Aligning IT and University Strategy - Paul Curran - Jisc Digital Festival 2014


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City University London has the ambition to be a leading global university and is investing heavily in academic staff, IT and its estate. This presentation will start with a discussion of some of the major sectoral trends in IT supply and demand with a focus on education.

The IT service at City in 2010/11 and today will be described, along with discussion of the journey and some of the challenges faced. Particular attention will be paid to a move from a devolved 'cottage industry' approach to a more centralised and commoditised but flexible approach to IT service; changing student expectations and aligning with the University’s Strategic Plan.

The presentation will conclude with some observations on this transition for both academic staff and IT professional staff.

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  • I have been asked to make some general comments on trends in IT and reflect on the IT journey we are on at City.
  • Demand by staff and students is increasing: supply is changing rapidly and there are major challenges for universities where these demand and supply trends intersect.This is true in research, enterprise, education and university management but today I will focus on the challenges in education and how we have met them in our recent journey at City.
  • Some trends in student demand that have influenced our thinking at City :Humanising HE,Enhancing the education experience, andEngendering community spirit.I’ll say a bit more about each of them.
  • As we know, students are looking for a more personal experience.
  • Some universities are exploiting technology to provide a more personalised education experience for their students and to make learning resources more accessible. This is helped by the ubiquitous nature of technology (at the last count over 99% of City University London students owned a mobile phone with over 70% possessing an internet enabled device).
  • Technology can also enhance the education we offer. For example, the “flipped classroom” where students take greater control of their education by bringing their own devices; and academic staff preparing lectures in advance and then streaming them prior to more personalised face-to-face tutorials.
  • It can also build a sense of community.To ensure that learning through personal interaction is maintained we need a technologically robust estate that enables online and real life connectivity. Social Media, VLE, Self Service Apps and BYOD all have roles to play.
  • As quickly as student needs, interests and competences have developed, so have strong trends emerged in IT supply.Increasing standardisation of infrastructure components, the availability of outsourced infrastructure and ubiquitous wi-fi are among them.<Given the audience I won’t labour the point>
  • It will be helpful to illustrate these demand and supply issues and their implications by reflecting on our experience at City.I’ll describe the ‘before’ (how IT worked three years ago) and how we organised to align IT Services with our Strategic Plan.We can contrast the ‘then’ of three years ago with the ‘now’ of today and look forward to the ‘after’ of tomorrow.
  • Our Vision is founded on a commitment to academic excellence, including pride in the quality of our education.To achieve the educational aspects of the Vision, we needed to create a ‘sector leading’ experience in many of our areas of education.There were other things we had to work on but we realised that this was heavily dependent on exploiting the potential of technology.
  • In 2011, several things needed addressing<read verbatim from slides>The penultimate point was the most important. Each School had its own bespoke software that may have been documented, the designer may still have been on the staff but in most cases neither were true.Each School also had its own IT staff leading to considerable duplication and overlap.
  • We recognised that IT was a major enabler in the implementation of our Strategic Plan.Senior IT staff were fundamental to the Strategic Plan work streams, particularly those facing our students.Succeeding with Students andSucceeding with Research and Enterprise
  • Phase one involved preparation to capitalise on the supply trends I described earlier.This included full engagement of IT Services with the Strategic Plan,An efficiency programme to unify and simplify business processes,And a rationalisation of applications architecture to buy and integrate where possible.And IT Services was re-organised to recognise the transition from ‘make’ to ‘buy and integrate’.
  • With the preparations concluded, IT Services is now embracing commodity IT and external hosting.And the skills of our IT staff are changing. Relationship management skills, with suppliers and our internal customers, are now more evident.Although the infrastructure is commoditised, our developing customer-facing analysis and relationship skills are helping us develop unique services that directly enhance education and research.The stabilised and improved infrastructure allows energy to go into implementing sector leading devices in education and significantly improving customer service.
  • In 2013, things were being fixed.<Read verbatim from slides and contrast with 2010/11>
  • The slide shows some of the infrastructure improvements in detail and some of the financial and other benefits.<read from slide>
  • Whereas this slide shows the details of some of the educational improvements.<read slide>
  • Responsive design has been used where this will scale onto any type of device a student may have. This is demonstrating how the workspaces would reformat for a handheld device, allowing the student to scroll down to see more information.
  • Likewise we have a Tutees dashboard allowing them to track the progress of their students and to interact with them.
  • But there’s more to come as the supply and demand trends harden:Increased commoditisationCommodity IT sourced through third partiesUnified core processesIncreased and improved provision of education online with student access through own devicesBig Data analysis to assess student progress and offer individual course pathwaysEnhanced staff skills to purchase and integrate components on the supplier sideAnd to deliver differentiated services on the ‘customer’ sideStaff roles will morph from technical to hybrid: technical core with business analysis and relationship management
  • The challenges for some academic staff will be considerable:Technical skills will be as important as pedagogic skillsBecoming as adept n the virtual world as the physical worldMastering the skills of our Net generation students and meeting their expectationsAnd for IT staff:Supplier management and systems integrationAnd ‘customer’ management and requirements analysis will become more relevant than application development and maintenance
  • This slide, produced by A T Kearney, emphasises he declining importance of infrastructure management and application management, the two main areas of classical IT departments.And the growing importance of relationship management – both supplier and ‘customer’.
  • I hope I’ve been able to demonstrate the clear trends in ‘customer’ demand and IT supply in HE, particularly in education.These present significant challenges for both academics and professional IT staff.There is little option but to meet these challenges head on if student and staff satisfaction is to increase.At City we believe we’re making good progress as we stabilise and improve service, reduce overheads and IT staff and satisfy our students .Thank you
  • Aligning IT and University Strategy - Paul Curran - Jisc Digital Festival 2014

    1. 1. Academic excellence for business and the professions Aligning IT and University Strategy Professor Paul Curran Vice-Chancellor 11th March 2014
    2. 2. Introduction • Staff & students‟ needs and competencies (demand) & IT capability (supply) are changing rapidly • Major implications for HEIs‟ research, enterprise, education & support of all three • Here I will focus on education: IT for the delivery & support of education our experience at City some challenges
    3. 3. IT for delivery and support of education: some demand trends relevant to City 1. Humanising HE 2. Enhancing education experience 3. Engendering community spirit
    4. 4. 1. Humanising HE “To improve our educational establishments, we have to humanise them and make education personal to every student and lecturer in the system. Education is always about relationships. Great lecturers are not just instructors and test administrators: they are mentors, coaches, motivators and lifelong sources of inspiration to their students.” Professor Sir Ken Robinson TED Talks Education Conference, 7th May 2013
    5. 5. • Some universities are meeting this challenge by exploiting IT • Most City University London students possess an internet-enabled device and want to use it • With high speed broadband, such devices extend the reach of HE & increase access to learning resources
    6. 6. 2. Enhancing education experience • Around half of our students are from outside the UK • The “Flipped Classroom” if used well can enhance the educational experience • Academics can prepare lectures in advance & stream online • Students can watch the lecture repeatedly (any time any place) at a pace & on a device of their choice • Academics can use their time to focus on mentoring, coaching & motivating through onsite tutorials
    7. 7. 3. Engendering community spirit • We have a very fragmented academic staff & student community • Net generation students are „digital natives‟, experienced multi- taskers & comfortable interacting online • Staff & students need to work collaboratively, moving effortlessly and together between physical & virtual worlds • Social media together with the VLE, self-service applications and BYOD have a role in providing flexible, inspiring learning spaces
    8. 8. IT for delivery and support of education: some supply trends 1. Outsourced infrastructure 2. Commoditised components 3. Ubiquitous wi-fi
    9. 9. Our recent experience at City 1. What are we trying to achieve? 2. Then: 2010/11 3. Organisation of IT change process 4. IT & its alignment with the Strategic Plan 5. Now: 2013/14 6. The future
    10. 10. 1. What are we trying to achieve? • City University London aspires to be „a leading global University ranked within the top 2% of universities in the world by 2016‟ & is investing around £200M quickly in people, IT & its estate • To achieve the educational aspects of the Strategic Plan, we needed to create a „sector leading‟ IT experience in key areas (sector average in others) • Part of this will be delivered by exploiting the potential of IT
    11. 11. 2. Then: 2010/11 • IT Services: £14.6M budget, 142 FTE staff • Governance of projects weak & poorly-linked to Strategic Plan • IT infrastructure predominantly insourced & needed updating • Technology in education of average technical capability with inadequate speed & functionality • No clearly-defined standard (consistency & quality) for equipment in learning spaces: poor condition / design of PC labs • Core business processes sub-optimal: overly complex application architecture • Devolved ‘cottage industry make’ approach rather than centralised & „commoditised buy‟ approach • Notwithstanding pockets of excellence, the overall perception of IT Services : reactive, lacking excellent customer service, poor at completion & lacking agility
    12. 12. 3. Organisation of IT change process Governance structures were developed with IT making major contributions to Strategic Plan implementation „work streams‟, each led by a member of the University Executive Team: ENHANCING OUR CULTURE TO DELIVER ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE SUCCEEDING WITH STUDENTS SUCCEEDING WITH RESEARCH AND ENTERPRISE • Recruitment • Performance management • Development • Academic staff experience • Educational success • Student experience • Student recruitment • Student journey • Quality • Impact • Quantity
    13. 13. 4. IT & its alignment with the Strategic Plan: Phase one • Engage IT Services closely with all of City so it is better able to provide services that support the Strategic Plan • An efficiency programme to unify & simplify core business processes • Rationalise applications • Add an infrastructure of leading technologies: Moodle (enhance learning environment), Office 365 (strengthen collaboration), Sharepoint (personalise education) - quickly • Reorganise around a „one City‟ shared internal service model
    14. 14. 4. IT and its alignment with the Strategic Plan: Phase two • Source commodity IT (e.g., platform hosting, finance & HR systems) through third parties • The skills of IT staff significantly enhanced to provide the capability to develop unique services that directly enhance education & research (VLE, portal, audio/visual) • Stabilise & improve infrastructure, implement sector-leading devices in education & significantly improve service to students
    15. 15. 5. Now: 2013/14 - conceptually • IT Services: £12.1M budget, 135 FTE staff (more junior mix) • Strong project governance with priorities set by Strategic Plan • Modern outsourced IT infrastructure • Sector leading IT in key areas of education: fast & functional • Standard equipment in educational spaces: consistent & high quality • Standardised & simplified core business processes, supported by commodity components • Centralised and ‘commoditised buy’ approach within a „One City‟ internal shared service model • Perception of IT Services as proactive, agile & student & academic staff focussed (SU award for improvements to services for students)
    16. 16. 5. Now: 2013/14 – infrastructure examples • Transfer of some systems to (external) shared service data centre: saving £3.5M over 10 years. • Reduction of 9% in annual cost of IT hardware. • Significant improvements in wi-fi provision • Improved resilience, backup &recovery leading to fewer interruptions to core business activities • Establishment of 24 * 365 Service Desk • Implementation of Eduroam wireless network (allowing staff to access services at universities around the world) • Replacement of email & calendar system with Office 365 – delivering 25Gb of mail storage space to staff & students.
    17. 17. 5. Now: 2013/14 - education examples • Stabilisation of Online Registration system • Upgrade of over 1,600 student lab PCs with improved memory • Implementation of Echo 360 lecture capture • Enhanced look, feel & functionality of Moodle • Implemented system to manage Moodle digital assets • Implementation of a university-wide module evaluation system to collect student feedback and produce management reports
    18. 18. 6. The future • Increased commoditisation will present more opportunities for gradual outsourcing & reducing IT staff numbers • Commodity IT sourced through third parties • Unified core processes for all administration • Increased & improved provision of education online: student access through own devices • „Big Data‟ analysis to assess student progress & to provide individual course pathways • Enhanced IT staff skills to purchase & integrate components & deliver differentiated services • IT staff roles will morph from technical to hybrid: technical core with business analysis & relationship management
    19. 19. Some challenges: for staff Changing skills for academic staff • Integrating technical & pedagogic skills • Changing the way we educate • Becoming as adept at working within the virtual world as the physical world • Mastering the skills of our Net generation students • Training Changing skills for IT staff • Relationship management – both supplier & student • Systems integration more relevant than application development & maintenance • Training
    20. 20. Some challenges: for IT Services
    21. 21. Conclusion General • Strong trends in student demand & IT supply • Challenges for both IT staff & academic staff • Meeting them is essential for student & academic staff satisfaction At City • Devolved IT became „One City‟ IT • System downtime reduced • IT staffing costs reduced by £1.2M • Non-staff costs reduced by £1.3M • NSS scores for IT increased by 5% so far • In a nutshell: at City we stabilised and improved service, reduced IT staff and non-staff IT costs and satisfied our students • But there is much more to do