Is Higher Ed the Real Focal Point of ITSM Evolution?

Universities and colleges have not necessarily been the most commonly discussed organizations in conversations related to IT modernization and advancement, at least not from an operational management standpoint. After all, the public sector, health care industry and manufacturing arenas have stolen much of the spotlight through their use of and innovation in technology deployments, management and advancement. 

When schools, notably higher education facilities, enter into the discussion, it is most likely about what administrators should be doing to help students better learn technology and enter the workforce with the right level of knowledge to succeed. This is certainly important, especially for the overall economy, but it is only one piece of a much larger puzzle when it comes to IT service management and delivery. 

Higher education organizations are not often under the same types of stringent compliance requirements that would be seen in financial services or medical-related companies, but they are still very much in need of consistent technological upgrades given the digital demands of the modern student body. Schools, even those that are not-for-profit, have to find ways to attract new students each year to remain relevant and successful over time. 

On the flip side of that coin, administrative employees and professors also pose challenges by way of IT service delivery and management, as the diversity and range of experience with modern technology are vast. Decision-makers, notably chief information officers, in the higher education arena should work to keep pace with the evolution of technology before falling behind, as this can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of ITSM strategies. 

Here are a few matters to keep on the radar. 

Education in the age of mobility
Mobile devices, notably smartphones and tablets, have already become popular in all levels of education, while universities and colleges have been at the forefront of using these tools to improve their performance. Considering the fact that a growing majority of consumers – and subsequently students – are bringing their smartphones and tablets to class or even using them to complete their core responsibilities, mobility management and service delivery should be priorities within ITSM strategies. 

Security, privacy and support are likely the three most important matters to keep in mind when approaching mobility in higher education, and ironing out each of these aspects can be made easy with the right types of technologies and guidance. 

The social media conundrum
Social media can either be a source of performance improvement and modernization, or a serious threat to the privacy and livelihoods of students and faculty members. For example, some schools have taken innovative approaches to social media management, guiding students through proper practices, teaching them of the dangers and leveraging the actual channels to expand upon collaboration capabilities at a low cost. 

With respect to the less-desirable outcomes of social media, though, some schools have seen their students get themselves in trouble with activities through these websites, or have run into issues with privacy rights of those individuals and the faculty. 

Notably, social media will often be left out of the ITSM equation in higher education, as well as businesses at large, but considering the power and risk that come with these resources, CIOs must take a more proactive approach to managing and supporting users. 

Online education
This is not necessarily a cutting-edge aspect of modern higher education, but many schools have been advancing their digital class offerings amid increasing demand from students of all ages. Much like mobility's demands on the average university or college, online education comes with a variety of challenges from an administrative and management standpoint. 

For example, tracking and monitoring activity is critical to ensure students are moving through the programs responsibly and morally, which can be difficult when so many channels are being used to access the relevant accounts. Additionally, failing to adequately support and oversee the backend systems running these courses and making them available to students can lead to disruptions and hindered engagement. 

Imagine taking a course for two months online, finally reaching that exam at the end and being thrown off by an unforeseen outage, then having to go through the rigmarole of re-testing. This is beyond frustrating, and can be avoided when decision-makers invest in the right technologies. 

Choosing the right angle
These and many more considerations can be difficult to comprehend and manage among higher education leaders who are just beginning to work out modernization efforts. These decision-makers should remember that ITSM in higher education is a double-edged sword – as it can either represent significant risk or exceptional rewards depending upon the diligence and general effort in planning. 

As always, leaders should recognize when they need support, whether for implementation services, long-term management, optimization or general guidance, for ITSM objectives, and work to partner with proven providers such as Aptris to get the ball rolling in the right direction.