Technology has become foundational in every aspect of university and college life. Records, communication, and processes, both simple and complex, are all dependent on the technological backbone of the campus. And with stricter federal regulations about how that technology is managed, schools can no longer afford to wait until they have dollars and resources to act.
Here’s the latest on the six biggest IT issues facing today’s campuses:
1. Staying Secure
In 2017, a Russian hacker intentionally targeted 63 U.S. universities and attempted to sell the stolen data on the dark web. Rather than being an isolated case, it was just one of 539 such university breaches since 2005. Big-name schools like Harvard, Penn State, and the University of Maryland are among the victims, and over 13 million known records have been affected.
So rampant is the problem that one 2018 study named information security as one of the top IT issues for 2018. The collaborative environment, spirit of openly sharing information, free campus WiFi, and data-rich records of colleges and universities make them a prime target for hackers. Some estimates find that higher ed now accounts for as much as 17% of all cyber breaches.
Likewise, service segmentation cannot be overlooked. Choosing a decoupled web content management system (CMS) where content is separated from design provides an extra layer of security since they aren’t physically stored in the same place. When your website goes down, your CMS is still safe, and conversely, if your CMS has issues, your website is still up and running.
2. Unified Campus IT
Because every department is governed and audited a different way, it is understandable that centralizing every IT function into a single department might not make sense for your school. However, understanding and protecting data campus-wide, not to mention your workflows, is impossible if every department has its own technology agenda.
A unified IT governance model and standardization of IT policies and systems will help your institution operate smoothly. In turn, such efficiency reduces security breaches and creates an interconnected system for safe, efficient data flow.
3. System Scalability
Gone are the days when a school could cobble together a network and see results. Without a scalable, extensible system across multiple applications and platforms, your digital presence can’t grow with your institution.
Again, a decoupled CMS can solve this issue. Because the resources needed to perform CMS functions are separated from the resources serving the content part of your website, the decoupled CMS can handle the ever-increasing workload from a demanding digital publishing environment without slowing your website.
4. Decentralized Data Storage
Cloud products save your institution’s finite resources allowing your IT resources to be strategically focused. They provide another layer of security and privacy since data is not physically stored on campus, rather it is stored in multiple redundant places. Data is accessed quicker and requires no additional resources to maintain.
5. Executive Level Tech Representation
A knowledgeable administrator at the highest level who can explain, reinforce, and push through an IT agenda is critical to an institution’s continued growth. When the stakes are high, decisions are even harder to make. Having someone at the decision-making level who understands IT is crucial to having the right systems in place.
If your team is mired in indecision, take a step back and employ the DACI framework:
D = Driver: the person responsible for the entire project
A = Approver: the person who makes the final decision
C = Contributors: people with expertise who can influence the decision
I = Informed: people who will be informed of the final decision
6. Student Experience
There is a simple truth to your digital presence: If students don’t like it, they won’t come back. Split-second responsiveness, interactive forms, different ways to access information (blogs, videos, chats), and accessibility to your campus website across all platforms are the difference in strong student engagement.
That said, colleges and universities are bimodal environments, where systems of record prize accuracy, analysis, and reputation as compared to systems of engagement where responsiveness, speed, and innovation occur. Together, they require balancing engagement and experience with accuracy and performance in delivery. A CMS should effectively support both of these efforts at your institution.
Putting together a request for proposal (RFP) for a new CMS? Check out these IT Question to Ask Before Submitting an RFP for a Higher Ed CMS.
Our new guide Choosing the Right Campus CMS can also get you on the right track.