptable) vision of where you want to go, you will have a critical yardstick with which to measure and report your progress to your stakeholders. Whether you are the director of teaching and learning, the CIO, the librarian, or the provost, you will need to look ahead and have a future vision in mind that your stakeholders can buy into and measure against.
You Can Do This
My parting words are that it can be done. I rolled out an enterprise media management solution at a major research university by following all of these guidelines to the best of my ability. I can tell you from experience that they will be instrumental to success, although I certainly won't tell you that the process is easy. Despite many roadblocks, the alternative — failing to achieve success — will put your institution in peril. Media management and delivery are central to a modern digital strategy. That digital strategy will help future-proof your institution for the many changes to come.
Phil Chatterton is a regional director, Canada and Western US, for the education division at Kaltura, an open-source video platform. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on LinkedIn at http://ca.linkedin.com/in/phillipchatterton.
© 2016 Phil Chatterton. This EDUCAUSE Review blog is licensed under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International.