Today started fairly early with a meeting with the Vice Chancellor at 8.30am. This was a welcome opportunity for me to put forward some of the issues we are facing at the moment, and make some proposals about how we want to interact with the new University Executive Board. We discussed user expectations a lot and how we might manage them. The consumerisation of IT has led to an increase in expectations - of simple, user friendly web interfaces (who needs to be trained to shop on-line at Tescos or use eBay?), of 24 by 7 availability (despite us having no 24 by 7 people), and cheap commodity products such as storage (a 1TB storage device last week cost me less than £250).
IT systems - or lack of them - is often used as a reason why people can't do their jobs better - "if only we had a system which would do this", or "how much more efficient we could be if only we had a system to do x". In practice, many changes and improvements can be made without massive IT systems - by analysing and improving business processes. Another issue we face is the increasing number and complexity of the systems we are supporting- investment in infrastructure may not be glamorous but is necessary if we are going to continue to maintain our existing service levels.
Mobility and the proliferation of devices which people need to access information on gives us support problems - and a dependence on factors outside of our control such as data and voice network providers.
But - there are many opportunities we need to take advantage of - IT is a strategic resource, and can make a difference to the bottom line of a business if used effectively. Prioritisation is key, with clear business benefits set out for all development work. It will be important that we interact with the new UEB at a strategic level, with regular contact and feedback. Hopefully the new Faculty structure will improve our liaison, communication and support.
This afternoon we had an Executive Meeting, where we discussed many of the issues above, as well as the implications of implementing Office 2007 on our managed desktop this summer and the need for some investment in reporting and production of management and planning information.