“Digital evolution” is key to the IT organization of the future

Published October 2, 2019

A research scientist at UB.

UBIT’s latest strategic report begins with a question: what will the campus of 2030 look like?

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A particularly relevant question for an IT organization, it’s something that comes to my mind every fall when our newest cohort of students arrive on campus. Today’s freshmen have never known a time before Wi-Fi, and their personal strategies for problem solving and success require access to information in real-time.

Real-time data has also never been more important to the institution. At UB, we’re investing in tools for faster monitoring and reporting on student outcomes, leveraging predictive technology to intervene with at-risk students sooner.

In IT, as elsewhere, the only constant is change. The way technology is changing today may look in a few short years more like a digital evolution, in which the possibilities—and the expectations—have shifted dramatically.

So what, then, will the IT organization of 2030 look like? Simply put: we must evolve too.

Today we’re building an “always on” infrastructure, and enabling collaboration anywhere on a growing web of devices with cloud-based services like UBbox, Panopto and Webex. Tomorrow one might imagine these offerings coalescing into a highly personalized digital platform that anticipates the needs of our students, staff and faculty, and provides them with the tools and data they need, when and where they need them.

Between then and now, we need to think carefully about how to balance our energies between today’s critical tools and tomorrow’s promise. Evolution will demand skills from our workforce that we have not yet developed. None of us is immune—even the role of the CIO will evolve in the coming years—but at UB, our IT staff are highly adaptable and, drawn to higher education, eager to learn and grow. 

Importantly, we need to continue working with university leadership and the campus community, to leverage their perspectives and expertise as we navigate the evolution. Because the decisions we make in the coming years aren’t just IT decisions. They affect everyone. 

That’s why, over the coming months, I’ll be talking more about this evolution and its potential impact on our organization, our people, even myself. While the future cannot be known, we see its reflection in the shifting trends of today. And recognizing and anticipating those trends today, together, will help us succeed tomorrow.

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