Informs and engages the UNB community on IT developments and news

Management Briefing - EDUCAUSE Top Ten IT Issues 2015

Author: ITS

Posted on Feb 18, 2015

Category: Management Briefings


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 issues, 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 issues affect UNB.

Top Ten Tech Trends 2015

1. Hiring and retaining qualified staff, and updating the knowledge and skills of existing technology staff. 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 sought-after employees who can command higher salaries and benefits outside of the university than they are able to obtain within it. To assist retention, and to ensure our staff keep their skills and knowledge up to date, ITS invests heavily in training, and has a well-developed performance management process to track and identify individual training needs.

2. Optimizing the use of technology in teaching and learning in collaboration with academic leadership, including understanding the appropriate level of technology to use. ITS is preparing to launch the next phase of ConnectED for staff and faculty, the collaboration suite of products including Exchange for email and calendaring (launched), SharePoint for internal web-based work spaces and repositories (in development), and Lync, for chat, voice, and video communications. Many of the features of ConnectED will work with and complement the student cloud-hosted environment; this convergence will make it easier than ever for collaboration to occur across the university. ConnectED tools like Lync won’t replace infrastructure such as high-end classroom or campus video conferencing services, but will complement them with convenient video-chat connectivity and easy setup and configuration.

3. Developing IT funding models that sustain core service, support innovation, and facilitate growth. In its latest budget planning process ITS focused on the sustainability of current funding models, given recent years of experience dealing with inflation and currency fluctuations, particularly affecting enterprise software licenses, without corresponding increases to base budgets. ITS also competes with all other units for capital funding, in our case for essential hardware on which we run administrative, student, and research systems and services. ITS does not have an ongoing capital component in its budget, making it difficult to plan upgrades and renewal of critical IT infrastructure.

4. Improving student outcomes through an institutional approach that leverages technology. ITS continues to develop the infrastructure enabling UNB to apply technology to help our students succeed. We’ve deployed Office 365 which gives all students ample file storage and collaboration tools, and entitles them to free downloads of Microsoft Office on up to 5 devices. This tremendous advantage not only save students money, but helps ITS reduce costs of enterprise data storage and backups.

5. Demonstrating the business value of information technology and how technology and the IT organization can help the institution achieve its goals. Extending VOIP to Saint John and the transition to a new mobility vendor are only the most recent examples of ITS business acumen. VOIP essentially cuts the cost of traditional phone services in half, while ensuring UNB’s IT infrastructure including networks is state-of-the-art. Moving to a new mobility service provider (TELUS) decreased mobile device costs by 40%, while providing exceptional benefits such as nationwide calling and texting, pooled data plans, and, by eliminating individual contracts for each device, creating enormous flexibility for users and the university alike.

6. Increasing the IT organization’s capacity for managing change, despite differing community needs, priorities, and abilities. Over the last 5 years ITS implemented the Enterprise IT Framework, encompassing IT governance, portfolio management, project management, and quality assurance and process management. The IT organization has become a leaner, more agile unit that incorporates industry standards into all its planning and processes; our focus on developing strategic goals and objectives to support the university’s mission has paid off by minimizing the impact of technological change, while ensuring we are doing the right things, at the right time.

7. Providing user support in the new normal—mobile, online education, cloud, and BYOD environments. The UNB Mobility Resource Centre was opened in 2014 to facilitate the transition of mobility services to UNB’s new provider, TELUS. The ongoing mission of the Centre is 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, are tested and deployed from the Centre, making it an innovative and transformative service.

8. Developing mobile, cloud, and digital security policies that work for most of the institutional community. ITS is leading the development of UNB’s first Information Security Policy, now in early draft form. This policy will guide the UNB community on how information resources and assets should be protected, and includes a comprehensive data classification system. The classification is important and useful in many areas, particularly when units working with outside organizations need guidance and direction on what data can be exchanged. Another policy, Mobility and Home Internet Reimbursement, is in late stages of development, and will be enacted soon. Co-developed by ITS and Financial Services, this policy aims to provide direction and guidance on the selection, acquisition, procurement, protection, and deployment of mobile devices, as well as clarifying home internet reimbursement rules. Finally, ITS has adopted the Cloud Security Alliance of Canada’s STAR assessment standard for evaluating cloud service providers for meeting security, privacy, and technology requirements.

9. Developing an enterprise IT architecture that can respond to changing conditions and new opportunities. ITS has undergone substantial reorganization in the last couple of years, leading to creation of several IT architecture roles. A new Director of IT Architecture leads development of the practice of IT architecture, while several architects function in selected areas including systems, services, data, networks, websites, and graphic design. As the title suggests, IT architects incorporate standards and best practices to design various systems and services, before handing them off to operational units for implementation and maintenance.

10. Balancing agility, openness, and security. ITS has embarked on a multi-year review and upgrade of the entire Fredericton campus data network, with the objective of enhancing security while maintaining flexibility and convenience for our thousands of users. The university network is unique in that it is expected to be open yet secure; fast yet cheap; reliable yet available 24/7. Business and government networks don’t have such expectations—they are as ‘locked down’ as they need to be, and are highly controlled environments. ITS understands the needs of the UNB community, and ensures the network meets those needs. This project will include re-design of internal special networks, and will apply additional security monitoring tools to protect our information and infrastructure assets.

February 16, 2015, Terry Nikkel, AVP, ITS