Definition of Higher Education Enterprise IT

Defining enterprise IT in higher education and the focus of the Enterprise IT Program.

Enterprise IT is a large, complex, and multifaceted function at colleges and universities. Although the scope may vary by institution, it typically includes the technology staff, services, and support for enterprise-wide systems, as well as their strategy, management, budgets, and policy. It primarily serves an institution-wide function and typically uses a holistic approach for strategy development that keeps the overall institutional mission and strategy in mind.

Enterprise IT can be considered an ecosystem made up of the systems and services that colleges and universities use to store and manage data and processes, regardless of whether they are hosted on campus, in the cloud, or through shared services. If a system with data that needs to connect to other systems with data, then enterprise IT is probably involved.

Management of these core organizational services involves far more than simply taking care of the technology. As institutions move services to the cloud, managing the service usually remains a responsibility of enterprise IT. This transition requires IT to cultivate new skill sets and functions, including contract management, vendor relations, deeper collaborations with functional and business units, and data-integration efforts.

This evolution in technology management means that enterprise IT has the opportunity to be a strategic partner in the institution, going beyond the delivery of technologies and services to the integration of technology throughout all aspects of the institution's mission, adding value in direct relationship to the institution's goals. A focus on the value that technology brings to institutional strategy and goals results in a symbiotic relationship in which technology not only serves but also shapes strategic ambitions. In this evolving environment, enterprise IT becomes mission-centric and client-focused, positioning the college or university to integrate digital technology into every area of the institution in a way that increases value across all aspects of the higher education mission.

The EDUCAUSE Enterprise IT Program focuses on five themes:

  1. Governance and relationship management. Alignment between enterprise IT efforts and institutional goals is a critical part of successful enterprise IT functioning. An effective IT governance process can help institutional leaders draw connections between the two as well as engage stakeholders in enterprise IT efforts.
  2. Technology strategy. The strategy required for successful enterprise IT operation is shifting as technology evolves and institutional strategy changes. Developing an effective technology strategy requires a deeper understanding of institutional culture and need than ever before, as well as a sharper focus on data integration and data governance. The technology strategy should align closely with institutional mission and goals.
  3. Understanding costs and value. Enterprise IT is expensive, and it's not always easy to articulate the value these services bring to the institutional mission and goals. Enterprise IT leaders should work to maximize value and increase efficiency, while also communicating with campus stakeholders in a way that helps them understand the value of enterprise IT as it relates to and furthers goals.
  4. Business process management. Enterprise systems do not typically differentiate one college or university from another, and it is important to frame enterprise decision making with this in mind. Streamlining processes to create efficiencies and increase alignment with institutional goals may result in resources that can be reallocated to other mission critical and differentiating functions.
  5. Analytics. Data should be managed and treated as a strategic institutional asset. Institutions need to develop analytics strategies based on institutional strategic priorities that can meet compliance and regulatory needs, monitor progress on institutional short-term goals and long-term strategy, and inform institutional decision-making.

For more information, please visit the EDUCAUSE Enterprise IT website.