Business as Unusual: HR Policies

As a young manager, I used to say no one really left my department. I tried to give everyone a part-time assignment when they moved on to their next role. It was a slight manipulation of the HR system, but it allowed me to continue to have access to great talent who could help with special projects and overloads.

I was fortunate a few years later to be able to keep a truly exceptional UNIX admin on the payroll even though he had moved out of state because I already had this process in place. He worked nearly full-time, was paid at his old rate, and we never missed a beat on his productivity.

I mention this because today we need to be seriously thinking about how to enable remote work even when we return to the office. And the key in both of these examples was the ability to find flexibility in the HR rules and partners in HR who understood what I was trying to do and helped me navigate the system.

Today, as CIOs get ready for business as unusual, we need to be calling our friends in HR and talking about how we could hire, enable and maintain a talented employee who never set foot in our state. The iron is hot, we’re dealing with remote workers now, so it’s time to write a policy that says you actually can do this and get HR to sign off on it. hashtagcovid19 hashtagworkfromhome

Business as Unusual: Today’s CIO To Do

I read an alarming article the other day. Inside Higher Ed ( published an a story describing how students are voicing concerns that they did not receive the value of their tuition when they were sent home. The article also discusses how some are talking about wanting refunds.

I think most people, in the height of the emergency response to a pandemic, will tolerate a one-time event such as we have all experienced with universities and colleges shifting to online instead of shutting down the semester.

What I don’t think most people will tolerate is a continuation of online teaching in the fall for the same price as in person tuition – particularly at high reputation private schools.

While there is a history of intentional distance education classes charging the same costs as traditional classes, that intentionality has two important differences from the online education we are often conducting right now. First, people choose to sign up for it instead of being forced into it. And second, it is designed from the beginning to be online with (in most cases) appropriate pedagogical decisions about distance education.

So, today, what can a CIO do about this?

Of course, we’re not going to be making decisions about institutional pricing for courses. But we can do two things focusing on supporting faculty and projecting presence. I’ve been talking about the latter one for several years and I have real hope that its time may have come.

The first thing is to focus on providing support to ensure the best value in the online experience. This is something most IT departments know how to do but they are often under-resourced in this space and this work sometimes lacks priority focus. We need to think about how we can retool our teams to assist faculty with developing online content, especially those faculty who were forced into delivering lectures online for the first time this semester. This doesn’t mean dragging faculty into training rooms to sit on the wrong side of the podium where an instructional designer lectures them on what to do. It means sending people to faculty offices to think through with them how to retool their course, it means helping faculty do the work of developing online content, and most importantly, it means connecting them to other faculty who are already teaching effectively online. We don’t need to expect faculty to become experts in developing video for example. We need to provide experts who can work with them and for them. And we’re probably going to need to make cases for short-term funding support to staff up to do this.

The other thing we can do to add value to online instruction is to assist student support units in moving support online. The most obvious way to do this is to strengthen our enterprise resource planning systems and simplify and preferably mobilize the user experience. But to truly project presence to the student at home, we need to think about how a financial aid officer can interact via video conference with the student. Both sides of that conversation will likely now be conversant with using video tools but now we need to be able to easily and smoothly share screens, to quickly scan and send documents, and to coach that officer on how to deal with a new cultural environment where their interaction with the student connects them more closely to the school, creates a relationship that can help the student succeed, and crosses cultural boundaries in a way that better serves a diverse audience. It isn’t just the technology that enables this, it is developing training and coaching to effectively use the technology to help the student and drive the university forward.

So there’s a third idea in here. That IT has to stretch its sense of itself from provider of technology to enabler of the technology user. In both these examples, we have to go beyond providing “training” to serving, mentoring, and coaching people to be successful with technology.

So what do you need to do first today? Find a partner. Call the director of financial aid, the leader of student advising, the bursar and find someone who wants to project presence and then begin the conversation about how to get it done.

Is higher education ready to get back to work?

How do we recover from the new normal? Coming back after COVID.

Today, higher education is coping with an emergency change to a new world where classes and most universities had to immediately move everything online, despite not really knowing what “online” means for instruction or operations. A world where we can’t see or touch our customers, students or our employees. Where the timeline for getting back to normal is vague at best.

In the middle of this pandemic, it is hard to take time to think about the future because of the disruption level in every aspect of our lives. But the changes we are experiencing will profoundly affect how we face the next new normal. We have to be planning for that as well. And we can draw on recovery experiences during past weather-related emergencies such as hurricanes along the Gulf coast.

In higher education, the forces of another tidal wave of changes have been threatening colleges and universities for some time. Those changes, of fewer students, with smaller means to pay, of the culture changes required to meet the needs of a more diverse student body, has already forced closures and disruption. Worse, many institutions bet increased spending on enrollment growth which has not materialized while the unrelenting mortgages have.

Smart leaders have been planning for these changes. But the post-pandemic era will drive more and different changes that will deepen the challenges already in play and those schools that are ready will be able to transform and lead the next era of academia. It is important to note that this is not a rehash of the overblown disruption expectations of distance education, MOOCs, or for-profit schools that have been the subject of fevered discussion and failed to materialize.

These challenges will affect each school differently. There will certainly be some students who prefer the face-to-face, residential models. Some families will still be able to afford them. But in a recovering economy, where tax revenues impact state funding priorities, and where a distaste for student loans and skepticism about the value of college educations have been emerging headwinds, there is much work to do to remain viable and relevant.

When the first post-COVID semesters begin, almost all faculty will have taught at least a class online. Almost all students will have taken them. And almost all employees will have productively worked from their home offices. That is going to amplify the changes we are already seeing in higher education and break down barriers and traditional resistance to the possibilities that a more flexible approach offers.

And worse, for some schools, it is going to further reduce the potential pool of students and employees. Why, if students are struggling to afford an education or prefer not to borrow so much, can’t they work and take classes at home? Why would someone who is financially constrained pay for a dorm room when have a bedroom? For talented faculty and staff, why wouldn’t we take a better job with better pay without leaving our home? 

So, expect a further reduction in the number of students coming to campus.  Also a more competitive environment for faculty and staff talent. An increase in part-time and working students. Reduced barriers to taking classes from the competition. And an economy that may not be fully recovered enough to drive philanthropy. Pressure from all sides.  

And now, we need to not just pivot from a pandemic, we have to plan for a new environment, not just return to business as usual.

Are we ready for business as unusual?

There are a few key strategies we need to implement now. Because the universities who get this right first have a huge competitive advantage. We need to do the following right now to be ready for the future

1. Enable distance workers with policies and support. We’ve had our teams working remotely during the pandemic and we need to break through old thinking about whether this is a good thing.  Any employer can have access to a national marketplace of talent that has already been working remotely and our employees have access to a national marketplace of forward-thinking employers that don’t need them to relocate.  We want to be in the group of people that can retain the great employees they already have that want to work from home and can also access that new marketplace of talent.  This does not mean they have to work from home every day, but we need to be changing the rules because other schools will be.  

2. Reduce work-at-home friction. Provide the right technology and security but also think about how to optimize the home study and work environment. Recognize that there are OSHA issues for people working from home and connect policy to resources to ensure good chairs and safe and comfortable technology environments. Think about deals with network providers, and become familiar with laws in other states where our new employees might be.

3. Support our faculty. Faculty are now experienced in delivering content online but they’re not necessarily experts in distance education pedagogy. Seize the moment to help them excel. We will need to hire instructional designers and coaches who can help faculty move online. We also need to recognize that increasing diversity requires different ways of delivering instruction online as well as different ways of working. A generation of students raised on academic teamwork in high school may need assistance working alone in their homes. Faculty who are teaching across a country may need help with more than just cultural issues. Opportunities suddenly exist to use the national marketplace to build a more diverse team than might be possible in our home towns.

4. Our People are our Brand. Students won’t just attend our schools because of our brands. We need to personalize the connection as well. That personal connection has been missing from our lives and we want it back. Our students will want to know who will be teaching their classes. And our diversity will be on display.

5. Reduce our spend on real estate. If we’re enabling distance workers, we don’t need as much real estate inventory. If we’re enabling remote education, we probably don’t need as many new dorms. Quality, not quantity is critical. We can optimize costs through careful planning now. This does not mean the arms race for better facilities is over, it means we need more focus on delivering at a distance.

6. In key locales, consider leased space to project presence. Students like to be able to see each other and even those who want the convenience of home study will want to be able to be around each other. Spinning up a remote classroom is not the same thing as building a remote campus. Get spaces, hire some student support staff, and make it easy for students to come together. Test it and spin it down if it doesn’t work.

7. Don’t forget IT. Our IT staff are used to changing technology but not cultural change. We need them to keep up and fortunately we will have some clear heroes that can help grow the new IT organizations.

8. Enable distance customers. We need to develop an inventory of our products and services and focus on those that can be delivered remotely. Can any be delivered to the customer over the internet? We also need to not forget about nearby customers — we need to make it easy for people who don’t want to leave home or jobs to take classes in our communities, especially as family and community connections may have been strengthened by the pandemic.

9. Review lessons learned and strengthen our business continuity programs. There will be another emergency at some point and thick plans that no one reads will not help us. We need to make sure our plans are actionable, specific, and checklisted, while there is no emergency. And we need to practice and practice and practice.

10. Recognize our humanity. This is a huge change for people. Most of us have had lifelong views of work and school and how it should operate that have been rattled. Recognize work and school can happen outside the 8-5 window and that work and study from home necessarily involves different interruptions and competition for resources like bigger screens or desks.

Jim Bradley has served as a higher education technology leader for more than thirty years with significant experience in preparing for weather emergencies and business continuity efforts as well as supporting systems that deliver distance education.

Clickbait Alarmism

I have seen a number of alarmist headlines about various security issues that mostly appear resolved. In one that I saw today, published last week, the article detailed a vulnerability and waited to the end to say that the problem had been fixed!

That’s irresponsible in my view. By all means publish details and the solution, but don’t imply in the headline that there is an active vulnerability when there isn’t.

The world is on edge enough. People without technical experience and context are having to use unfamiliar tools as lifelines to stay connected to work, family, friends and churches. Don’t scare them. Don’t write clickbait headlines about dangers that aren’t there. Most people have to use the tools that are made available – if their work is using Zoom, or their church is using Facebook, that’s what they have to use.

I have never seen technology vendors step up the way they have, at the scale they have. Certainly not all, but some have done truly fine work, been responsible and transparent about issues, and tried to serve. They deserve kudos not clickbait alarmism.

For those of us that are IT professionals, this is an opportunity to lead, to tell the truth on things that need to be addressed, but to also create calm and confidence where appropriate. #lead

We are crossing the Rubicon

As I watch what is going on across higher education, I can’t help but think that this is a transformation moment. We are changing how education is delivered as we respond to the pandemic and these changes will not just go away and have everything return to normal. Every faculty member is going to be delivering education online. Every student is going to be receiving education online. And the resistance to online education is going to go away as a practical matter. Some may choose to return to face to face because they will prefer it. Some may choose more online models because they prefer it, but we’re going from a majority don’t use it to a majority do and I think we’re going to see the complexities increase for universities and colleges that are struggling and new possibilities open for those that can ride this wave.

Deal with Ambiguity but listen for nuance

People love bright, clear lines. And who can blame them? But that is a tactical world view. Strategy is different and it means living in a less defined world.

But twice recently, I’ve had to deal with a slightly different issue – the idea that we have to listen for nuance as an alarm. People rarely are direct and clear in their statement of issues. Nor do they take the time to write 20 page position papers to clearly articulate what they want and their priorities. Particularly if they too are busy leaders. Sure, if a system is down or something is clearly broken, there isn’t a lot of nuance. But more often people express their issues in very gentle and subtle ways. Often expressed as an offhand remark or a question. And most of us are not that good at hearing the seriousness of that nuance.

Oh sure, we hear what they say, but we treat it the same way it is expressed – as a mild or vague issue. What we need to understand is that we are hearing the tip of an iceberg people are uncomfortable with, not some tiny, offhand statement of a single issue. And if we’re good readers of people, we when hear that little bit of nuanced concern, we need to be hearing fire alarms. If your leader asks why you are doing something a certain way, that very likely is an expression of concern that you need to deal with. If a colleague makes an offhand remark about something you’re doing, you need to consider whether there is more to it than just an offhand remark. If a member of your team asks a question, it very likely is something that is really worrying them, even if it came out as an innocuous inquiry.

I’m a big fan of Patrick Lencioni and a lot of his work addresses clarity of communication and having the courage to have meaningful debates and trust your colleagues with what you really think. We need to all think about this as we try to create more bright, clear, lines. But we also need to listen and pay attention more to hear what people are telling us. We cannot assume that a gentle question is just a casual inquiry.

It may be nothing of course. Just like there may not be anything obscuring the obvious when we deal with ambiguity. Or there may be something serious that we need to pay attention to – and if we ignore it now, the eruption of the issue is going to catch us by complete surprise. 

Final Recommendations for Higher Ed in the Service Management Transition

EasyVista recently asked me to write about the evolution of service management in higher education. 

This is the fourth and final blog post on the topic of Transforming the University with IT Service Management.

What must a Higher Education CIO do to adapt?

As IT evolves in the service era, CIOs need to focus on how to be brokers of services and to lead their teams to confidently embrace these changes. IT is at risk of losing its relevance if it does not meet the needs of business partners who can and will acquire services from other providers if IT is not on top of its game. For IT to stay relevant, it must be three things – an effective integrator of services, a fast provider of (often sourced) services, and an effective manager of service delivery. This implies that IT must be able to quickly juggle internal and external services and set the standard for delivery of services.

To be able to do all this, the CIO must have strong, trusted, two-way relationships with customers, vendor partners, and their own teams.

Close relationships with internal business partners

The relevance challenge requires close relationships with internal business partners. CIOs need to know in advance what services consumers need and prevent finding out about them after deals are already done. They must build trust and be seen as a frictionless bringer of additional value. If the only thing the IT department provides is additional process (even if it adds long-term overall value to the organization), the individual business unit will try to create work arounds, which means the trust relationship is already broken. What additional process IT adds must be vetted and approved by users or else it will be ignored and avoided by students, faculty, and staff. Moreover, end users must set the priorities—and again—if they do not buy into the process in advance, they will work around it when their priority needs are not met.

Selection and focus on key service providers

Strong, ongoing, relationships with vendors are critical to being able to deliver the outsourced part of the equation. CIOs need to work out the logistics of long-term contracts and the procurement process so they can deliver as needs emerge. This is likely going to mean selecting fewer partners because managing these relationships is a critical success component and CIOs do not have infinite capacity to build great relationships with unlimited partners. Involving those partners in strategic discussions must be part of building the trust relationship. Vendors will view that engagement as enormously valuable and—while their engagement must be managed—the CIO should be able to reap real value from that. For example, they should be able to ensure their partners are able to deliver more quickly when they have lead time to understand the needs, goals, and priorities across the university.

Put people first—both employees and students

A final major challenge in this transition is creating a culture of opportunistic service delivery on their teams. People will be justifiably worried about their careers in an environment that mixes outsourced and insourced service provisioning. Deep technical staff—who are critically valuable to the delivery of services—are difficult to replace and are also highly portable in the job market. Clear communications about how sourcing decisions will be made, training plans, as well as engaging employees in this effort, need to be a part of the process. CIOs cannot manage this transition as a planning exercise. The people who are affected by the change need to be engaged in the changes or they will disappear. To be successful, a strong focus on people is going to be required.

This focus is not just for the internal IT team. Service consumers also need to be engaged in managing change. They need to be part of the discussion within IT. Users need to be empowered to deal with service delivery quality and they must be trusted. People who are trusted and accountable perform at higher levels. The users must be able to advocate for their needs and engage in delivering great solutions. IT teams must see themselves as partners with the students and staff who are jointly responsible for doing great work for their university.

Service Management Transition in the University: Three Keys to Success

EasyVista recently asked me to write about the evolution of service management in higher education. 

This is the third of four blogs on the topic of Transforming the University with IT Service Management.

For the CIO in transition to a Chief Services Provider, there are three keys to success: Speed and Continuity, Managing and Avoiding Risk, and Utilizing Service Management to Drive Value.

1. Speed and Continuity

Speed might seem obvious. Students, faculty, and other users expect services quickly. But it’s much more than that. The days are long gone when the holidays and school breaks allowed for downtime. Continuous uptime is the rule of the day and that means that speed is not just a function of service delivery, but of business continuity. If you need to make changes, the end user cannot tolerate downtime while you upgrade or migrate. This means we must be able to manage in parallel and redundant worlds.

What we call “hard cuts” are no longer acceptable; you cannot bring down one system and bring up another without disrupting vital services to end users and disappointing them in the process. It’s important to roll out new services in parallel and make systematic and incremental changes to the software. This has its roots in what used to be called CQI – Continuous Quality Improvement. Now we think of it as the Google model of software delivery.

Finding partners who already have solutions ready to go is the key to speed and quality without downtime. Turnkey solutions can be deployed quickly, creating a huge win, building trust and credibility, and helping gain support for new directions and tools. It’s critical that this initial win be as inexpensive as possible in order to create the largest impact, making it easier to sell the next great IT investment. A solid track record of successful, rapid service delivery deployments ensures cost will become less critical and ROI more readily available for campus IT.

2. Managing and Avoiding Risk

Managing and avoiding risk is a little more complex. By risk, we primarily mean how we manage the gap between the services we have and the services we need to have—including ensuring the successful deployment of improved services. Because our customers/business partners in higher education are tech-savvy and under substantial pressure to meet their own goals, they often have significant needs without cross-organizational prioritization. We have to consistently help them deliver better enrollment services systems, provide better data and reporting, and keep up with any other needs they have.

We cannot, of course, deliver every single new feature on Day One. And of course we have to solve the prioritization problem. Regardless of whether we source the changes internally or externally, we need to build and communicate a roll-out schedule for new features. This means making sure something rolls out regularly. If one feature is going to take six months and another three months, then you need to make it look like they are both being delivered as part of a regular cycle of upgrades. The challenge is managing the schedule so that customers are seeing steady, incremental changes. This means publishing a schedule in advance. It also means managing risk by working through user acceptance testing, strong usability and user experience testing, and involving your partner business units (and other IT units) in the deployment. You cannot expect to toss a ready-to-deploy update over to your customer services team the day before deployment and have them be ready to run with it. They need to be in the discussions during design and project startup and not just because that is necessary for them to be ready to support it—they might actually have some customer insights that would be helpful for your developers.

3. Utilizing Service Management to Drive Value

With the pressures of speed and risk, the need for help is clear. Utilizing external partners is already part of the fabric of service delivery. Using one that is very good at service management can be a game changer. By delivering new services quickly and with a partner that has already done the kind of testing necessary to make sure the tool works for academic audiences, you can achieve quick wins. More importantly, you can begin to change the conversation about service delivery away from just technology services and to more comprehensive views of services delivered on campus. A student, going to a mobile app to get help should be able to get help on all services, not just those provided by IT. Moreover, a service management partner can help with marketing, with making the value case for IT, and with the incrementalism necessary to deliver a steady stream of improvements that won’t overwhelm your customers.

Likewise, they may already know how to connect to institutional data stored in Banner, PeopleSoft, and Salesforce (among others). By leveraging this data to create more personalized service management and delivery, you will dramatically improve user satisfaction, although you may need to address data governance if that is not a topic already under discussion on your campus.

Revolutionizing the Student Experience with Service Management

EasyVista recently asked me to write about the evolution of service management in higher education. 

This is the second of four blogs on the topic of Transforming the University with IT Service Management. 

One of the keys to transforming the university is the move from multiple silos delivering services to finding ways to pull together single service areas. One of the most obvious of these is the call center. There is no reason for a student to have to call several different offices to solve an issue if the service management system is able to empower agents to handle any customer need.

The Modern, Tech Adept Student

Students have become more mobile and are completely comfortable with self-service tools. Users today have radically different needs from university IT than in the past and technology is partly to blame. They have grown up in a connected world with ubiquitous use of mobile phones and access to Wi-Fi. They are surprised, and even annoyed, when “technology” doesn’t work properly, or more correctly, or when what they need right now is not available at that moment (regardless of what device they are using). Being tech savvy consumers doesn’t mean those same students know what they “need” once they step foot onto the Campus. The challenge for IT is that unlike a traditional consumer, a student may not be fully aware of their needs or how to navigate the higher education experience. For example, a recent student survey at a large university indicated the number one concern students have is being able to access uninterrupted Wi-Fi from the parking lot to the classroom. From the university (and IT) perspective, uninterrupted Wi-Fi represents a very expensive proposition and is a much lower priority or concern.

Completely comfortable with mobile applications and technology, students are perfectly happy to use self-service tools like those provided by EasyVista. In fact, many prefer to use technology to mediate or replace human contact, making mobile apps ideal. Although students run the gamut from novice to bleeding edge, they all come with “consumerized” expectations. Students have an expectation of “here and now” based upon their experiences in their daily life. When they order something online, they want immediate delivery options whether picking it up in the store or receiving a delivery by the next day; they want to play a new game, it’s downloaded immediately; they want access to a new service, they can immediately signup and start using that service. On the other hand, if they need to get something done in their life “as a student” using the University system and it takes days for paperwork (physical or virtual) to flow through the system – it creates a disconnect between real life and student life. IT is closing the experience gap based upon the need for instantaneous access to the services students need at any time.

Grading Colleges on Success

University leadership is heavily focused on accountability for the success of the student both during their time in school and in their careers. This means that transforming the student experience—particularly those aspects that affect recruiting, retention and success—have very high priority. Delivering integrated, mobile-enabled, service management tools both improves the student experience and provides useful data for IT to ensure accountability (i.e. progress towards goals) is being well measured. With the federal government planning to rate colleges, and with legislators and parents worrying about cost, the pressure is on to create and provide metrics demonstrating “why Suzy just graduated with a mortgage-sized student loan and how that translates into the dollars she will need to pay back.” A final reason is more selfish. Universities coined the phrase “cradle to endowment” for a reason; It is important to cultivate both the donor and the life-long learner mentality. Once graduated, these same students become “prospects” for advanced degrees and season tickets.

Transforming Service Delivery in the University

So now the big question: How do we improve service management for students?

1. Mobile apps are a requirement for integrated IT services. IT departments need help deploying mobile apps and making information and data mobile aware. With resources in short supply, they are turning to service providers to help develop, manage and deploy these mobile applications, leveraging their economies of scale and commonalities in mobile app development.

2. Most service activities in higher education must be managed in common ways. This provides simplicity to the customer and reduces complexity for the service provider.

3. Apps must be intuitive and meet expectations on the first try. Student bodies are more diverse, more international, and more complex than ever before and being able to keep it simple while presenting the same service for different languages, cultures, and abilities is vital for success.

4. Universities cannot afford to have specialized help desks as they streamline and try to be more efficient. The same human or digital agent that solves the printer problem could be able to ensure a student’s parking issue is addressed, help them reserve a washing machine in the student laundry, or alert them to a financial aid issue. This requires not just great apps and strong CRM tools, but also great training and certification systems, while leveraging new social and crowdsourcing trends.

The Evolution from Higher Ed CIO to Chief Services Provider

EasyVista recently asked me to write about the evolution of service management in higher education. The article below was originally published on their web site and on my LinkedIn page.

This is the first of four blogs on the topic of Transforming the University with IT Service Management.

Higher Education’s IT departments are facing a shifting paradigm driven by changes in their customer base and in the capabilities of the market. Students, faculty, and staff have not been just users of IT services for some time—they are service consumers who obtain services themselves and are savvy enough to pull in outside providers if their internal IT organization can’t keep up with their requirements. Likewise, these service providers are capable of rapid deployments without extensive ramp up times and large scale capital investments.

CIOs: Evolution or Extinction

These two outside forces, service consumers and service providers, are combining to dramatically increase pressure on CIOs whose organizations are often stuck in outdated business practices. CIOs must be experts in the delivery of those legacy infrastructures and other services they have not (or cannot yet) move to commodity providers. They also need to be skillful at sourcing—negotiating, contracting, executing and managing service delivery—because their users don’t care where the service comes from, they just need everything to work. Furthermore, the need for new and better technology solutions, particularly those that improve customer service and success, is dramatically increasing demand on CIOs—creating virtually unlimited project portfolios.

To compound this issue, the pace of change has accelerated through BYOD, BYOA, mobility and consumerization. These trends have dramatically changed the model for delivering technology services from a centralized IT organization pushing technology decisions out, to working with users to define those same services. IT is racing just to keep up with savvy business units (and consumers), many that are now making their own technology decisions, using budgets once controlled exclusively by the CIO and IT.

We’ve all seen the changes in the CIO role coming for some time. CIOs have to become adept at strategizing what should be insourced and what should be outsourced. More importantly, they must become extraordinarily good at building, managing, and sustaining relationships with customers, vendors and their own teams. The IT engine they build now has no room for delays and failures as universities and colleges are completely dependent on technology. The thing that once made CIOs special—a unique understanding of technology—gives way to a shared understanding and reliance with sophisticated consumers. The ability to “control” technology and provide value by being the technical custodian of institutional computing resources and data is quickly diminishing.

All Hail the Chief Services Provider

All this points to a change in the core business of the CIO. No longer concerned solely with IT operations and technology management, the modern CIO is shifting focus to sourcing—balancing internally and externally sourced technology. This integrated services focus is less about managing the underlying technology infrastructure and more about matching technology services to service consumers. This role might also no longer be limited to just technology services. For example, why should the institution run multiple service desks if one group can do all of them really well? The more focused IT becomes on service integration, management and delivery, the greater the value it offers over its traditional services, which have largely become commodity services.

This new role of Chief Services Provider will retain many of the core CIO skills because many of the services needed will remain firmly rooted in technology and require an enterprise strategic view that transcends individual business units. Key integration points in providing services, and hence key efficiencies, can best be created by someone who can pull the threads together strategically and ensure each new integrated service is designed, developed, deployed and managed, faster and at lower overall cost to the institution using the right vendor or internal service unit. Skills such as relationship management are now paramount to the success of the CIO, along with a deeper understanding of both sides of the IT value chain—service providers and service consumers. The future of the CIO and the IT organization is to be the bridge between service providers and service consumers, aligning institutional goals, demands on speed of access, and service provider technology. CIOs now need to be able to take a dynamic set of resources from the marketplace (or internally), integrate them, and provide services on demand—within days in some cases. And provide those services within an easy to use, self-service style application, available to everyone, regardless of the device being used.