Repurposing tech to serve our college’s needs

We’re trying to build a toolbox with versatile technology tools that we can put together in various ways to create applications that offer the specific feature set we’re looking for. And we’re finding incredible value in getting multiple systems to work together to create solutions that are different from anything that could have been achieved through the individual systems themselves. It seems cliché to say that the sum is greater than its parts, but in this case, it actually is.

As a CIO, when I talk to people across our campus and learn about their needs, my initial thought is: Do we have a set of existing tools that could be put together to meet those needs? This approach requires us to look for flexible, open-architecture technology solutions that integrate easily and communicate with each other. Specifically, we’re looking for web-based software that supports application programming interfaces (APIs) and that can communicate in real time using Webhooks, or user-defined HTTP callbacks.

We also have the right people on our staff to make this approach work. Our IT staff has extensive knowledge in programming, analysis, and integration. Having them use these skills to configure existing applications to talk to each other in novel ways leverages both their skills and the rich feature sets of the application platforms we have procured.

Our approach offers a number of significant benefits. Perhaps most importantly, it enables us to maximize our investment in technology. Any time we can repurpose software that we already own or license, this allows us to stretch our original investment a little further.

But it also makes service and support easier as well. Our programming staff already knows how to integrate a tool, because we’ve done it before. And our user support staff has already provided support to other people who are using the tool. While its purpose or use might have changed, how we program and support it has not.

I see my role as encouraging my team and the college as a whole to look for versatile technology solutions that can be leveraged for different uses, so we get more value from them in the long run. Choosing flexible, adaptable solutions such as Workday and TDX has allowed us to do more with less—delivering exceptional service to students, faculty, and staff despite our budget constraints.

About the Author:

Bret Ingerman is the vice president for information technology at Tallahassee Community College in Florida.

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