The New Tech Consultants
- By Katherine Grayson
If you haven't sought them out yet, now's the time:
They're your peers, and they're ready to share.
About eight years ago when I
moved from covering technology
in corporate America to reporting
on its use in higher education, I was surprised
to discover that though the US
business sector relied heavily on the use
of technology consulting to meet challenges
and move companies and end
users forward, higher education did not.
The reasons for the aversion to bringing
in "outsiders" were many and, frankly,
just the idea of opening hallowed halls
to interlopers was enough, in many
instances. But at that time, much of the
reluctance centered on the notion that
colleges and universities were not businesses,
and students were not customers
or consumers. In fact, I can recall
being lambasted when, in an early editorial
for another higher education publication,
I suggested that students were
indeed customers, and predicted that
colleges would be competing for those
consumer constituents on a level previously
unimaginable. I added that understanding
the critical role of technology
would be key to that challenge. Many
college administrators were very angry
with me. Possibly, some still are.
But the fact is that for so many years,
higher ed lagged well behind corporate
America in technology use and exploitation.
For those of us coming out of the
corporate sector, this fact made us
seers: We could predict with some
accuracy what direction technology
would next take on US campuses, and
which challenges higher ed would face
as it struggled to embrace change.
Don't miss your one-on-one with
"The New Tech Consultants" at Campus Technology
Winter 2007: two-and-a-half days of fast-track, all-day
workshops in eight key technology leadership areas.
San Francisco, CA, Dec. 10-12.
Happily, much of academia has not
only "caught up" with mainstream
America but, because the youth of this
planet are now clearly driving technology
use and advancement worldwide,
many institutions of higher education
are leading tech innovation and are
recognized as the proving grounds for
new technology use. They have to be;
their constituency now arrives on campus
with that expectation.
All of this brings me back to the issue
of consultant use; to the realization that
someone may have specialized knowledge
that we do not possess but need.
And while there are indeed institutions
using tech innovation to not only function
better, but to attract greater numbers
of better qualified students, there
are more colleges and universities still
in need of solid direction and guidance.
And they need that help quickly.
The good news is that the
academic legacy of collaboration
now extends to tech
leadership: Campuses innovating
with technology are
today's best consultants for
schools everywhere and, together
with established tech consultancies,
they are eager to share what they
know. As an IT leader on your own campus,
it falls to you to seek out these "new
consultants," spend time with them, visit
their campuses, and then model and
fine-tune their exploits for your own constituency.
New students are on your
campus right now, and they are counting
on a tech-forward institution.
--Katherine Grayson, Editor-In-Chief
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