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Informs and engages the UNB community on IT developments and news

Management Briefing - EDUCAUSE Top Ten Tech Trends 2014

Author: ITS

Posted on Jun 27, 2014

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 university management with an overview of them, along with ITS’ perspective on how the trends affect UNB. Top Ten Tech Trends 2014 1. Improving student outcomes through an institutional approach that leverages technology. ITS continues to develop the infrastructure that will enable UNB to apply technology to help our students succeed. For example, Safari OLAP, a software tool that helps users mine enterprise data, is being replaced with a new tool to significantly improve this capability. We continue to work hard to ensure university data is well managed and accessible through projects such as implementing data governance and management, building a data warehouse, and deploying software tools to help assess student progress in time for appropriate intervention when needed. 2. Establishing a partnership between IT and institutional leadership to develop a collective understanding of what IT can deliver. Groundwork for one of ITS’ most important near‐term initiatives is underway. Definitions, descriptions, and standards for our various services are being gathered and collated into a Service Catalog, which will form the foundation of a formal ITS commitment to our users across the university. The Catalog will also help the community understand exactly what the ITS unit does to support the university mission, and what metrics are used to track results. 3. Changing IT funding models to sustain core service, support innovation, and facilitate growth. 90% of equipment and software that ITS acquires with capital funding is deployed to serve the entire university community, yet ITS competes with Fredericton campus units for very limited capital resources. Maintenance of essential services such as Datatel has depended on this fragile model for many years. ITS constantly seeks to ensure it has the resources needed to meet community expectations. Disappointingly (if understandably), some units are unable to partner with ITS to provide expensive but crucial resources such as computer storage space for researchers. Sometimes, however, ITS is able to take the initiative and fund some things itself; for example, SharePoint, an enterprise‐scale collaboration environment that automates internal workflows and provides document management capabilities across the community, is currently being funded by the unit. 4. Developing an IT 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. A flexible structure built on standards and best practices is helping us respond rapidly to university needs as technology shifts. We are also working hard to develop our people through training and performance management processes. ITS has a well‐developed performance management process, and is incorporating training plans to ensure staff is equipped to succeed. 5. Using analytics to help drive 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. Foundational projects such as replacing Safari OLAP and implementing a 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. 6. Assisting faculty with the instructional integration of information technology. The UNB Mobility Resource Centre was recently opened to facilitate the transition of mobility services to UNB’s new provider, TELUS. The ongoing mission of the Centre will be to provide faculty and staff with consultation, procurement, configuration, and instruction for mobile devices including tablets, smartphones, laptops, and so on. In addition, new devices, and new combinations of devices, will be tested and deployed from the Centre, making it an innovative and transformative service. 7. Sourcing technologies and services at scale to reduce costs (via cloud, greater centralization of IT, cross‐institutional collaborations, and so forth). ITS is leading regional PSE institutions in a project that will result in seamless, centrally hosted applications and services that will be more cost effective and efficient than any single institution can operate. The first issue to be tackled head‐on is federated identity, to allow users from one institution to log into services hosted at another, without the need for separate accounts for all users. When fully implemented, this capability will form the foundation of a community cloud that users anywhere in the region will be able to enjoy. 8. 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. Furthermore, we continue to deploy tools to enhance online access to IT resources and services; in particular, we have virtualized software applications that students used to have to own and install on their own devices, or come to a computing lab on the campuses to access. Virtual applications are available for use anywhere, anytime—for distance students especially, this is a tremendous advantage. 9. Identifying and optimizing new models and business processes (such as rebalancing central vs. decentralized IT services) to reduce complexity and improve operational efficiency. ITS puts a lot of effort into ensuring our IT partners at UNB (including the Level 1 support community in Fredericton and ISS colleagues in Saint John) are involved in or kept up to date on the latest projects and initiatives that affect them, such as VOIP, virtualization, cloud services, storage and backups, upgrades to anti‐virus software, new devices, mobility services, and many others. 10. Competing for IT talent when higher education compensation is lower than market rates. A robust local market for IT professionals means ITS experiences more turnover than almost any other unit. With a well‐earned reputation for leadership, experience, and quality, ITS produces highly soughtafter employees who can command higher salaries and benefits outside of the university than they are able to obtain within it. The considerable benefits of working at the university go only so far in retaining such valuable employees.

June 27, 2014, Terry Nikkel, AVP, ITS