A quick glance at the EDUCAUSE 2017 Top 10 IT Issues reveals something quite interesting: three of those Top 10 IT Issues—Strategic Leadership (#4), Sustainable Funding (#5), and Sustainable Staffing (#8)—have more to do with leading an organization in uncertain times than with technology per se. Sustainability in funding and in staffing are clearly important challenges for any successful IT organization to meet, as is strategic leadership: "repositioning or reinforcing the role of IT leadership as a strategic partner with institutional leadership."But what exactly does this mean?
Two other 2017 Top 10 IT Issues – Student Success and Completion (#2) and Higher Education Affordability (#7)—provide some hints. Student success and completion—often measured by GPAs, retention and graduation rates, career placement, and earning potential— is the primary concern of today's higher education, which has begun to operate more like a big business than an institution for public good. The increase in jobs that require postsecondary credential is generating more demand for higher education. Combined with rising student debt, this growing demand makes higher education affordability even more critical. In this context, we can see that these two issues apply to higher education in general, not just to its IT groups. Colleges and universities are trying to leverage their IT organizations in order to successfully tackle these issues.
These two issues also present an informative backdrop for three other Top 10 IT issues: Data-Informed Decision Making (#3), Data Management and Governance (#6), and Digital Transformation of Learning (#10). The EDUCAUSE survey results show that higher education IT organizations are venturing into new areas such as business intelligence, reporting, and data analytics. Colleges and universities are asking their IT groups to be involved in big data analytics in support of data-informed decision making. It is in this context that proper institutional data management and governance becomes important. The survey results also reveal the expectation for higher education IT groups to be more closely involved in the digital transformation of learning by collaborating with faculty and academic leadership.