Information security strategy is EDUCAUSE‘s No. 1 IT issue for 2019, topping the list for a fourth consecutive year. The top 10 issues were previewed at EDUCAUSE 2018.

Privacy, along with the notion of the integrative CIO, make their first appearance on the list of trends and issues that are forecasted to dominate higher-ed IT leaders’ priorities in 2019.

The 10 issues fall under three general themes: the notion of the data-enabled institution; funding, including sustainable funding and higher-ed affordability; and IT as an institutional leader and change agent.

Led by Susan Grajek, vice president of communities and research for EDUCAUSE, panelists included John Campbell, vice provost at West Virginia University; Merri Lavagnino, director of strategic planning and enterprise risk at Indiana University; Loretta Early, chief information officer at the George Washington University; Joel Hartman, vice president and CIO at the University of Central Florida; and Carlos Morales, president of the TCC Connect Campus in the Tarrant County College District.

The list will be officially released in early 2019.

1. Information security strategy: Developing a risk-based security strategy that effectively detects, responds to, and prevents security threats and challenges

2. Student success: Serving as a trusted partner with other campus units to drive and achieve student success initiatives

“I believe the IT staff can do amazing things if they’re aware of this pressure on student success,” Lavagnino said. “They can identify ways the IT organization can better assist with student success initiatives.”

For instance, there will be an influx of students from disadvantaged socio-economic households, and those students typically don’t achieve degrees in the same amount of time as students from higher economic backgrounds. Data predicts large shifts in student demographics and the geographic areas producing more college students.

“Are colleges sand universities ready to address these changes? We as IT people need to bring our creativity to the table when we’re trying to address the needs of this different student body we’re going to have,” she said.

3. Privacy: Safeguarding institutional constituents’ privacy rights and maintaining accountability for protecting all types of restricted data

Institutions can keep up with privacy regulations by “providing training on best uses and highlighting best practices, and providing staff with real-world scenarios–it’s a topic that won’t go away,” Morales said.

4. Student-centered organization: Understanding and advancing technology’s role in optimizing the student experience (from applicants to alumni)

5. Digital integrations: Ensuring system interoperability, scalability, and extensibility, as well as data integrity, security, standards, and governance, across multiple applications and platforms

6. Data-enabled institution: Taking a service-based approach to data and analytics to reskill, retool, and reshape a culture to be adept at data-enabled decision-making

“Too many times, [campus] units are possessive of their data,” Campbell said. “It’s not ‘mine;’ it’s the institution’s data. How do we go about having that discussion and changing from ‘mine’ to ‘our?'”

7. Sustainable funding: Developing funding models that can maintain quality and accommodate both new needs and the growing use of IT services in an era of increasing budget constraints

8. Data management and governance: Implementing effective institutional data-governance practices and organizational structures

“Think of data as a pyramid–at the base would be institutional data, and the first step is to understand the nature, meaning, and accuracy of the data and how, in a long-term sense, it will be curated and maintained and kept usable,” Hartman said. “If you don’t have accurate data, everything will be incrementally much more difficult.”

9. Integrative CIO: Repositioning or reinforcing the role of IT leadership as an integral strategic partner of institutional leadership in achieving institutional missions

10. Higher education affordability: Aligning IT’s priorities and resources with institutional priorities and resources to achieve a sustainable future

Changing the conversation is key to helping higher-ed leaders advance higher-ed affordability, Early said. “How do we take the amount of money the university spends on IT and help the university invest that and make the dollars go furthest?” CIOs have to figure out their roles when it comes to growing revenue, mitigating risk, and optimizing cost, she added.

About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura

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