Informs and engages the UNB community on IT developments and news

Management Briefing - EDUCAUSE Top Ten Tech Trends 2013

Author: ITS

Posted on Jun 7, 2013

Category: Management Briefings

Background EDUCAUSE is an international organization devoted to research and support of technology in higher education. For many years an expert panel of CIOs, researchers, and industry leaders has been convened by EDUCAUSE to examine technology trends, and to come up with a list of ten that have emerged as important to a very broad range of higher‐ed users and practitioners. ITS monitors the annual list, and provides senior management with an overview of them, along with ITS’ response to them. This year, I am providing the list and analysis to this wider audience; a lot of the trends affect all us, and ITS is committed to doing everything it can to ensure UNB is not only keeping up with the trends, but continues to be a technology leader in our region and across the country. Top Ten Tech Trends 2013 1. Leveraging the wireless and device explosion on campus. You may recall from an earlier briefing that ITS is currently replacing the entire wireless networking infrastructure on both campuses to triple capacity while enhancing network speed. The project will be complete later this year, and will be expanded to selected outdoor areas next year. The mobility strategy (approved by UMC in December) is being implemented now, and ITS will continue to launch new mobility services and apps throughout the coming months. 2. Improving student outcomes through an approach that leverages technology. ITS continues to develop the infrastructure that will enable UNB to apply technology to help our students succeed. For example, we are working hard to ensure university data is well managed and accessible through projects such as implementing data and information governance, building a data warehouse, and deploying the software tools that will help assess student progress in time for appropriate intervention when needed. 3. Developing an institution‐wide cloud strategy to help the institution select the right sourcing and solution strategies. UNB has certainly undertaken some very important cloud‐based initiatives of late, most notably the migration of student, alumni, and retiree email and file sharing services to the Microsoft Office365 cloud service. We’ve also outsourced hosting of our Desire2Learn system to the vendor—ITS keeps the network up and running to provide 24/7 access. Other applications have been sourced to the cloud, but an overall cloud strategy has not yet been defined for UNB. ITS will be leading an initiative to do this in the near future. 4. Develop a staffing and organizational model to accommodate the changing IT environment and facilitate openness and agility. ITS has undergone significant organizational change in recent years in direct response to changing IT requirements. We are building a more flexible structure that will be able to respond rapidly as technology shifts. We are also working hard to develop our people through training and performance management processes. 5. Facilitating a better understanding of information security and finding appropriate balance between infrastructure openness and security. ITS launched an online IT security awareness course earlier this year that has been completed by over 500 students, faculty, and staff. The course is modular, meaning users can absorb it in chunks devoted to specific topics such as phishing and password strength. ITS has also created the Security Action Team, which oversees IT security and creates the policies, standards, and best practices necessary for UNB to function securely yet openly. 6. Funding information technology strategically. Thanks to a clearly articulated strategic plan, ITS is able to plan for technology needs well in advance, and has had success in leveraging resources for strategic projects. Not all needs have been met, but with a great deal of planning and creativity, the university is will served by its key IT infrastructure assets such as the robust network, VOIP, and incorporation of new applications to make everyone more productive—for example, Novell is almost a relic of the past (it will completely disappear this summer), while the new connectEd environment is being enhanced with state‐of‐the‐art tools such as SharePoint for collaboration and Lync for better internal communication 7. Determining the role of online learning and developing a sustainable strategy for that role. ITS is an active partner in university‐wide initiatives such as the President’s Committee on Disruptive Technology and the UNB/AUNBT Joint Committee on the Impact of Technology. We continue to deploy tools to enhance online access to IT resources and services; in particular, we are virtualizing software applications that students currently must own and install on their own devices, or come to a computing lab on the campuses to access. This will all change soon, as virtual desktops and applications become available for use anywhere, anytime. For distance students especially, this will be a tremendous advantage. 8. Supporting the trends toward IT consumerization and bring‐your‐own device. ITS monitors and analyzes device usage on our campuses very carefully to ensure we are supporting them effectively. For example, recent data shows that 84% of students have a smartphone, while 66% of staff and faculty own one and bring it to work. Growth in device usage is about 100% per year; the trend shows no signs of slowing down. Furthermore, most users bringing devices to the campuses are connecting them to the wireless network. The mobility strategy has helped ITS define the support model for these devices, while recent investments in our internal networks and external connections via the Internet and the national research and education network have dramatically improved overall performance and network availability. Finally, all of the university’s websites are being updated to be completely usable on any mobile device; the new ‘responsive’ design will be launched this summer. 9. Transforming the institution’s business with information technology. To inform its current strategic plan, ITS has recently undertaken assessments of various aspects of our services and infrastructure, resulting in a plan that is fully aligned with the UNB strategic plan. We have engaged our users in detailed discussions of their needs and perceptions of IT services, and have responded with initiatives ranging from upgraded infrastructure to deployment of more staff to the front lines of service. We renewed the enterprise web strategy, and articulated the mobility strategy. At the same time, we have led development of a university‐wide data governance and management framework that will apply technology to solving many of the data‐related problems staff and faculty face every day. 10. Using analytics to support critical institutional outcomes. The EDUCAUSE working definition of analytics is "the use of data, statistical analysis, and explanatory and predictive models to gain insights and act on complex issues." ITS supports current analysis with tools and expertise, but we can and will do more as the data governance initiative matures. Fundamental projects such as the data warehouse will place UNB in a much better position to analyze, understand, and act upon its data assets; better student outcomes, more control over budgets, and an informed community are only a few of the benefits the university will achieve.

June 7, 2013 ‐ Terry Nikkel, AVP, ITS