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Informs and engages the UNB community on IT developments and news

Management Briefing - EDUCAUSE Top Ten IT Issues 2016

Author: ITS

Posted on Feb 26, 2016

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 annually 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, plus our responses to them. Top Ten IT Issues 2016 1. Information security. ITS has embarked on a multi-year review and upgrade of the university’s data network, with the objective of enhancing security while maintaining flexibility and convenience for our thousands of users. The network is unique in that it is expected to be open yet secure, fast but cheap, reliable and stable, and of course available 24/7. Business and government networks don’t face all these expectations—they are as ‘locked down’ as they need to be, and are highly controlled environments. ITS understands the network needs of the UNB community, and works hard to ensure those needs are met. This project includes re-design of internal special networks, and applies additional security monitoring tools to protect our information and infrastructure assets. An information security policy, now under review, will help the entire UNB community understand the various roles and responsibilities related to information security, and the role individuals have to play in IT security. 2. Optimizing educational technology. ITS is working to introduce cloud-based services for staff and faculty, including the collaboration suite of products encompassing Exchange for email and calendaring, SharePoint for web-based file storage, work spaces and repositories, and Skype for Business, for chat, voice, and video communications. Collectively known as Office365, the suite will work with and support the student cloud-hosted environment; this convergence will make it easier than ever for collaboration to occur across the university. Tools like Skype for Business will also complement existing tools by providing convenient video-chat connectivity enabled through easy setup and configuration. 3. Student success technologies. ITS continues to develop the infrastructure enabling UNB to apply technology to help our students succeed. Office365 gives all students ample file storage and collaboration tools, and entitles them to free Microsoft Office on up to 5 devices. This tremendous advantage not only saves students money, but helps ITS reduce costs of enterprise data storage and backups. Building on this success, we are also updating and upgrading our mobile apps, while enhancing the features and functionality of the myUNB web portal. 4. IT workforce hiring and retention. 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 identify and track individual training needs. 5. Institutional data management. A new data governance and management framework has been adopted by the university, and focused attention is now being applied to ensuring data is better managed, classified, secured, stored, and deleted. This is a significant, positive step for UNB; never before has there been such widespread, collaborative effort to come to grips with the many issues surrounding data maintenance and protection. 6. IT funding models. 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. For the 15-16 and 16-17 budget years one-time funding has been allocated to address budget shortfalls, but as each year passes the problem compounds; ultimately the current model is unsustainable. Although ITS has been successful in securing commitment to ongoing core capital funding, aligning with similar commitments to the CETL and Facilities Management units, unfortunately we still self-fund key strategic projects like the re-architecture of the communications network and IT security. 7. BI and analytics. A program to rebuild and revitalize Colleague, UNB’s main administrative and student database, is underway. Comprised of several separate projects, this initiative will deploy the latest tools and technologies to support UNB’s growing data requirements, including insight into current trends and activities in financial, student, advancement and HR areas; easy compilation of historical patterns and future projections; data analytics; and self-serve functionality never seen before at UNB. Though it will take years to complete, the Colleague program of projects will deliver exceptional value by fully developing UNB’s vast data assets. 8. Enterprise application integrations. Did you know data from Colleague (UNB’s primary application for storage and use of financial, HR, student, advancement, and other information) is exported/imported/accessed/used by over 35 other applications? From phone bills to student records to room booking, data from the central system is distributed hither and yon efficiently, promptly, and securely. ITS puts a lot of effort into ensuring this vast array of services and resources is well designed, readily accessible, and appropriately managed. Initiatives are underway to bring the Colleague system—which has been in production at UNB for nearly 20 years—up to current standards (see previous section). Enterprise data will be easier than ever to access, and will be usable in more applications than ever. 9. IT organizational development. ITS is organized as a matrix, with staff filling multiple roles as need dictates. In recent years we’ve grown our expertise in project management, business analysis, IT architecture, IT governance and management, and strategic planning and execution. The performance management and professional development framework ITS implemented helps individual employees succeed in their jobs while ensuring the university is getting the most from its IT investment. The result is a flexible organization that responds quickly to ubiquitous and evolving technologies, while helping the broader UNB community cope with rapid IT change. 10. E-learning and online education. ITS plays a crucial role in ensuring UNB and all other public higher-ed institutions in the region have access to robust, reliable, and secure networks supporting ever-increasing levels of online education. ITS is the operator of the New Brunswick portion of the national research and education network (led by CANARIE, a federally funded organization that ensures national and international education and research connectivity). We also provide high-speed, high-capacity connections to the global internet, ensuring our communities of students, faculty and staff have instant access wherever and whenever needed, on any and all of their devices. No other unit even remotely supplies this quality and quantity of service, all at an attractive price.

February 26, 2016, Terry Nikkel, AVP, ITS