Several colleagues and I recently completed a study examining the impact of transformational technologies on higher education. We interviewed ten CIOs and one CTO from colleges and universities across America, to understand the impact of cloud, social, mobile, and advanced network infrastructure on higher education.
The study is titled Innovation and Transformation: Going Beyond the Social Campus, and it is available free, courtesy of Enterasys Networks (disclosure: they are a paid client). I plan to write much more about the lessons from this research.
As part of the activities associated with this research, I moderated a panel discussion at Educause, the most important and prestigious conference for IT and CIOs in higher education. The panel included four highly articulate participants:
- Dave Waldron, CIO of St. Edward's University
- Phil Komarny, CIO of Seton Hill University
- Joanna Young, CIO of the University of New Hampshire
- Vala Afshar, Chief Customer Officer and Chief Marketing Officer of Enterasys Networks
Although this paper discusses higher education, the lessons apply to any industry. Do not let the veneer of another industry deter you from adapting the lessons to your own situation!
The panel discussed strategies these CIOs use to serve their organization’s key mission. For higher education this means helping with student retention, recruitment, fundraising, and educational delivery. Of course, operational efficiency and cost reduction are always part of the IT mandate, so the discussion touched there as well.
These CIOs distinguish themselves precisely because their key focus is innovation, rather than cost reduction. Many organizations primarily expect the CIO (and IT) to drive efficiency and cost savings, rather than participate in planning important strategic decisions. This view devalues IT, and is intensely shortsighted, because most industries today rely on technology to create strategic advantage.
The paper I mentioned earlier presents a road map for helping the CIO change his or her relationship to the broader organization. Download it and read the stories of truly innovative CIOs.
In the meantime, enjoy the following video clip, in which four strategic thinkers discuss issues that hit the core of IT relevance in today's world: