In 2016, Gartner estimated that universities would spend $38.2 billion on higher education technology. Jan-Martin Lowendahl, Gartner vice president and distinguished analyst, gave a telling quote: “Higher education is still mostly considered a conservative and slow-moving industry, with the majority of innovation coming from outside the traditional education IT organization,” he said. “However, it is only a matter of time until all this innovation will impact the institution.”
Higher education services themselves are changing, and so are the ways that higher ed IT teams deliver traditional services. Here are four ITSM challenges higher ed IT teams are tackling right now.
1. All Things Cloud
Cloud migration presents significant cost advantages for universities on tight budgets (more on that in a minute). With cloud, colleges only pay for the services they use, and they avoid the significant capital expenditures required to update on-campus data centers.
At the same time, many cloud services providers aren’t prepared to deliver the level of security a university requires. “One of the most difficult things about our cloud migration is finding and vetting different cloud companies to understand the level of service and security they are able provide,” says Rebecca Chickering, College of the Holy Cross, director of technology support. “There is an air of uncertainty around finding a good fit, and a challenge to understand how they’ll guard and authenticate our data.”
2. Centralized Data Ownership
One of the biggest ITSM challenges – and opportunities – at universities right now is making data available to everyone. Enterprise data warehouses provide accessible and cleansed data that can be used for a range of reporting and analytics applications.
Cloud resources provide affordable compute resources for advanced services. Predictive analytics, for example, are helping universities understand which students are more likely to drop out, so colleges can intervene before it’s too late. Stewardship of that data and what’s extracted from it, however, comes with significant privacy and security concerns. Again, security presents a challenge as universities look for cloud storage solutions and cloud backup for their data.
3. Student Demand
Students expect universities to be on the cutting edge when it comes to technology across various departments. They want emerging technologies like 3D printing and virtual reality. They also want to use multiple personal devices on university networks. On-campus data streaming requirements have, in some cases, doubled every two years over the past decade.
In addition to consuming others’ content, students want to create and upload their own content. IT teams have to negotiate expanded data demands with telecom carriers while also increasing their own WAN capacity. Delivering these services with speed and always-on availability is a big challenge for university networks.
4. Tighter Budgets
As state budgets decrease funding for higher education, universities have to find ways to do more with fewer resources. Automation helps to decrease the ops workload, delivering better services for both faculty and students with less effort.
“We have implemented automation throughout different levels across our campus,” Chickering says. “On a simpler level, automation is important for executing any hardware rollouts or decommissioning and tracking equipment across campus.”
The digital transformation is delivering a whole new menu of services, and tools like cloud are changing paradigms for ITSM. For a deeper dive into how higher ed ITSM is changing, with insights from IT leaders working in higher ed, download our white paper IT for Education: Priorities, Challenges and Automation Secrets.