IT Forum Perspectives

Notes from the road: Implicit lessons from fall conferences

This fall, our team has enjoyed the opportunity to attend a number of conferences and hear from others about the latest trends impacting campuses and CIOs. We spent a great deal of time on the road (and in the air) meeting with CIOs and participating in conference panels, and we learned a number of valuable insights from presentations at this year’s EDUCAUSE Conference, APLU Conference, and the Indiana Statewide IT Conference. Our key takeaways were not always what the presentations were specifically designed to address, but instead flowed from a few implicit themes that emerged from these gatherings.

1. Next-generation IT staff skills

CIOs are focused on hiring staff with the right skillsets to meet the IT demands of the future. We’ve traditionally hired staff based on content knowledge and technical expertise. While these factors remain important, future IT hires will need to consist of staff with core interpersonal and relational skills, and who can proactively think and work with multiple campus partners and stakeholders. The IT staff of the future will be IT ambassadors who work with academic and administrative partners to predict, plan, and respond to campus needs—more decision maker than responder to ad hoc requests. Our colleagues at the Indiana Statewide Conference value investment in IT staff so much that they pulled staff from across the state offline for three days!

2. Data-driven collaborations

CIO collaborations with campus partners, especially with provosts and academic leaders, are on the rise—and for good reason. Provosts are increasingly dependent on IT for data to make better decisions and guide the institution’s strategy. Collaborations are essential for surfacing faculty IT needs, ensuring analytic efforts align with institutional goals, and are prioritized with student success efforts, supporting new pedagogies, enabling best-in-class research, and optimizing academic productivity. CIOs have a critical role to play in overcoming campus silos to inform campus-wide initiatives with quality data and analytics.

Recent post: 3 reasons why collaboration is critical for data-driven decision making

3. New technology hinges on successful adoption

New analytical products and services continue to generate excitement with promises of improving the campus experience. Look no further than the 307 vendors exhibiting at this year’s EDUCAUSE Conference. Yet, despite living in an era where total campus IT spend is forecasted to be in the trillions, many of these dollars will go to waste. The problem isn’t that new technologies don’t offer what they purport. Instead, campus time and resources are invested in these technologies without solid strategies for how they will be hardwired into the institution and its culture, including implementation and integration with other technologies across campus. Higher education institutions will only truly find "wins" with new technologies by strategically planning for their selection, adoption, integration, maintenance, training, and assessment across the enterprise.

Sneak peek at a topic from our next national meeting

As we noted, data-driven collaborations were a theme across CIO meetings—and it's one that EAB is well-poised to comment on. Based on research across EAB memberships for provosts, vice presidents of student affairs, and other campus executives, one of the four presentations at this year's IT Forum national meeting will be Prioritizing Data for Student Success: Right-Sizing Support and Promoting Accountability.

Download our one-pager to see a few of the themes we'll cover, then make sure to register for an upcoming meeting session to hear our research live.

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