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Issue #5: Integrating Information Technology into Institutional Decision-Making

At many institutions, information technology is not sufficiently integrated into the senior administration leadership structure to enable the institution to fully embrace and benefit from technology's strategic advantages. As soon as some people talk about technology, they may put it in a box, viewing information technology as only an enabling function and not recognizing its broader, pervasive nature.

The ability to know when information technology is essential to strategic decision-making requires that an institution determine what it wants from technology. The costs and benefits of investing in technology resources weigh differently depending on whether technology is expected to function as merely a utility or is intended to operationalize institutional strategy and transformative change.

"My dream is that someday the word ‘technology’ disappears from the discussion as it is represented today and, instead, there is simply a discussion about delivering services that make a difference."
—Rebecca Gray, Executive Director and CIO, Information Technology Services, Tarleton State

Strategic Questions for Integrating information technology into institutional decision-making:

  • Does the IT leadership understand the institution's strategic goals and business requirements?
  • Do the goals of the IT organization align with the institution's strategic goals?
  • Can IT leadership articulate a supportive IT strategy? How can CIOs transform sidebar discussions about "technology" into a discussion about the tools, capabilities, and services that an institution needs in order to be successful?
  • Do IT leaders possess the communications, strategic thinking, and negotiation skills to interact effectively with the senior administration? If not, what is their professional-development strategy?
  • How can IT leaders move a discussion about "technology" to a discussion about initiatives, strategic goals, and projects and, as part of the conversation and planning, consider all of the requirements—for example, funding, staffing, tools, timelines, training, and recurring investment?
  • Does the entire IT organization understand the nature of the many "businesses" at the institution well enough to be able to understand and articulate how technology can support and advance goals?
______________________

I think issue #5 is closely related to the governance issue #10.

But a good starting point is the first question that looks inward to the IT organization:  Does the IT leadership understand the institution's strategic goals and business requirements?

As a CIO, how do you learn about your institution's goals?  Do you have an opportunity to contribute to goals, or do you receive the goals and try to align IT to the goals? 


--
Theresa Rowe
Chief Information Officer
Oakland University
 
********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.

Comments



By way of background information, the national recent surveys of more than 1000 presidents and almost 1100 provosts conducted by INSIDE HIGHER ED and Campus Computing reveal that about a third of college presidents (36 percent) and provosts (31 percent) report that their institutions do a "very effective" job of using data to aid and inform campus decision-making.  What may be most interesting about these data (a) are the consistency in these assessments within (and often across) sectors (almost equal proportions of presidents and provosts within sectors offer similarly low ratings) and (b) that for-profit presidents and provosts rate their sector higher than their peers public and private, non-propfit institutions (but the numbers for for-profits are not that much higher — less than 60 percent).




The full library of these survey reports is available at INSIDE HIGHER ED.   Also of potential interest: 
 (Not) Using Data for Decisions (DigitalTweed/InsideHigher Ed, 25 Jan 2012)

Casey Green
The Campus Computing Project

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
 Kenneth C. Green   818.990.2212
 The Campus Computing Project®
 www.campuscomputing.net
 cgreen@campuscomputing.net
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=


From: Theresa M Rowe <rowe@OAKLAND.EDU>
Reply-To: EDUCAUSE Listserv <CIO@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU>
Date: Monday, July 23, 2012 10:43 AM
To: EDUCAUSE Listserv <CIO@LISTSERV.EDUCAUSE.EDU>
Subject: [CIO] Topic 5 - Integrating Information Technology into Institutional Decision-Making

Issue #5: Integrating Information Technology into Institutional Decision-Making

At many institutions, information technology is not sufficiently integrated into the senior administration leadership structure to enable the institution to fully embrace and benefit from technology's strategic advantages. As soon as some people talk about technology, they may put it in a box, viewing information technology as only an enabling function and not recognizing its broader, pervasive nature.

The ability to know when information technology is essential to strategic decision-making requires that an institution determine what it wants from technology. The costs and benefits of investing in technology resources weigh differently depending on whether technology is expected to function as merely a utility or is intended to operationalize institutional strategy and transformative change.

"My dream is that someday the word ‘technology’ disappears from the discussion as it is represented today and, instead, there is simply a discussion about delivering services that make a difference."
—Rebecca Gray, Executive Director and CIO, Information Technology Services, Tarleton State

Strategic Questions for Integrating information technology into institutional decision-making:

  • Does the IT leadership understand the institution's strategic goals and business requirements?
  • Do the goals of the IT organization align with the institution's strategic goals?
  • Can IT leadership articulate a supportive IT strategy? How can CIOs transform sidebar discussions about "technology" into a discussion about the tools, capabilities, and services that an institution needs in order to be successful?
  • Do IT leaders possess the communications, strategic thinking, and negotiation skills to interact effectively with the senior administration? If not, what is their professional-development strategy?
  • How can IT leaders move a discussion about "technology" to a discussion about initiatives, strategic goals, and projects and, as part of the conversation and planning, consider all of the requirements—for example, funding, staffing, tools, timelines, training, and recurring investment?
  • Does the entire IT organization understand the nature of the many "businesses" at the institution well enough to be able to understand and articulate how technology can support and advance goals?
______________________

I think issue #5 is closely related to the governance issue #10.

But a good starting point is the first question that looks inward to the IT organization:  Does the IT leadership understand the institution's strategic goals and business requirements?

As a CIO, how do you learn about your institution's goals?  Do you have an opportunity to contribute to goals, or do you receive the goals and try to align IT to the goals? 


--
Theresa Rowe
Chief Information Officer
Oakland University
 
********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.

********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.

One way we approached this recently was to engage people from across the University to jointly produce a series of strategic plan recommendations and proposed operational objectives that were embedded within the strategic imperatives for the overall institution and then used (in part) to inform decisions about how best to allocate resources.  We focused recommendations and proposals on 5 primary areas in order to keep things anchored in a non-technical context:
 
1.  Cultivation of Academic Programs of Distinction
2.  Enrollment Growth and Student Success
3.  Development and Application of Know-how
4.  Alliances for Institutional Advancement and Educational Partnerships
5.  Development and Stewardship of Institutional and Environmental Resources
 
Focusing on the above helped us all maintain a shared understanding of institution's strategic goals and business requirements.  The overriding objective was then to identify the most feasible applications of technology, uses of information systems and provision of services that could be used to improve things in one or more of these areas.  Rather than produce a separate IT strategic plan these initiatives could be embedded or could "plug-in" to one or more programmatic initiatives at more of an institutional level.
 
The approach was successful in that it provoked (in a good way) responses to several unmet and anticipated needs on a few different levels.  Some important things are getting accomplished as a result.  Priorities are set by putting initiatives through a "filter" to determine feasibility based on impact, support, resources and funding.  And we can articulate the impact in non-technical terms.
 
But there is another level to which all this could be taken in terms of integrating, or perhaps instigating (in a productive way), institutional decision making that transforms academic programs, university operations and/or student services in some major way.  One way might be to consider specific transformative capabilities of information systems (as opposed to "technology") into the decision making process.   For example:
 
*  Scope, Scale and Speed (from Integration, Automation, Disintermediation...)
*  Foresight and Insight (from Forecasting, Assessment, Decision Making...)
*  Planning and Coordination (from Communications, Access, Facilitation...)
*  Generating New Sources of Value (from New or Enhanced Products, Services, Markets, Relationships...)
 
Some of the above might yield efficiencies.  Some might generate additional revenue.  Some might improve learning outcomes.  Some might accomplish all three...
 
This whole topic is very interesting because the dynamic between organizational design (roles, relationships, responsibilities...), politics (control, access, knowledge...) and culture (values, norms, beliefs...) either constrains or facilitates the kind of transformative planning and coordination that involves (rather than informs) "technologists".  Sometimes I wonder if "IT Governance" helps or hinders more of our involvement in transformational decision making at the institutional level. 
 
 
-P
 

Patrick Laughran | Chief Information Officer | Information Technology Services | 508/626-4048 w 508/626-4947 (fax) | Framingham State University | 100 State Street w PO Box 9101 w Framingham, MA  01701-9101  <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

 
I really like your hype cycle approach Jack!  It is so much more encouraging than most of what we hear about the future of the CIO role.  I'm going to fix my sights on the Plateau of Productivity!

- David

Deputy CIO David Stack, Ph.D.
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
david@uwm.edu


On Jul 28, 2012, at 11:21 AM, Jack Suess wrote:

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