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Educause Report Identifies Top Ten IT Issues in Higher Education

Updating IT professionals' skills and roles to suit new technologies and evolving IT management and service delivery models is the number one IT issue facing today's colleges and universities, according to a recent Educause report. The report, first published in June and presented last week in a webcast hosted by Educause, analyzed the top ten IT issues, as identified by a research panel of 19 member institutions from across the country.

"Information technology's changing the way it delivers and manages technology services and the IT staff must adapt accordingly," said Susan Grajek, research vice president at Educause, during the webcast. Ideally, IT staff should be able to review and negotiate contracts, conduct security reviews, and evaluate products and vendors. Also important are skills associated with analytics, process redesign, and the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL).

Coming in second this year was the need to support "the trends toward IT consumerization and bring-your-own-device (BYOD)." Students, faculty, and staff arrive on campus with their devices pre-configured to suit their work and personal needs. Institutions must be able to support these users while still ensuring the security of its data and intellectual property. Among the questions that the report suggests institutions should ask as they head in this direction include:

  • How does an institution define consumerization of information technology? What devices, operating systems, applications, and services fall under this umbrella?
  • How does IT consumerization affect the IT organization's support strategy—for example, help desks? When is a problem the institution's responsibility, and when is it the user's responsibility?
  • What policies around security and provisioning should institutions change or adopt?

The third most pressing IT issue identified by the panel was "developing an institution-wide cloud strategy." The report acknowledges that the term "cloud" is commonly used to refer to both on-premise and cloud-only services. Given this, colleges and universities should not build their strategies around technologies but rather "on issues such as architecture, business models and requirements, procurement and contract management, contingency planning, security, privacy, and compliance." Furthermore, the report notes, IT departments will need to prove the value of services that remain hosted on campus, as new cloud models emerge. And for new cloud-only services, Grajek said, institutions will need a policies that define how to "to evaluate, select, manage risk and manage vendors."

The "Top Ten IT Issues" report is published annually by Educause. The 2012 report is the first report to be produced by Educause's new IT Issues Panel, a research board comprised of IT leaders from 19 member institutions throughout the United States. The full report is available at Educause's Web site.

About the Author

Kanoe Namahoe is online editor for 1105 Media's Education Group. She can be reached at knamahoe@1105media.com.

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