[CSG Winter 2011] Higher ed from both sides now

Greg Jackson (Educause)

Collaboration – we don’t do it very well across our organization.
– We sign NDAs for No Benefit
– We let vendors pick us off
– We keep our cake (we hold on to resources we really should be sharing)

Battles – we fight those we can’t win. Prevalence will sometimes win out over quality.
– Google is going to win
– The CFO is going to win
– Verizon/AT&T/Sprint are going to win
– Oracle is going to win – not everything, but everything it cares about
We don’t engage very well if we characterize them as evil

– Being different from peers isn’t the same as being ahead of peers. No competitive advantage to how we use IT at our institutions.
– Being ahead of peers isn’t the same as winning.
– Distinctiveness yields value, but it also consumes it
– It doesn’t matter what computer you use, because standardization has largely been achieved
– When standardization fails, idiosyncrasy accelerates

Tracy notes that we’re different because our environments demand us to be.
Greg – we don’t want to aspire to mediocrity. We shouldn’t innovate in different directions just for the sake of different directions.

– We reject cost accounting
– We prefer tactics to strategies
– We send good money after bad
– We prefer right to timely
– We eat (or alienate) our seed corn
– We mistake users for customers

– We squabble (especially in public)
– We waste too much time on governance
– We spread ourselves too thinly
– We obsess


[CSG Winter 2011] Time to de-localize?

This discussion, led by Sally Jackson (Illinois), was a lot more interesting than is captured here, but I’ll share what I’ve got:

Overall tendency of IT has been to amplify the ability of faculty and students to reach across great distances, socially, politically, and physically. Our support structures have not adjusted to this reality.

de-localize – invites an association with globalization, but that’s not entirely what she had in mind.

Services from different providers, virtual teams, support for people who rely on many people other than just us.

Shel – localization is no longer necessary for personalization – it’s easy to tailor environments that aren’t provided locally.

Most of us have divided support structures – large core at the center, surrounded by a community of IT professionals attached to labs, colleges, centers. At Illinois, about a third of support staff are in the center, two-thirds in the units. That’s true of all the CIC except Indiana.

All of our end users are now wandering horizontally. Every day is a sequence of small but irritating hurdles to jump. We’d like to be able to eliminate those little irritations. Extra credentials are a real problem – at Illinois they need all new credentials to report on conversations with vendors.

Kitty – individual units have sets of services that work great within their silos, but for people who want to engage outside that silo it gets confused.

Barbara – as a faculty member she has control of her desktop, but as a member of the provost’s office she has to use the locked down image.

Bill – there’s a lot of power in the local tribes across the institution. Greg – tribes are no longer geographically defined. Even within local physical communities, people interact with those they choose, not necessarily those that are in physical proximity.

Shel – any given solution will be an aggregation of pieces from multiple providers. “Central” doesn’t mean what it used to – it’s about being dynamic.

Good support gets attached as a node in a personal network. Great support helps to build this unbounded personal network.

Can we build a curriculum for training great support staff? Add a layer of socio-technical competence to the pure tech. competence.
– Treat people equally and involve them no matter what organization they’re part of.
– Collaborative problem based learning infused into all projects and studies.
– Problems requiring virtual teams.
– Network-building activities.
– New professional career tracks focused on connector skills.

Treat each faculty member as the center of an unbounded network of social and technical resources.

Shel – there’s also a product management role, which Sally characterizes as a level of context awareness.

[CSG Winter 2011] Unified Communications Workshop – part 1.

Mike Pickett (Brown)

What is UC?

Multiple devices, platforms, time-span, products
Will affect workflow, ability to integrate with lots of devices
“UC is integration of real-time and non-real-time devices across platforms”
Brown engaged – WTC Consulting – Phil Beilman

Why care? Allows business process integration, to simplify and integrate all forms of communications to optimize business processes, reduce the response time, manage flows.

Survey Results – 2 campuses are on the way to eliminating desktop phones.
Illinois – have about 18 months to go.

Bill Clebsch – at Stanford they’re finding that people think they want the soft phone, but after two or three days of using it they find they don’t.

Iowa – deployed OCS for presence and IM across campus, and people like it. 150 people on OCS voice, paired with unified messaging. UM has been the killer app.

Greg J – 4 dimensions to communications we need to unify – voice, text (becoming one), documents, video. Many-to-many video is a big unsolved problem. We’re not going to control any of these, so moving towards understanding how to move forward with these in ways that allow people to collaborate is important.

Shel asks “can we embrace mediocrity at the institutional level, because the innovation is going to happen around us?”

Tom Barton – thinking about the global use as we extend our campuses is important.

Klara – How far do we go in supporting mobility in the hospitals?

Jim Phelps – thinking about how we migrate the store of rich streams as systems transition is important.

Ken Klingenstein – there’s a level of indirection we can provide in this space, and that is our business.

Two Expert Views:

Vern Elliot – Gartner
– cellular providers don’t take direction from universities, they take it from 16 year olds
– it’s all about the network
– Big driver – things are moving to commodity hw, TCIP-IP
– h.323 is becoming dominant
– communications are becoming integrated with apps
– sonsumerization
– on demand, cloud-based
– desk phone will have a diminishing role for at least 10 years.
– don’t get tied into a single vendor – not a good time to make a big bet if you can avoid it
– need a vision / strategy to resolve organizational issues over 3-5 years.
– cell phones are leading the convergence
– Google doesn’t have an enterprise approach yet
– MS Lync option is getting pretty impressive

WTC – Phillip Beitleman
– Reinvest in wire as you adopt a wireless strategy
– Harden the entire network – most eggs will be in this basket
– carrier neutral distributed antenna systems
– figure out actual costs across all IT services so funding can be mapped
– put together formal, structured plans across technology map and across multiple years – identify future funding strategies
– take longer planning cycles – 10 years for infrastructure
– don’t throw things away
UC doesn’t usually end up saving money in the near term because of complexity.
– rate models need to evolve to include telephony, network, and IT services
– WiMax as lost the battle – LTE will win

Directories are important.

Charlie – we only need phone numbers because of the legacy systems. If we all had SIP systems we’d use our network IDs.

Klara – voice is an immediate mode of communication (just one step down from video), and there will always be a role for it. Different population segments communicate differently, and we will have to support all of them.

Elazar – let’s move the risk of technology changes from us to the carriers.

Shel – if we endorse a solution, then we need to be the advocate for our users with that service.

Andy – people want a number as an enterprise identity. The carriers have ways to have multiple numbers on a single device – UMich is doing this in a pilot, where they put a UMich number on people’s individual cell phones.

Bill – Want some people to reach you by your institutional identity. We have three separate identities now – a network ID, an email address, and a phone number. Can we go to one? Security of research information is very important – how do we protect that? Only we can answer those questions.

Tracy – some of the reasons people don’t want to give up their devices aren’t yet supported in the new models. Where will people forgive convenience for mobility, and where not? When we think about remote locations, we need higher fidelity and bandwidth – will we find mobile ways for that?

Ken – metadata is (as always) important – where’s the metadata that says what was in that videoconference? Where’s integrated search?

Shel – we’re in a purgatory period – most voice mail just says “hi it’s me – call me.”

[CSG Winter 2011] IT Alignment, efficiency, strategy and governance, part 1

Jim Phelps is setting the stage – what does it mean to be a mature enterprise? 5 stages – Ad Hoc, Basic, Standardized, Managed, Adaptive – lower levels driven by technologies, upper levels driven by business strategiies. Adaptive is designed to pursue change and adapt quickly. Higher Ed governance structures are designed to resist change – to keep processes going through turmoil.

Why change? Not just because it’s fashionable – a lot of compelling drivers, like cost differential between cloud and on-premises services. Huge shift in how business is being conducted globally – See the article in Atlantic on The Rise of the New Global Elite, and the article in the Chronicle on European university mergers. Higher Ed has a terrible time making decisions.

Bernie takes over – asking Why Alignment so Important? Typically only about 1/3 of the total institutional IT spending is in the central IT organization. As we move into challenging days, the reaction may be to lower central administrative spending, but that may not help with IT. We need to help our institutions understand how IT works in the institution and how to rationalize.

Role of Governance – to understand leadership role in facilitation of conversations. Understand what customers are looking for, and to help lead and socialize directions. Strategically choosing governance groups is critical. Choose who will be part of which groups and what the roles are in continuous technology conversations. Often groups like to think they get to tell the central IT shop what to do, but we need to help them understand their role within the governance continuum. Looking for a shared set of strategies to move forward.

IT Strategic Planning Goal – “Identify and invest in technology projects that are transformative and provide competitive advantage…” Terry asks who is the competition? Competing with other institutions, as measured by rankings, research dollars, – but what happens when everyone’s strategy is to be in the top 3? Tracy notes that the differences are how we translate the goals into our culture and practices. Some of us are focusing on international programs, some on bridges with K-20, etc. Mike Pickett says that while the rhetoric may be the same about seeking competitive advantage, we want to make sure that IT is not perceived as a competitive disadvantage.

UMN has rolling 6 and 2 year plans, and then work on quarterly work plans, where they try to focus on the planned vs. unplanned activities. Trying to manage an IT investment portfolio and bring everybody into the conversation. Project selection criteria include the kind of project, what value it brings to the institution, and how its financed. Focused on strategic and operational priorities.

What criteria do you need to have in place to make a decision? definition, functional owndership, business case, and finance plan. Some projects are in planning and development phase where these things are not yet clearly understood. How do those get decided and resourced? Iowa says those that have strong champions get resourced. At Brown they have a committee chaired by the CFO – everything that’s over $50k or is a new service is supposed to come through that group.

Looking at Risk – Org and Tech readiness, architecture fit, definition is well understood, infrastructure compatibility. Looking for Value on Investment – look at over 5 year term. Looking to figure out how to shrink effort on non-strategic work and increase resources available for strategic initiatives. It’s an art form with a political calculus.

Joel says this is less about the org chart and more about the real relationships with people so everyone really understands their role. John from Duke notes that lemmings are perfectly aligned – sometimes you want to see a diversity of approaches, like with learning management systems where all the current answers are crummy. Sometimes you need to embrace chaos. Terry agrees that we need to consider alignment and efficiency vs. effectiveness. We don’t have that many arrows in our quiver to gain efficiencies – automation, de-duplication of services, and standardization. How do we try to live in a mode of pushing efficiencies while meeting the ever more disparate needs of our audience? Tracy says that part of the CIO’s role is to balance the gaining of efficiencies with the fact that two years from now people may have money again and will be driving towards flexibility.

Elazar – created new governance structure at UCSF – IT Steering Committee chaired by a faculty member – 5 groups under it. Everything that is substantial in university (including medical center) goes through this group.