The EDUCAUSE 2017 Top 10 IT Issues


  • Rebecca Davis, Director of Instructional and Emerging Technology, St. Edward’s University
  • Susan Grajek, VP of Data, Research, and Analytics, EDUCAUSE
  • Marden Paul, Director, Planning, Governance, Assessment & Comms, University of Toronto
  • Gerard Au, AVP, IT Services, CSU San Bernardino
  • John Landers, PMO Leader, Case Western Reserve University
  • Michele Norin, SVP and CIO, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Top 10 IT issues

We have a large slate of professionals who weigh in on these issues each year. They come from pretty much every role in higher education IT. They meet four times a year, and we ask “what is the most important IT issue facing your institution?” We do this each quarter, and then again in the Summer before the annual conference…and that’s the list we’re presenting today.

  1. Information Security
  2. Student Success & completion
  3. Data-informed decision making
  4. Strategic leadership
  5. Sustainable funding
  6. Data mgmt and governance
  7. Higher ed affordability
  8. Sustainable staffing
  9. Next-gen enterprise IT
  10. Digital transformation of learning

* Bold items are new to the list this year.

Discussion of the Issues

  • Next Generation Enterprise IT: developing and implementing enterprise IT applications, architectures, and sourcing strategies to achieve agility, scalability, cost-effectiveness, and effective analytics.
  • Digital Transformation of Learning: collaborating with faculty and academic leadership to apply technology to teaching and learning in ways that reflect innovations in pedagogy and the institutional mission. Do you limit what tech people can use or do you have a limited set of tools you offer (limited set won the day). What’s the most misunderstood aspect of this issue? X solution = the panacea for digital learning. New networks are horizontal and personalized, not just content delivery online. It’s bigger than the implementation of a tech stack. Roles for people in this ecosystem will be different.
  • Strategic Uses of Data
    • Student Success and completion – effectively applying data and predictive analytics to improve student success and completion. What are the implications? The tech implementation does NOT necessarily solve the problem. Changing the culture is the hard part, especially when the technology adds another burden, i.e. just another chore. Aggregation of data from systems of record continues to be troublesome.
    • Data-informed decision making – ensuring that BI, reporting and analytics are relevant, convenient, and used by administrators, faculty and students. Engaging with all stakeholders is important to ensure we have the right data to make decisions…we all need to refer to the same dataset. IT needs to be the glue that holds all these folks together. Consider hiring a Chief Data Officer, to ask all these questions. Some faculty are getting student involvement by giving FitBits and recording what they eat as a means of educating them about owning their own data.
    • Data management and governance – improving the management of institutional data through data standards, integration, protection, and governance. How many people think that their data is always accurate? << laughter >> Are there outsized expectations of Big Data? Yes! It’s not about the tools, it’s about how people use the tools and how that affects the data downstream (which can be very bad). Use the data for what it is supposed to do…don’t adapt it for your own immediate purposes; rely on authoritative sources. Data is not a project, it’s a process.



How does this list make you feel? Do you feel hopeful? Cautious? Something else?

  • I think we’re collecting more data right now than we’re able to use effectively. Eventually, our ability to manage and process this data will become doable.
  • Cautiously optimistic.
  • As a PM, I’m nervous! What gives me hope is the fact that we’re not alone…we have this organization and our colleagues on other campuses.
  • IT is more relevant than ever…everybody is now a part of IT!

What was issue 11?

  • Building a sustainable workforce (but next-gen IT workforce was)

Did we slice the data by different university types?

  • Yes! It will be in the January issue.

Where can you get a copy of these slides?

  • Somewhere on the EDUCAUSE web site 🙂

What skills are necessary for next-gen IT?

  • How to read contracts << laughter >>
  • Click-throughs are not a good idea. Legal counsel will have a problem with 60 page documents with embedded links to other documents.
  • Business Analyst mentality will become more important.
  • You don’t know how much you know until you know how much you care.
  • Soft skills are really important – distributed leadership and the support to do that.


By Paul Schantz

CSUN Director of Web & Technology Services, Student Affairs. husband, father, gamer, part time aviator, fitness enthusiast, Apple fan, and iguana wrangler.

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