Planning Priorities

The 2004 Campus Computing Survey indicates confidence in networks and online resources—and reveals new attention to non-academically oriented technologies.

Institutions surveyed in the recently released 2004 Campus Computing survey (www.campuscomputing.net) rated several technology infrastructure categories from 3.7 to 6.0, on a poor-to-high scale of 1 to 7 —indicating that despite some genuine confidence, there’s room for improvement.

The 516 institutions responding to the 2004 survey (a 64 percent response rate) told Campus Computing how well they thought they were doing in key technology areas (see figure 1). Campus networks and online resources were the highest-rated categories, perhaps a reflection of the high priority given to “instructional integration of information technology” that was revealed in the data from earlier years.

Interestingly, user support rates a high 5.5 on the scale in 2004; possibly an anomaly, or even wishful thinking, if you consider that it was one of the areas that took a big hit in recent budget struggles.

The campus portal comes in dead last; odd, given its potential impact and value to boost the perception of the institution for both constituents and visitors. The 2004 data also show that now almost 40 percent of all respondents and more than 50 percent of universities have single-sign-on portals. Clearly, portals are growing in importance. So why are they lowest in the ratings? And how do strategic plans line up against these ratings?

In the 2004 data, there is a clear shift to less emphasis on integrating technology in academic programs, than in previous years. No doubt this is not an intentional move to abandon the academic side, but a more natural effort to play catch-up in other areas. In other words, it’s all about making necessary choices with tight technology funding. One cut of the Campus Computing 2004 data provides a rough sketch of this shift in planning priorities (see figure 2).

With only 5.8 percent of respondents indicating that their institutions had no technology plan in place or underway, “Who d'esn’t?” is the phrase that comes to mind. Almost every institution has an IT plan, as they should!

But broad, sweeping plans for information technology can produce gaps or specific areas that need to be addressed. Among those now receiving attention (perhaps as a reaction to current events) are network security and disaster recovery, with 89.2 and 87.8 percent of responding institutions, respectively, either having or preparing a plan.

Other data from the 2004 survey show not only an emphasis on security, but also a strong push for ERP systems. “The survey data confirm that institutions feel compelled to invest in security and enhanced administrative information (ERP) systems,” says Campus Computing’s Casey Green. In prior years, the respondents had overwhelmingly identified “instructional integration in information technology” as their “single most important issue” for the next two to three years. It’s striking to see the bars for ERP beginning to push ahead of instructional integration in the year 2004 (see figure 3), overshadowing other concerns for public and private universities.

Strategic Plans
D'es your institution have a strategic plan for:
—Information Technology?
No 5.8
Yes 70.0
Currently Preparing 24.2
—Network Security?
No 10.8
Yes 61.7
Currently Preparing 27.5
—IT Disaster Recovery?
No 12.2
Yes 55.5
Currently Preparing 32.3
Figure 2. Percentages by campus category.

 

Again, there’s clearly a push to catch up in areas other than instructional technology. An awareness of the effects of external forces, business demands, and emerging technology is key to understanding the shifting priorities of technology planners.

Figure 1. Mean rating by campus technology infrastructure category. Scale: 1=poor; 7=excellent

 

Figure 3. Percentages, by campus type; top five issues (2004)
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