What Is Enterprise IT?

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Enterprise IT includes the technology staff, services, and support associated with enterprise systems and services, as well as their strategy, management, budgets, and policy. Enterprise IT also includes many of the systems and services that colleges and universities use to store and manage data and processes, regardless of whether they are hosted on campus, in the cloud, or through shared services. It primarily has an administrative focus rather than one of academics or research. Because it deals with core organizational business activities, enterprise IT is central to the success of any higher education institution.

Management of these core organizational services goes beyond just taking care of the technology. For example, as institutions move services into the cloud, the responsibility for managing the service remains a responsibility of enterprise IT. The transition from on-premise to cloud causes IT to shift focus and concentrate on contract management, vendor relations, collaborations with functional and business units, and data integration issues.

Pinning down a definition for enterprise IT is complicated by the fact that what is considered enterprise IT may vary depending on the institution. Analytics and learning management systems are two areas that exemplify how enterprise IT services vary depending on how they are managed at an institution. End user support for these services may fall under a different area than resource management for the system.  For example, if the LMS system (hardware, platform, and application) is maintained on site, management of the resource is likely to be an enterprise IT issue, while management of user support may belong to a different function, either a separate unit within IT, a teaching and learning function outside of IT, or at the decentralized level.  Similarly, resource management for an analytics system may be an enterprise IT function, but user support for institutional decision-making may be shared across IT, institutional research, academic areas, business operations, and other functional units.

Enterprise IT also includes the resources provided by central IT that enable decentralized areas and functional units to run their own IT shops. This may include authentication and access services, contract management, or the development of policies and guidelines for use of enterprise and core IT resources.  

Enterprise IT is in a transitional stage, due partly to the increased viability and adoption of cloud technologies and services. A shift is underway from a focus on managing technologies to one on managing services. There is also a restructuring of the way IT does its work so that methodologies such as DevOps, ITSM, Lean, and project management are having an enormous impact. At the same time, institutions are developing analytics initiatives that consider enterprise systems to be strategic institutional assets. These changes create an opportunity for colleges and universities to sharpen their focus on the transition from managing technologies to managing services to managing value for the institution.

What is the EDUCAUSE Enterprise IT Program?

The Enterprise IT Program helps institutions address the challenges and opportunities associated with defining and maximizing the value of enterprise IT services to the institution. The program is developing resources that address members’ current priority themes in the area of enterprise IT, initially focusing on ways for institutions to gain efficiencies through effective sourcing strategies, business process management, and the better understanding and defining of costs, as well as how they can add strategic value through analytics and business intelligence. EDUCAUSE members will help evaluate and update these themes annually.

2016 themes:

  • Sourcing strategies. An institution’s sourcing strategy needs to be appropriate to the institution’s culture, resources, and expertise in support of the overall institutional mission and goals. Strategies should consider cloud options, shared services, outsourcing, and the use of consortia.
  • Costs, value, and cost drivers. Institutions should evaluate the costs and value of enterprise systems and services as part of the effort to maximize that value and increase efficiency.
  • Analytics and business intelligence. Enterprise systems data should be considered a strategic institutional asset. Institutions need to develop analytics strategies based on institutional strategic priorities that can meet compliance and regulatory needs, monitor progress on institutional short-term goals and long-term strategy, and contribute to institutional decision-making.
  • Business process management. Enterprise systems do not typically differentiate one college or university from another, and it is important to frame enterprise decision making with this in mind. Streamlining processes to create efficiencies may result in resources that can be reallocated to other mission critical and differentiating functions.

The EDUCAUSE Enterprise IT Program’s vision is to collaborate with members to make higher education enterprise IT informed, efficient, and strategic.

Enterprise IT themes can be found throughout these other areas of EDUCAUSE as well:

The EDUCAUSE Enterprise IT Program works closely with all of those areas to integrate our efforts and connect our themes.

Do you have suggestions for the Enterprise IT Program? We’d love to hear your thoughts or answer your questions. Send them to [email protected] or directly to the Enterprise IT Program Director, Betsy Tippens Reinitz.

© 2016 Betsy Tippens Reinitz. The text of this article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.