UB Survey Results: Higher Ed IT Strategies for 2020 and Beyond

Moving from maintenance to growth and transformation

How are higher education technology leaders using IT resources today and planning to meet the future challenges? How are colleges and universities allocating IT budgets across the run-grow-transform spectrum of priorities? And how can IT leaders move from just maintaining technologies, to growing and transforming their institutions?

This web seminar explored the results of a new UB subscriber survey exploring these topics, as well as higher ed technology leadership, budgeting and strategies for 2020 and beyond.


Kurt Eisele-Dyrli
Research Editor
University Business

Andrew Graf
Chief Product Strategist

Kurt Eisele-Dyrli: We deployed a survey to UB’s full audience of higher ed leaders. One of the questions was about how their IT budget is allocated. The leading answer: 67% of the IT budget is typically allocated toward maintenance and operations. Andrew, does this surprise you?

Andrew Graf: It doesn’t surprise me at all. We see this quite frequently. As technology proliferates, sometimes people in university administrations forget that all new technologies have to be cared for on an ongoing basis. This is a common challenge.

Kurt Eisele-Dyrli: Another question: Do respondents feel they are meeting student expectations, particularly when it comes to technology and their college experience? A very small percentage agreed strongly. A higher percentage said, “yes,” they meet student expectations. But more than half said they disagreed, and another good percentage said they strongly disagreed.

Andrew Graf: Again, this doesn’t surprise me. But one thing that did surprise me is that there’s anyone who says they strongly agree that they’re meeting student expectations at this point, especially since students are engaging with and leveraging consumer-focused technology all the time, and that technology is changing rapidly. It’s hard for most universities to take large enterprise systems and put interaction points on them that can compete with the ease and simplicity of the tools that students are using day in and day out.

When 67% of an institution’s budget is spent just keeping the lights on, it’s hard to change this dynamic. How do we switch resources to provide technologies that not only meet expectations, but also satisfy students?

Kurt Eisele-Dyrli: We’ve talked about a number of challenges. Will you talk a bit more about solutions to some of those challenges—some of the ideas and strategies?

Andrew Graf: A few areas we’ve seen schools focus on are improving service management maturity and addressing self-service and automation, resource capacity planning and total cost of ownership.

Technology has exploded in higher education, and we continue to add more and more. We see a big opportunity to step back and review: What is the total cost of ownership of the different platforms we’re using, and how do we find ways to make them more cost-effective or to choose other solutions that may be more cost-effective?

Where are we going to get the biggest bang for the buck? When you and your team step back and think about your process maturity, you’ll be able to identify a couple of key areas where you’re lagging or where you could effect change. Start there. And then, fine-tune.

The second component of this is driving self-service. One of the better ways to reduce the drag on resources is to self-serve more students, faculty and staff. Help Desk Institute did a study that compared the cost of self-service requests with the requests that team members had to address. Non-self-service requests cost on average $22, and self-service requests cost around $2. That’s an incredible return on investment.

Total cost of ownership for an application includes your licensing and maintenance fees, and also all the internal time that it takes to set up and, most importantly, to care for and feed. Managing vendor costs is becoming a bigger and bigger challenge. As you think about system administration, it’s important to evaluate how much time is actually going to be spent on the application. That should be asked about a lot in a request for proposal. Also, ask what can be automated within the system. What are the things that will save you time? What can you automate to lower the total cost of ownership?

What’s our philosophy about how we develop products? Our pillars are accessibility, serving students’ needs, rapid impact and fitting within budgets. If you look at these pillars that we use, maybe it could help in your own evaluation of technology, whether you’re building or buying.

To watch this web seminar in its entirety, please visit UBmag.me/ws021120

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