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The EDUCAUSE 2019 Top 10 IT Issues are out.

They are:

  1. Information Security Strategy: Developing a risk-based security strategy that effectively detects, responds to, and prevents security threats and challenges.
  2. Student Success: Serving as a trusted partner with other campus units to drive and achieve student success initiatives.
  3. Privacy: Safeguarding institutional constituents’ privacy rights and maintaining accountability for protecting all types of restricted data.
  4. Student-Centered Institution: Understanding and advancing technology’s role in optimizing the student experience (from applicants to alumni).
  5. Digital Integrations: Ensuring system interoperability, scalability, and extensibility, as well as data integrity, security, standards, and governance, across multiple applications and platforms.
  6. Data-Enabled Institution: Taking a service-based approach to data and analytics to reskill, retool, and reshape a culture to be adept at data-enabled decision-making.
  7. Sustainable Funding: Developing funding models that can maintain quality and accommodate both new needs and the growing use of IT services in an era of increasing budget constraints.
  8. Data Management and Governance: Implementing effective institutional data governance practices and organizational structures.
  9. Integrative CIO: Repositioning or reinforcing the role of IT leadership as an integral strategic partner of institutional leadership in achieving institutional missions.
  10. Higher Education Affordability: Aligning IT’s priorities and resources with institutional priorities and resources to achieve a sustainable future.

What do you think?

I have 10 reactions:

1 - A Pretty Good List:

I’m always critical of the content of this EDUCAUSE list. This 2019 list is one that I sort of like. The top issues feel broader and more strategic than in the past. They are less about the technologies and more about the institutional goals that technology can enable. These 10 issues cover areas that every higher education leader should be curious about.

2 - Curious If This Is List Is About IT Leaders Time or Worry?:

What is the relationship between the content of this top 10 list and the thoughts, behaviors, and actions of IT leaders? Do CIO’s and other institutional technology leaders spend most of their time on these top 10 issues? Is this a list of their priorities?  Or their fears?  Knowing a bit more about the context of this list would help me understand and evaluate its content. For those of us who were not at the EDUCAUSE conference where this list was released, it would be good to hear from those who were present.  

3 - Surprise At the Absence of Institutional Resilience:

Are you as surprised as I am that institutional resilience did not make the top 10?  I’m not talking about IT funding, as that is number 7 on the list. I’m thinking about the ability of the college to achieve economic viability.  How many CIO’s work in environments where the existential future of the institution is in question?  Even if there are not many schools that are at risk of closing, shouldn’t this be an issue that the higher ed IT industry is thinking about?

4 - Data Is Everything:

Data is the big message of 2019. Higher education is late to the data-driven decision-making party. The good news is that almost everything is a data upside. So few decisions in higher ed are data that any improvements translate into big advances.  We could spend our entire careers working to give students, professors, and administrators access to actionable data.

5 - Wondering Who Is the Audience?:

This is another context question about the EDUCAUSE list.  Who is the audience? Is this a list that helps the higher ed IT community understand itself? Or is this a list that presidents, provosts, deans, and faculty should look at?  It would be an interesting thought experiment to write the top 10 higher ed IT list from the perspective of the intended audience. How would that approach change what makes it on to the list?

6 - Surprise that Talent Development and Diversity are Not in the Top 10:

Not quite understanding the full context or motivation for the list, my surprise that talent development and diversity are not included might be off-base.  The goal to build diverse organizations while recruiting and retaining the best talent may be an ongoing concern of the IT profession.  A constant rather than a variable.  I would still like to understand why there is not more focus on people on this list.

7 - Wondering What Campus IT Leaders Talk About When They Talk About Online Education:

Ask me any question, and my answer will be online education. So I’m biased. Still, I have trouble understanding why online education is nowhere to be found on the list. It is impossible to talk about higher education change without talking about the growth of online learning.  Online education is dependent on the higher education IT. Issues of security, student success, data, funding, and affordability are intimately wrapped up with most schools online learning operations.

8 - Curious About the Lack of Overlap with the ELI 2019 Key Issues in Teaching and Learning List:

Perhaps the existence of the ELI Key Issues list exempts the EDUCAUSE mothership from putting teaching and learning related issues on its list.  I still read the lack of teaching and learning issues as curious. How could it be that academic transformation is everywhere in the ELI community, and nowhere to be found in the IT list?  Maybe the EDUCAUSE list should have one entry that says “see the ELI list.”

9 - Concerned That Innovation Does Not Appear:

We know that higher ed IT budgets allocated about 80 percent to operations, leaving whatever is left over for projects related to growth and innovation.  Does anybody in higher ed IT think that this is a good result? I would imagine that IT leaders would like to push more of their people and dollars towards innovation.  Why is this goal not reflected on the top 10 list?

10 - Wondering If IT Leaders Think About Public Disinvestment?

My perennial worry about the higher ed IT profession is that it is focussed on operating within the system that we have, rather than creating the system that we need. Top on my list for what higher ed IT leaders should be spending their time on is public funding.  How often are CIO’s leading the fight for public postsecondary investments?  This is not an issue only for those who work at state institutions.  If we believe that higher education forms the bedrock of individual opportunity and societal advancement, then all of us should be fighting for adequate public funding.

What do you think of the EDUCAUSE list?

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