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Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Aligning for Partnership: How Enterprise IT Can Help Transform the Institutional Mission | EDUCAUSE Review

IT organizations must become strategic partners in their institutions to support and further IT's ongoing evolution.

For 2018, the EDUCAUSE Enterprise IT Program is focusing on next-generation enterprise IT,1 which is a key precursor to enabling digital transformation in higher education. 

Photo: Peshkova / Shutterstock © 2018

Digital transformation, which shifts how we manage and deliver systems and services, is part of IT's continuing evolution.2 Whereas IT's purview was once limited to delivering technologies, it has evolved to focus on delivering services. Taking this further, next-generation enterprise IT focuses on how to deliver value to the institution by closely aligning IT efforts with the institution's mission and strategy. Thus, in this new evolutionary phase, IT must adopt the role of strategic and transforming partner in the institution.

To do this, IT leaders and their organizations must develop innovative practices and create new digital architectures that give their institutions the agility and flexibility required to rapidly and efficiently achieve their strategic aims. Such a shift has implications for enterprise IT that impact the technology, the workforce, and data management. 

Here, five members of the Enterprise IT Program Advisory Committee consider digital transformation from an enterprise IT perspective and provide insights and advice on how enterprise IT leaders might respond to the challenges and the opportunities this transformation presents. Those committee members are
  • Chris Boniforti, Chief Information Officer, Lynn University
  • Josie DeBaere, Director of Technology Architecture, Boston University
  • Jay Eckles, Director of Business Intelligence, The University of Tennessee
  • Peggy Kay, Assistant Vice President, Technology Customer Experience, University of the Pacific
  • Cindy Mitchell, Chief Information Officer, Colby College
Digital transformation is a difficult concept to define. How would you describe it? DeBaere: Higher education institutions are facing major challenges resulting from demographic changes, decreasing public funding, and competition from nontraditional providers of education. Addressing those challenges requires a digital transformation — a cultural, technological, and workforce shift in which the adoption of innovative practices and architectures enables the enhancement or replacement of traditional services with digital ones that deliver more value to our communities.

Boniforti: We often confuse digital transformation with digital substitution or enhancements. I would consider the development and adoption of e-forms as an example of digital substitution, as we simply turn a paper form and its process into a PDF and eventually into a web form that populates a system or database. This is not transformational and simply replaces a process with a technical tool. An example of a digital transformation, on the other hand, would be the introduction of a technology solution that offers a completely new way of doing things that simplifies the process and adds value for the end user. In my previous example of an e-form, adding a redesign of the form process that is tied to digital workflows and automated communication tools, which may be part of a CRM solution, would offer a digital transformational experience for our users.

Eckles: To me, the important distinction is that we're talking about transformation in the way the university accomplishes its purpose through digital technology rather than a transformation in the way we use digital technology. Transformation of IT practices or systems is unto itself of no substantial value to a university. But transformation in the processes of teaching, learning, research, and service that are enabled by newly available technologies indeed has the potential to be substantive. Perhaps most important of all, the notion that transformation is enabled by technology should not imply that transformation is driven by technology; the transformation should be driven by the core mission and strategy of the institution.

Kay: Digital transformation is the integration of digital technology into all areas of an organization, resulting in fundamental changes to how organizations operate and how value is delivered to constituents. It is reimagining how we bring together people, data, processes, and technology to create value for our faculty, staff, and students. Students are entering our universities and colleges with enhanced and evolving experiences with the digital world. We in higher education need to make a more concerted effort to meet students where they are and move them forward with an understanding of the impact and influence of digital in all aspects of their lives. Mobile applications as well as new devices and delivery mechanisms are introducing and fostering new capabilities and, perhaps more importantly, new behaviors and expectations. Higher education should be in front of this movement, incorporating our core academic endeavors into modes designed for a new generation and purpose-built to deliver exceptional experiences. 
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Source: EDUCAUSE Review