Preparing the Institution for Next Generation Enterprise IT

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Each year the Enterprise IT Program selects a lens through which to view enterprise IT challenges. In 2018 we're looking at next generation enterprise IT and how IT leaders can position their institutions to take advantage of this enterprise IT approach.

footprints in the form of hard drive circuitry
Credit: TrifonenkoIvan / Shutterstock © 2018

Each year the Enterprise IT Program selects a lens through which we examine the enterprise IT themes of sourcing strategies, cost and value of enterprise IT, business process management, and analytics and business intelligence. In 2016 we looked at the impact of cloud services on higher education enterprise IT, including the need to develop more-flexible sourcing strategies, adjust IT budgets, and improve communication. In 2017 we considered integrations and partnerships. We investigated issues around data integration across the increasing complexity of IT systems, and we looked at ways IT can integrate with the rest of the institution through partnerships and cross-enterprise efforts. Visit the Enterprise IT Program webpage to find resources associated with those challenges and more.

In 2018 we turn our attention to next generation enterprise IT. From a technology perspective, next generation enterprise IT is characterized by a movement away from siloed, transactional systems and toward the adoption of a larger set of systems, usually from multiple vendors, each providing a different critical service to the institution. The result is a complex ecosystem of applications, architectures, and sourcing strategies. This approach uses a philosophy of closer alignment of institutional and IT strategy and goals to manage that ecosystem, and it requires a shift in IT role from technology provider to service provider. In this evolving environment, IT becomes mission-centric and client focused, positioning the institution to integrate digital technology into all areas of the institution in a way that increases value across all aspects of the higher education mission.

In this year we will also add a fifth theme to the Enterprise IT list — that of technology strategy. The strategy required for successful enterprise IT technology is shifting due to the changes brought about by the next generation enterprise approach. The IT environment now includes a mix of cloud and on-premise services, all generating and using data that are critical to daily institutional operations and long-term decision-making capabilities. Managing that hybrid environment and being sure data are managed and integrated properly is the foundation of next generation enterprise IT. We'll be looking at how institutional leaders can develop an enterprise technology strategy that enables a next generation approach.

Enterprise IT is expensive, and it's not always easy to articulate the value these systems bring to the institutional mission and goals. The system migrations characteristic of a move to next generation enterprise IT present an opportunity for IT leaders to communicate more clearly with their institutions about the costs and value of enterprise services by describing the value in ways that show the connection to specific institutional goals. We will put together resources to help meet that challenge of defining value in enterprise IT.

Our sourcing strategies theme will consider the shifting role of IT. With the booming prevalence of cloud services and the increasing availability of niche solutions, IT needs to act as a partner and broker for technology services and solutions instead of simply a technology provider and supporter. We will examine this shift in role for IT and consider the relationship between the mission-focused, client-centric philosophy of enterprise IT and IT's role in institution-wide sourcing strategies and decisions.

In 2017 we looked at ways to optimize business processes and the importance of working in partnership across the institution for business process change. A business process redesign effort needs to be monitored and maintained if it's going to have long-term success, though. So this year we'll consider the ongoing change-management practices required to ensure success for business process redesign efforts in the next generation environment.

Finally, we'll turn our attention to analytics and business intelligence, with a look at personalization and how institutions are beginning to use data from multiple sources and systems to provide hyper-personalized experiences for students.

As enterprise IT evolves into its next generation, enterprise IT strategy needs to evolve along with it. Throughout the year, the Enterprise IT Program will provide new resources in the form of case studies, blogs, and working-group reports that help institutions understand and manage the challenges and opportunities of the program's themes. In addition, the program's web pages will provide links to a curated selection of relevant existing materials from the EDUCAUSE library, other EDUCAUSE program areas, and partner associations such as the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO), the Association for Institutional Research (AIR), and the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO).

If you have a story to tell about your own institution's work in the area of next generation enterprise IT, or if you have suggestions or questions about the program, please contact Betsy Tippens Reinitz at [email protected].

Betsy Tippens Reinitz is Director of the Enterprise IT Program at EDUCAUSE.

© 2018 Betsy Tippens Reinitz. The text of this work is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License.