Trends and expectations
Technology trends unfolding beyond the borders of campus increasingly shape—and raise—expectations of students, prospective students, faculty, staff and other stakeholders of the University.
Today, we expect technology services to be available at all times, at high speed, wherever we are and accessible on a multitude of platforms and devices, all synched together of course. This expectation challenges IT organizations to provide a reliable technology infrastructure and support services around the clock.
The pace of technological change is staggering, and there’s little to suggest that it will slow down. Big, complex organizations like universities struggle to adapt. Even the most adaptable organizations have a difficult time knowing what the future holds. As Apple’s Steve Jobs once said, “You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give them that. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.” To survive, IT organizations have to become more strategic, more agile and more innovative.
As technology advances, so does the volume of information we must manage. Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google, estimates that every two days, Earthlings produce as much information as was produced by all of mankind for the 20,000 years leading up to 2003. This impacts the University in many ways. Research projects generate massive amounts of data that must be transferred and stored securely. Students, faculty and staff are inundated with messages from email, social media and other electronic systems, challenging the University’s ability to communicate effectively.
The web has been the catalyst in all of this. As entrepreneur and best selling author Seth Godin points out, “the web changes everything it touches.” The web has disaggregated and disrupted the music, publishing, journalism, software and travel industries to name a few. Higher education will not be spared. Web-inspired transformations will continue to challenge centuries-old traditions of teaching and learning and the model of conferring college degrees based on time spent in a classroom.
The web has changed how we expect service to be delivered as well. Our students will become increasingly frustrated by the challenges of navigating a complex organization that operates in bureaucratic silos. Technology makes it possible to deliver services to users based on unique individual roles, desires and limitations rather than forcing users to conform in mass to organizational structures and bureaucracy. We need to focus on integrating our systems and simplifying our processes across departmental boundaries to meet students’ service expectations.