Peter Romness, Cybersecurity Principal for the US Public Sector CTO Office at Cisco, an EDUCAUSE Platinum Partner, gives his vision on how digital transformation is shifting higher education.
Principal for the US Public Sector CTO Office
Peter Romness: To me, digital transformation is using the full potential of modern information technology to quickly introduce new capabilities to our students and our faculty and our staff, and to save them time and money. From the perspective of an IT professional, and kind of making it a little more simple, it means taking advantage of both public and private cloud infrastructures to roll out apps faster, and make our users say, wow, in a good way. To illustrate this, let me tell you a true story that happened to me about a month ago. I was sitting on the beach on vacation, and there was a meeting going on where our Meraki folks, part of Cisco, were talking about what they were doing in the higher ed environment. And they said that students who go to visit a university on their, when they're doing their campus tours, use the wireless and the capability of the wireless on campus as a criteria for choosing which university they will go to. And if the wireless is not good, it makes it so they're much less likely to want to go to that university.
Well, I didn't believe that story to its full extent. I thought they were exaggerating. And I just happened to be sitting on the beach with my daughter who's in her second year of college and she had three friends with her. And so I asked them, "Is that true? Would you consider not going to school if they didn't have good wireless?" And all three of them, all four of them did not miss a beat on saying yes, that would be a consideration. So to me, this story illustrates several points about digital transformation. First off, look at the flexibility it gave me, gave me the ability to be sitting on the beach and attend a meeting over WebEx, that I wouldn't have attended otherwise. It also highlights how digital transformation gives colleges and universities flexibility that translates to their students and staff. And the third thing, and this is critical is that our users really care about this stuff. They see it in their every day life and they expect it. So, you know, another illustration that I saw was when we were all first forced to go and learn from home or work from home or teach from home because of COVID-19. And across Cisco, we saw that our customers who were further down the road in digital transformation, were able to make the transition much easier. And it was a much smoother transition and their users were much happier. Now, one thing that I also think about with digital transformation is that we also can use it to make our users more secure. And this doesn't matter what kind of device they're on. In fact, they can be using any device from any place. At Cisco, we've taken and applied digital transformation to all of our security products. And they are available in cloud deployment with cloud management. So you can use them in a way that is easier to deploy. And once they're deployed, it's much easier to manage. And you could really get some quick bang for your buck or time to value in a more technical way of putting it. And what all this boils down to is that when your users, and this could be faculty, staff, or students, when they want to do something, when they want to attend a meeting from a beach, like I did, you don't have to say no anymore. You can say yes. And hopefully, and most likely they will say, wow, in a good way.