EDUCAUSE’s 10 higher-ed IT issues in 2015

“We are seeing the gap widening between the forward-thinking early adopters and the growing number of institutions that cannot keep up with the pace of change. More and more institutions are falling behind when it comes to implementing and leveraging technology to solve large-scale problems and address strategic issues, like using cloud technologies to standardize business processes on campus and analytics to predict and address student outcomes,” said Susan Grajek, vice president of data, research, and analytics at EDUCAUSE, in a press release.

IT leaders are still debating which technologies they want to implement at their institutions, however, with just four of the 107 technologies in the report being in place in more than 30 percent of institutions.

The report outlines the issues and offers recommendations to help campus IT leaders meet those challenges.

The top 10 issues facing higher-ed IT staff, as described by Grajek and the 2014–2015 EDUCAUSE IT Issues Panel, are:

1. Hiring and retaining qualified staff, and updating the knowledge and skills of existing technology staff

2. Optimizing the use of technology in teaching and learning in collaboration with academic leadership, including understanding the appropriate level of technology to use

3. Developing IT funding models that sustain core service, support innovation, and facilitate growth

4. Improving student outcomes through an institutional approach that strategically leverages technology

5. Demonstrating the business value of information technology and how technology and the IT organization can help the institution achieve its goals

6. Increasing the IT organization’s capacity for managing change, despite differing community needs, priorities, and abilities

7. Providing user support in the new normal—mobile, online education, cloud, and BYOD environments

8. Developing mobile, cloud, and digital security policies that work for most of the institutional community

9. Developing an enterprise IT architecture that can respond to changing conditions and new opportunities

10. Balancing agility, openness, and security

These IT challenges are organized into three focus areas. Challenges at an inflection points include numbers 1, 6, 9, and 10. Challenges organized under a “from technical to business” focus area, characterized by IT leaders and professional shifting their focus from technical problems to business problems, include numbers 2, 3, 4, and 5. The third focus area highlights how change has become the “new normal” for IT leaders, and includes challenges 7 and 8.

Read more about each challenge, including recommendations to meet those challenges, here.

In late January, EDUCAUSE will publish its annual top 10 strategic technologies report, which identifies relatively new technologies that institutions will be spending the most time implementing, planning, and tracking in 2015.

Many of 2015’s strategic technologies are related to mobile computing, with some technologies from 2014, such as course-level learning analytics, dropping down the list and out of the top 10.

The 2015 top 10 strategic technologies, which will be detailed in a forthcoming report, are:
1. BI/reporting dashboards
2. Mobile app development such as HTML5 and responsive design
3. Mobile apps for enterprise applications
4. Administrative/business performance analytics
5. 802.11ac wireless networking standard
6. Enterprise identity and access management solutions
7. Incorporation of mobile devices in teaching and learning
8. Mobile data protection
9. Unified communications and collaboration
10. Mobile apps for teaching and learning

Laura Ascione