Met up with some fellow IT Directors and senior managers last night for a discussion on the Future of the University IT Department. Lots of interesting topics covered, some agreement on where we're going, and some disagreement, which is what makes for a good and interesting debate.
General consensus was that we have interesting times ahead (in the Chinese sense of the word of course). We know University budgets are going to be reduced, so we will all be looking for significant savings, but there's going to be an increasing demand for our services - especially from students if fees are increased, and from the rest of the University to help them become more efficient and make their savings. It was also generally acknowledged that in general we already run good and efficient services, so there's not a lot of quick wins to be had - this is especially important when shared services are discussed. There's also a move towards more lightweight solutions to services, including cloud, web2.0, and outsourcing.
In terms of global top priorities, Gartner identified improving business processes and reducing enterprise costs as their top two for CEOs this year, whilst UCISA's top concerns of CIOs have funding and sustainable resourcing, IT strategy and planning, and organisational change and process improvement as the top three. How do these match with our own institutional objectives, and where does the student experience and teaching and learning fit in?
We talked a lot about innovation, and how to protect it when financial pressures often mean that we put all of our available resources into keeping the lights on.
Other pressures on us include the mobile market, and in particular its diversity, the green IT agenda and data and document management and storage. Shared services are seen by some in government as the way forward, but will be difficult and costly to implement, and how do we build a business case for them? As we move more towards a different service delivery model, our service management model will also change - where does ITIL sit for example when services are not delivered from on campus?
Lots of very good debate, and sharing of experiences. General agreement that the IT department of the future will be different to now, and we will need different skill sets to deliver different services - although I suspect that has always been the case as technology has evolved. The question in this case is it it evolution or revolution?