A challenge for higher ed IT organizations today is addressing the explosive growth in demand, more and more technology dependencies, and the development of sustainable IT funding models at a time when budgets are extremely challenged.
Many organizations defer IT upgrades and replacements if they can. While frugal, such a strategy can put the organization at significant risk. If IT systems and equipment updates are deferred, they become more vulnerable to security threats. It is difficult to find expertise on retro-technologies when careers are built on looking ahead, to emerging IT. Vendors retire support for older products to make room for new. These factors all pose increasing risks to organizations that are highly dependent on those technologies.
Another challenge is the historical trend that funds new IT and equipment upgrades with capital funds. Capital is (relatively) easier to find than adding to base-levels of operating budgets. The challenge for IT is that given the life cycles of IT and systems, systems and equipment we install today will need to be upgraded/renewed in 3-6 years from now. Capital today alleviates the current problem but defers downstream costs at peril. A more forward-looking strategy is to operationalize these costs through leasing and scheduled replacement/renewal.
IT can and should be a strategic enabler of the organization’s mission. It’s also the cost of doing higher ed business.