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Higher Education Strategic Foresight Trends Report

Push against headwinds to advance institutional transformation.

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  • The role of the CIO in Higher Education is becoming increasingly important. However, the traditional hierarchy of academic institutions still limits the stature of the CIO.
  • During the pandemic, IT was called upon to maintain continuity of the organization. Now leadership is again turning to IT to support digital transformation. With the continual demands to do more, IT is gaining a seat at the table, albeit fitfully.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

Driven by demand, many technology trends have accelerated but so have the CIO’s pain points:

  • Challenges to meet the requirements of faculty and administration in the face of the pandemic
  • Demands to keep up with the change in student expectations
  • Supporting the increased workload in the IT department

Impact and Result

Info-Tech’s approach focuses on an analyst’s investigation of strategic foresight. Use the trends report to:

  • Gain perspective on what is happening in the wider industry environment.
  • Determine which strategic initiatives are most likely to lead to success on an industry level.
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Higher Education Strategic Foresight Trends Report Research & Tools

Start Here – Read the Executive Brief.

Read our concise Executive Brief to understand the changing IT landscape in Higher Education and discover what technology needs to be budgeted and met by CIOs.

1. Security Is Survival – Learn about the current security approaches adopted by the industry.

As endpoints grow and the perimeter recedes, IT must employ new approaches to secure the institution. This trend will help you make protection frictionless.

2. New Workplace/New Learning Space – Learn about the benefits and challenges of hybrid learning and working environments.

The ways in which we teach, learn, and work are evolving, and IT needs to keep abreast of the changes in technology and preferences. This trend will help you meet the expectations of learners.

3. Recoding Organizational DNA – Learn about the demands and challenges of cloud adoption in higher education.

As cloud-based systems become the norm, we need to consider not only whether the institution is ready, but the industry as a whole. This trend explores technology-driven transformation.

4. Reducing the Burden – Learn how digital technologies are delivering institutional value.

Innovation is the key for institutions to stay competitive in the changing landscape. IT can be a partner in this innovation.

This trend will help you with value-driven modernization.

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Advance Institutional Transformation

Higher Education Strategic Foresight Report

Analyst Perspective

Piloting through disruptive times

The role of the CIO in Higher Education is becoming increasingly important. However, the traditional hierarchy of academic institutions still limits the stature of the CIO. During the pandemic, IT was called upon to maintain continuity of the organization. Now leadership is again turning to IT to support digital transformation. With the continual demands to do more, IT is gaining a seat at the table, albeit fitfully.

Driven by demand, many technology trends have accelerated, but so have the CIO’s pain points. There are the challenges meeting the requirements of faculty and administration in the face of the pandemic; there are the demands to keep up with the change in student expectations; and there is the increased workload in the IT department. Despite these challenges, it is IT’s role to help their institution adopt technologies and processes with an eye to their long-term technical and security impacts.

Info-Tech’s approach focuses on an analyst’s investigation of strategic foresight, a methodology that helps the IT department and the institution gain perspective on what is happening in the wider industry environment. As a methodology, strategic foresight flows from the identification of signals to clustering the signals together to form trends and uncover what is driving the trends to determine which strategic initiatives are most likely to lead to success on an industry level.

Mark Maby

Research Director for Education, Industry Practice Info-Tech Research Group

Education lags other sectors in a digital strategy

The use of digital technologies has increased over the past five years. Between 2018 and 2021 the global average, across all sectors, increased from 22% reported excellence in use of digital technologies to 41% (Harvey Nash).

Education is the lowest of all sectors in effective use of digital technologies. However, it is only two or three years behind the global average.

This report will present the trends where Higher Education is pushing against the headwinds to advance institutional strategies through digital technologies.

The image shows a horizontal bar graph titled Effective use of digital technologies. It shows that Technology and Telecommunications are the top sectors in effective use of digital technologies, and education is at the bottom with approx. 30%.

The trade-off for technology in Higher Education

52% - Education institutions with an IT budget increase in 2021

53% - Education institutions with an IT staffing increase in 2021

8% - Percentage of overall revenue spent on technology by institutions in the Education sector in 2021 (By comparison, Healthcare and Government spent 14% on technology)

(Source: Harvey Nash Group, 2021)

“Every dollar that we put towards an [enterprise technology], is a dollar that doesn’t go to the classroom. It doesn’t go to a faculty member, it doesn’t go to a field station where students are doing research, it doesn’t go to training faculty to do better online courses. These are really not technology decisions. They’re financial decisions or institutional decisions.” – Michael Berman, CIO of the California State University System (Source: Smalley)

By maturing its core services, IT can shift to being a business partner with the institution

IT in Higher Education currently has a higher-than-average satisfaction score compared to other industries. However, in order to truly increase on the maturity scale, the institution itself will need to adjust its priorities. Analytics and innovation are low in satisfaction and low in priority. This is a challenge industry wide. Even a core service such as the applications used in teaching and learning has a low priority. It’s imperative for IT in Higher Ed to coordinate with key stakeholders on a shared vision of the institution’s future and IT’s role in it.

79% - Average stakeholder satisfaction score for Higher Education

Core IT Service Stakeholder Priority Stakeholder Satisfaction
Analytic Capability & Reports 11 63.8%
Classroom Technology 6 75.2%
Courseware & Learning Mgmt. 9 73.2%
IT Innovation Leadership 10 68.3%

90%+ Satisfaction - INNOVATOR - Information and Technology as a Competitive Advantage

80% Satisfaction - BUSINESS PARTNER - Effective Delivery of Strategic Business Projects

70% Satisfaction - TRUSTED OPERATOR - Enablement of Business Through Applications and Work Orders

60% Satisfaction - FIREFIGHTER - Reliable Infrastructure and IT Service Desk

<60% Satisfaction - UNSTABLE - Inability to Consistently Deliver Basic Services

Modernization elements

Underlying many of the trends are certain modernization elements. Some of the trends provide a deeper look into critical aspects of these elements, while others assume their establishment and build upon them.

Artificial Intelligence

AI is the ability for machines to simulate intelligent human behavior. Dependent on both algorithms and data, AI can interpret information to identify patterns. Some of the ways in which colleges and universities are using AI is to support student and prospective-student inquiries on the website. The goal is to behave in a similar way to how a human would.

Internet of Things

IoT is a constellation of connected devices with embedded sensors providing real-time information to an application layer. IoT describes the enhanced connectivity we now experience with everyday devices and appliances that would not typically boast such capabilities. Many institutions are already using IoT; however, their number is expected to increase rapidly with the introduction of 5G.

Big Data

Big data is rapidly increasing amounts of data generated by multiple sources in many formats. To gain actionable insights, the data must be analyzed. Higher Education can capitalize on the information about students to drive recruitment, drive retention initiatives, and better meet the expectations of students. Both IoT and AI depend on big data to function at optimal levels.

Advanced Wireless

Two connectivity methods gaining visibility are 5G and Wi-Fi 6. As devices continue to proliferate on campus, and as IoT devices increase in their capabilities, Higher Education will require a strong technology infrastructure. In fact, having strong Wi-Fi is a top technology priority of faculty and students alike.

Four driving trends

Info-Tech’s strategic foresight for technology to support Higher Education flows from the identification of technology signals to categorically clustering the signals together to form the following impactful trends:

Security is survival

Make protection frictionless

As endpoints grow and the perimeter recedes, IT must employ new approaches to secure the institution.

New workplace/new learning space

Meeting the expectations of learners

The way in which we teach, learn, and work is evolving, and IT needs to keep abreast of the changes in technology and preferences.

Recoding organizational DNA

Technology-driven transformation

As cloud-based systems become the norm, we need to consider not only whether the institution is ready, but the industry as a whole.

Reducing the burden

Value-driven modernization

Innovation is the key for institutions to stay competitive in the changing landscape. IT can be a partner in this innovation.

Leveraging the trends report as a key input

Higher Education Strategic Trends Report

Trends Report

As part of your next steps checklist, leverage this trends report for priorities that drive measurable top-line organizational outcomes and the unlocking of direct value.

Digital strategy & IT Strategy

IT Strategy | Digital Strategy

Info-Tech’s Define Your Digital Business Strategy and Build a Business-Aligned IT Strategy blueprints give you the tools you need to effectively process signals in your environment, build an understanding of relevant trends, and turn this understanding into action. This will help you establish a structured approach to innovation management that considers external trends as well as internal processes.

Developing the trends radar

Develop a holistic industry view of trends

Before implementing trend technologies, you need a holistic understanding of how they will impact higher education institutions at an industry level.

Info-Tech evaluated the trend opportunities through a set of higher education drivers:

  • Institutional Growth & Sustainability
  • Risk & Resilience
  • Operational Excellence & Responsibility
  • Instructional & Research Value
  • Brand Impact & Community Engagement

Drivers are fundamental to building plausible scenarios that could arise from adopting a given trend. These value drivers are used to understand what is or is not driving a particular trend. This is achieved by identifying the value drivers for each trend as weak, medium, strong, or superior.

Value drivers for Higher Education

Institutional Growth & Sustainability

Drives sustainable growth, diversifies methods of generating revenue and decreasing costs, and increases student/institutional market reach.

Operational Excellence & Responsibility

Provides transparency in the flow of value to the students and faculty, empowers administrative staff, and promotes teamwork, while strengthening its position on social responsibility.

Instructional & Research Value

Enhances the experience of students and faculty in their studies. It also supports the funding, development, and dissemination of academic and applied research.

Risk & Resilience

Mitigates and withstands rapid changes across the IT landscape, secures student and academic information while protecting personal and institutional information, and easily integrates with current technologies, projects, and strategies.

Brand Impact & Community Engagement

Differentiates the institution from competitors to external communities and supports strategic priorities.

How each trend measures against the value drivers for Higher Education

Value Drivers for Higher Education
Security is Survival New Workplace/ New Learning Space Recoding Organizational DNA Reducing the Burden
Institutional Growth & Sustainability Medium Strong Strong Strong
Risk & Resilience Superior Medium Strong Medium
Operational Excellence & Responsibility Medium Weak Superior Strong
Instructional & Research Value Strong Superior Medium Weak
Brand Impact & Community Engagement Weak Strong Medium Medium

How to read this trend report

Each trend contains the following sections

Description Each trend is introduced with a description and statistics, highlighting its growth and impact.
Technology signals A signal of technological change (consumer, competitive, or otherwise) that indicates a divergence from the status quo.
Value drivers for Higher Education An analysis of the 360-degree view of value drivers that will be impacted both positively and negatively upon the implementation of this trend.
Benefits A summary of benefits that could be achieved from an institutional and human perspective through the successful adoption of these technologies.
Risks A summary of risks and critical unknowns that could be realized from an institutional and human perspective through the adoption of these technologies.
Case study A real-life illustrative example demonstrating a higher education institution’s implementation and use of each trend.
Member resources & recommendations Info-Tech's recommendation on how to move forward when embracing these trends and a list of material that will assist your organization with understanding and adopting these technologies.

Works Cited

Harvey Nash. “Harvey Nash Group Digital Leadership Report.” Harvey Nash Group, 2021.

Smalley, Suzanne. “Student Information System Difficulties Frustrate Universities.” Inside Higher Ed, 11 Jan. 2022.

STRATEGIC FORESIGHT TREND 1

Security Is Survival

Make protection frictionless

Security is survival

Make protection frictionless

There really is no security perimeter anymore. Boundaries have become blurred as institutional staff work from anywhere, and services such as cloud technologies can come from anywhere. Transition to zero trust is being discussed because it creates an IT world of self-defending data. It creates a world where no access is trusted and must always be verified for every service touched. Trust is driven by internal data domain definition of boundaries, not by external demand. Access is limited and controlled through authentication and role, which demands a thoroughly modern IAM system.

$447k was the average cost of a ransomware attack in Higher Ed in 2020. (BlueVoyant, 2021)

$3.79m was the average cost of a data breach in the Education sector in 2021. (IBM Security, 2021)

$3.61m was the average cost of a breach in hybrid cloud environments in 2021. (IBM Security, 2021)

Only 28% of Higher Ed respondents felt that their cybersecurity team had the necessary cloud vendor management policies and procedures fully in place. (Educause, “QuickPoll Results,” 2021)

66% of universities lack the DNS-based email security protocols to reduce phishing attacks. (BlueVoyant, 2021)

Technology signals

SECURITY IS SURVIVAL

Signals of technological change (consumer, competitive, or otherwise) that indicate a divergence from the status quo.

Before After
API gateways: LTI and other API connections allow instructors to expand the tools offered by the LMS to suit their specific pedagogic needs. API gateways: LMS and other cloud-based apps invite API use through plugins creating security threats.
Perimeter controls such as firewalls and web application firewalls were designed to block unsanctioned incoming traffic. Computer access security broker (CASB): With the increase in XaaS technologies, active data custodianship of information is no longer stored on the institution’s managed platform and requires visibility and control that a CASB solution can bring.
DNS: The Domain Name System (DNS) is used to identify computers, services, and other resources through IP networks. It is one of the few protocols that crosses organizational network perimeters (Security Intelligence, 2021). DNS: With 5G, the number of network connections will double every four years (IoT Analytics, 2018), making a zero trust framework an increasingly important proposition. DNS security allows a state of continuous verification that zero trust aims to achieve.

Info-Tech Insight

Technology cannot protect us. We have learned that guaranteed security is impossible, and even good security is extraordinarily expensive. Most move to a risk vs. benefit assessment for all investments.

Value drivers

WHAT IS DRIVING THIS TREND IN HIGHER EDUCATION?

Institutional growth and sustainability

Many institutions continue to run an extraordinarily wide variety of technologies and vendor solutions, leaving them with a broad attack surface. A zero trust strategy is the only viable solution for such a heterogeneous environment. The basis of a strong zero trust framework going forward will allow for safer cloud migration as well as a better implementation of on- campus technology such as IoT devices for energy efficiency.

Risk & resilience

There are more risks than there is money. Institutions have a massive list of security improvements they need to make and not enough funding or resources to implement all the changes needed. IT organizations need to develop prioritization criteria in collaboration with senior leadership, then rank security investments by those criteria and implement changes as security project portfolio.

Operational excellence & responsibility

APIs themselves are a key component of automation; they are often a simple solution to reducing manual aspects of administrative workflows. The challenge is that in a federated model, IT administrators at various schools could make the decision to allow API gateways prior to centralization.

Institutional Growth & Sustainability - Medium

Risk & Resilience - Superior

Operational Excellence & Responsibility - Medium

Instructional & Research Value - Strong

Brand Impact & Community Engagement - Weak

Value drivers

WHAT IS DRIVING THIS TREND IN HIGHER EDUCATION?

Instructional and research value

LTIs (learning technology interoperability, the APIs for an LMS) have instructional value for faculty. They allow instructors to better customize their hybrid instructional environment to the specific pedagogic needs of their courses. Security restrictions will seem out of place to many instructors when the LTIs they wish to install are coming from a reputable source. A frictionless method of approval and installation will be an important way to smooth any ruffled feathers.

Brand impact & community engagement

Institutions thrive and grow based on strong reputations. By mitigating security risks, private data is protected and confidence in the institution is created.

There are many API integrations for Slack and other business communication platforms that facilitate better communication with the community members of the institution. This further supports the need of good standards and policies around the adoption of new connections to the network. Furthermore, a public security incident can negatively affect the public’s view of the institution, which may have a direct effect on the ability to win institutional and academic grants.

Institutional Growth & Sustainability - Medium

Risk & Resilience - Superior

Operational Excellence & Responsibility - Medium

Instructional & Research Value - Strong

Brand Impact & Community Engagement - Weak

Benefits

SECURITY IS SURVIVAL

Data loss prevention

The security of an organization extends well beyond the firewall. Identifying what data is going out, where it’s going, and being able to take policy-based action in response is a key requirement. Discovery and uncovering shadow IT activities requires knowledge of all cloud services used – sanctioned or not.

Threat protections

With nation-states attempting to steal IP and research, and with criminal organizations attempting to monetize breaches, threat protection has become essential to the survival of institutions.

Data repositories in the cloud represent opportunities for malicious attack. CASBs learn from regular activity and can detect unusual behavior and take prescribed action. CASBs can use threat intelligence knowledge bases to identify and block incoming threats from the cloud.

Benefits

SECURITY IS SURVIVAL

Compliance

Government privacy legislation around the world is increasing in response to abuse by technology companies and social media vendors. Compliance with the growing complexity and expectations of these laws is becoming a non-trivial challenge for institutional IT. From privacy impact analyses to contractual risk schedules, IT is expected to deliver new compliance services without commensurate increases in staffing.

Compliance obligations for residency and data handling require full visibility into the data landscape. The ability to attach data handling policies consistent with internal networks assurance compliance across anything as a service (XaaS). Network segmentation and data flow analysis are key parts of compliance and scope minimization. Visibility into all cloud activity is a must.

Risks & uncertainties

SECURITY IS SURVIVAL

Multiple security bodies

There are several different security bodies with overlapping areas of interest, which creates challenges for the CIO/CISO to make coherent/consistent decisions. The security requirements not only overlap, but they also create contradictions when cloud data crosses jurisdictional boundaries.

Disposable technology

APIs are disposable technology. Their security certificates are often left to expire, and security upgrades are infrequent to non-existent. They pose significant security flaws for an organization, and their number is expected to increase substantially with the introduction of 5G technology.

Case Study

Default-deny for university access

Industry: Higher Education

Source: Interview

Challenge

A large research university suffered a security breach and there remained 30,000 computers needing to be patched and updated.

There had been a security breach at a large research university, and personal identifiable information had been compromised. When the new CISO entered the role, he found that the initial solution was a bit of a black box. In response to the breach, IT applied an NSX security model with micro-segmentation, an east-west firewall on top of the north-south firewall, bastion host entrance, and restricted access. However, it was hard to use because no one had a good idea of what ports were needed. Furthermore, there was no chance of automating the access to the servers because the infrastructure team hadn’t applied the university’s data governance model. With 40,000 computers on the network and only 10,000 of them patched and updated, the new CISO couldn’t wait.

Case Study

Default-deny for university access

Industry: Higher Education

Source: Interview

Solution

The solution was to set up a default-deny environment using entirely manual processes. The first step was to define what VMware refers to as business groups, such as the School of Business. A few IT people were assigned to each of the specific business groups, and they would allow access to the servers on a case-by-case basis. Despite not being dynamic but involving manual processes, the speed at which access was granted was not that slow. At most there might have been a little back and forth for confirmation regarding why access was requested.

The default-deny environment is similar to zero trust with the specific distinction that this approach is based on manual access. IT can use the users’ roles to identify them as candidates for access, but approval is ultimately a decision for the administrator. People can get to the website, but the database, the application servers, are protected by east-west and north-south firewalls. The university started with locking down those data centers and focused on enterprise and administrative applications. The next step in the future roll-out will be to define what the remaining roles are and how much access each role should have. Students who are not employees will be taken off the main network and moved on to a VLAN, as will faculty and staff who don’t have a managed computer.

Case Study

Default-deny for university access

Industry: Higher Education

Source: Interview

Results

Proven security against the Log4Shell exploit, which elsewhere had caused great concern.

The result so far has been very positive. There is a stronger awareness of both the need for security and for the rationale behind the security solutions. Curiously, some software vendors have had to ask IT what ports their systems should be using. The vendors were used to having free rein over the servers. So much so that they had to ask if IT could maybe tell them what ports to use. Confirmation of the strength of the new security framework came with the Log4Shell vulnerability. This exploit was discovered in November 2021 and the Apache Software Foundation assigned it the maximum CVSS severity rating of 10. However, Log4Shell did not cause any issues for the university. By default, communication through the outbound port was denied, preventing the execution of the exploit.

Recommendations

Security is survival

  • Identify security pain points in your current applications and development process, and build a framework around these gaps.
  • Develop strong partnerships with faculty-based IT on security policies, ideally through a federated model.
  • Adoption of a default-deny framework will provide a secure foundation in a world where the security perimeter is no longer a defined boundary.

INFO-TECH RESOURCES

Bibliography

“Cost of a Data Breach Report 2021.” IBM Security, 8 Sept. 2021.

“Cybersecurity in Higher Education Report by BlueVoyant.” BlueVoyant, 23 Feb. 2021.

Kelly, Brian. “2021 EDUCAUSE Horizon Report: Information Security Edition.” Educause, 2021. Web

Lee, Chenta. “Zero Trust and DNS Security: Better Together.” Security Intelligence, 16 Dec. 2021.

Lueth, Knud Lasse. “State of the IoT 2018: Number of IoT Devices Now at 7B – Market Accelerating.” IoT Analytics, 8 Aug. 2018.

McCormack, Mark, et al. “2021 EDUCAUSE Horizon Action Plan: Privacy.” Educause, 19 Nov. 2021. Web.

---. “EDUCAUSE QuickPoll Results: The Cybersecurity Workforce.” Educause, 14 May 2021. Accessed 14 Jan. 2022.

Pitchkites, Max, and Elisabeth Ivey. “26 Cyber Security Statistics, Facts & Trends in 2022.” Cloudwards, 28 Oct. 2021.

Rockall, Will, et al. “Zero Trust: A Revolutionary Approach to Cyber or Just Another Buzz Word?” Deloitte, 2021.

STRATEGIC FORESIGHT TREND 2

New Workplace/New Learning Space

Meeting the expectations of learners

New workplace/ new learning space

Meeting the expectations of learners

The new technology driven hybrid teaching and learning experience is generating inconsistent experiences and results. Proper multi-modal teaching is proving to be an increased burden on faculty. Teaching synchronously and asynchronously also creates differentiated quality of learning experiences for students.

66% of HEIs have increased faculty participation in critical areas of professional development. (Educause, “Assessment and Learning Design,” 2021)

70% of HEIs have increased outreach between faculty and instructional design staff. (Educause, “Assessment and Learning Design,” 2021)

The image shows a graph titled Students' learning environment preferences. The bar graph is divided into two categories: Pre/Early Pandemic and Fall 2020. Each category is divided into 4 bars, as represented by a legend: dark blue is completely or mostly F2F; medium blue is half and half or hybrid; light blue is completely or mostly online; and the hatched blue is student's choice. In pre/early pandemic, F2F is the largest option. In Fall 2020, the #1 choice is Completely or mostly online.

(Pre/Early Pandemic data source: Educause, “Technology Use,” 2020)

(Fall 2020 data source: Educause, “Student Experiences,” 2021)

The graphs show that before and early in the pandemic, students’ learning environment preferences were decidedly for face-to-face classes. By Fall 2020, the preference had flipped towards online learning.

This is a surprising change. There were some differences between the two surveys in the respondents and the choices offered; however, the preference seems to be shifting towards a more online world for education.

Technology signals

NEW WORKPLACE/NEW LEARNING SPACE

Signals of technological change (consumer, competitive or otherwise) that indicate a divergence from the status quo.

Before After
Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) was originally used to manage labs on campus to minimize burden. It then became a way for students and faculty to access applications that were otherwise restricted due to licensing. Digital workspace: Students and faculty can now access different environments dynamically based on their program requirements. A specific environment maintains the files and settings from semester to semester, protecting intellectual property and recording time.
Co-op and work experience programs used to be managed using tools created in-house, which often began to show their limitations. Work experience engagement platform: New work-experience platforms are cloud-based and not only manage the students’ co-op engagement, but also act as matchmakers between professors with students and organizations with jobs.
Cloud collaboration tools such as video conference, chat services, and collaborative documents have been an optional tool for many years which received only gradual adoption in Higher Education. The pandemic has made a necessity of cloud collaboration tools, and institutions are now turning to instructional designers to optimize the educational environment.

Technology signals

NEW WORKPLACE/NEW LEARNING SPACE

Signals of technological change (consumer, competitive or otherwise) that indicate a divergence from the status quo.

Before After
Laboratories and simulators were often implemented by Higher Education institutions to offer controlled training experiences outside of on-site clinical or industry settings. XR (X-Reality, AR/VR/MR) are being used to offer cost-efficient training experiences that are more easily upgraded with the changes in the industry.
For over a hundred years, Higher Education has relied on formal, written examinations conducted on campus as the standard method to assess learning achievement. Digital assessment: As assessment is now being delivered through digital means, the standards of assessment themselves are being questioned.

WHAT IS DRIVING THIS TREND IN HIGHER EDUCATION?

Value drivers

Institutional growth and sustainability

Technology is enabling HEIs to grow without expanding their physical footprint and thus minimizing any increased burden on the natural environment. In terms of business growth, the technologies offer tactical benefits that depend on the specific institution’s business strategy. For example, the VDI tools to enable the digital workspace can help account for both time and IP with high-profile research projects, while work experience platforms support the growth of the institution by adding work experience options for students.

Risk & resilience

Some of the technologies, such as a digital workspace through VDI, do indeed support greater security for student and academic information, and XR technologies promise greater physical security to faculty and students in training for physically dangerous tasks. However, many of these technologies bring with them their own security and privacy concerns. The intrusive nature of digital assessment tools encouraged a public debate over the ethics of their monitoring and recording features.

Operational excellence & responsibility

The tools for a digital workspace and for work experience provide value to students, and cloud collaboration tools have now become table stakes for maintaining operations. However, we shouldn’t lose sight of the extra burden on instructors that comes with digital assessment and other hybrid tools. Furthermore, as technology becomes a necessity for education, there are increased issues of equity and accessibility for students. It’s all fine and good to offer remote courses, but can all your students afford the necessary technology?

Institutional Growth & Sustainability - Strong

Risk & Resilience - Medium

Operational Excellence & Responsibility - Weak

Instructional & Research Value - Superior

Brand Impact & Community Engagement - Strong

WHAT IS DRIVING THIS TREND IN HIGHER EDUCATION?

Value drivers

Instructional and research value

The tools in this trend greatly benefit instruction: work experience platforms bring practical experience to the classroom; XR and cloud collaboration tools expand the classroom beyond its physical limitations; and digital workspaces allow for continuity over a student’s journey. When studying Statistics 201, for example, a student can go back to the environment they used when studying Statistics 101. For academic research, the value proposition of individually assigned workspaces is that there is an internal connection to high performance computing environments.

Brand impact & community engagement

Community engagement is a key tactic for an institution to differentiate itself. When graduate students are working on research projects with government agencies, a digital workspace can ensure the security, the intellectual property, and the audit from the logs on that workstation. In technical training collaborations, work experience platforms and XR technologies can offer better cooperation with industry partners. Finally, while challenging, effective hybrid instruction can be a great differentiator when many institutions are challenged by the changes to traditional pedagogy.

Institutional Growth & Sustainability - Medium

Risk & Resilience - Superior

Operational Excellence & Responsibility - Medium

Instructional & Research Value - Superior

Brand Impact & Community Engagement - Weak

Benefits

NEW WORKPLACE/NEW LEARNING SPACE

Brand differentiation

As more universities adopt technology that brings flexible, remote capabilities to instruction and research, there’s a need to differentiate one’s institution. If an institution is known for a specific program or training, then effort should be made to design courses and implement technology to cater to the specific characteristics of these programs. Nova Scotia Community College is known for its nautical programs and they’re investing in VR to augment these programs. Likewise, Harvard Business School has implemented technology to maintain the pedagogic value of their case study method. These institutions are using technology to augment their existing reputations of instructional excellence.

Stability

During the pandemic, technology was critical to maintaining instructional continuity. Going forward, these technologies will continue to provide stability by allowing institutions to adapt to wider social trends. They will allow rural universities to better compete with urban centers for sought-after specialists. They will allow more flexibility to international students wanting to study abroad. They will allow institutions to operate closer to capacity as the logistics of maximizing the physical classrooms and facilities become more manageable. Finally, there will be the opportunity to attract students beyond traditional geographic boundaries and thus put the institution on better financial footing.

Benefits

NEW WORKPLACE/NEW LEARNING SPACE

Social value

A common view of Higher Education is that its primary social role is to prepare the upcoming generation for the workforce. Shortening the time to degree is a critical component of upholding that social value. The most effective tactic to shorten the time to degree is to reduce student costs. A student who can study from home doesn’t have the cost of paying for residence. This allows students to focus on their studies, rather than on finding ways to supplement their existing financial support. Remote instruction may also open opportunities to populations who are underrepresented due to financial or geographic constraints. Furthermore, technologies can create flexibility in semester start and stop dates and in the number of courses offered a year. This means students will have the option to fast-track the completion of their studies.

Risks & Uncertainties

NEW WORKPLACE/NEW LEARNING SPACE

Operational and budgetary challenges

These technologies can require a substantial financial outlay, especially if physical classrooms are going to be redesigned to accommodate greater flexibility in learning. In cases such as this, it is important to coordinate with those responsible for the overall campus plan early on, in many cases the facilities department. The final decision will lie with the executive. It might be useful for IT to provide different plans for technology implementation: a plan for the gold standard, a plan for the budgetary minimum, and a plan for some middle ground.

Resourcing and design

While IT is readily aware that new technology brings increased service demands, we also need to remember the increased demands that hybrid instruction brings to instructors. The most successful implementations of flexible learning technology involve faculty in detailed planning, often employing design-thinking practices. Not only should these planning sessions focus on instructional design, but they should also focus on the resourcing requirements for successful deployment.

Risks & Uncertainties

NEW WORKPLACE/NEW LEARNING SPACE

Security and privacy risks

Using technology to increase collaboration and remote instruction will bring increased security and privacy concerns. Digital assessment has seen a very public debate around student privacy that has sometimes devolved into legal action. To provide exam security, digital assessment tools effectively take over the student’s computer. This compromises the student’s sense of security around their personal devices. Moreover, instructors often question the credibility of these security tools, since there exist publicly available videos which explain to students how to circumvent these tools.

Case Study

The hybrid learning space at Harvard Business School

Industry: Higher Education

Source: Interview & Simkin

Challenge

Harvard Business School needed to develop a hybrid solution that remained true to their world-renowned case method pedagogy.

When the pandemic hit in the spring of 2020, Harvard Business School (HBS) immediately saw the near existential risk to their world-renowned case method pedagogy. The success of this program was based on bringing together a cohort of MBA candidates who work together in and out of the classroom over the course of semester. How could that same level of collaboration be achieved when many of the students were not able to physically attend classes in the fall? The primary challenge was to design and implement a hybrid classroom environment that maintained fidelity with the instructors’ method of pedagogy.

Case Study

The hybrid learning space at Harvard Business School

Industry: Higher Education

Source: Interview & Simkin

Solution

A cross-functional team was established. It was led by the Senior Associate Dean of University Affairs and included planning and design, the CIO, the program manager, audio visual designers, instructional designers, and the director of capital projects. In order to maintain the case method pedagogy, they needed to incorporate design thinking processes with consideration for both physical and virtual spaces. Specifically, they had to support debate between remote and in-class students and enable the instructor to make connections between groups to facilitate discussion. In order to ensure equity for both remote and in-person students, the team created an in situ prototype design classroom and conducted a weekly feedback process from 50-100 HBS constituents.

The final design solution incorporated two 4k cameras: one at the back of the room to capture the instructor and the chalkboards, and one front of room to capture a wide view of students. Three 85-inch displays were mounted at the back of the room. Two of the screens presented a gallery view of students, while the third screen was part of a critical design innovation. Feedback from test classes reported that the remote students felt left out of the conversation. The innovative solution was to have the in-class students also use their laptops to participate, putting all students on the same footing. One obstacle was the audio feedback created when in-class students spoke. Working with Zoom engineers, HBS was able to stitch together three separate break-out rooms to prevent the feedback: one for in-class students, one for remote students, and one for the instructor. The person speaking, whether in-class or remote, would be highlighted on the third rear display and also highlighted in their own window on the Zoom interface.

Case Study

The hybrid learning space at Harvard Business School

Industry: Higher Education

Source: Interview & Simkin

Results

A hybrid solution that treats remote students as equals in the classroom experience.

The results were very well received. The fall semester proceeded without interruption, and all previously accepted students were able to attend either in-person or remotely. HBS is now applying the same design lessons and technology insights on a smaller scale to conference rooms. More than this, however, the innovation has led to greater growth opportunities. As physical space is limited, the school sees these innovations as a way for more students to attend their programs beyond the school’s physical constraints. Finally, one important insight from this case is that HBS doesn’t refer to their solution as a hy-flex classroom. Rather, this is a hybrid classroom designed for the specific needs of their students, their instructors, and their program.

Recommendations

New workplace/new learning space

  • Develop a cross-functional operating model between IT, faculty, instructional design, and institutional research to develop and support new hybrid modes of instruction.
  • Collaborate with faculty early on in their research projects involving new technology such as VR for instruction. Support for this technology will transfer to IT once the academic funding is complete.
  • Coordinate with faculty and program development on their needs for work experience platforms.

INFO-TECH RESOURCES

Bibliography

Bichsel, Jacqueline, et al. “Providing Remote Work Opportunities Will Aid Your Retention Efforts.” CUPA-HR, Nov. 2021. Accessed 9 Dec. 2021.

Brooks, Christopher. “Student Experiences Learning With Technology in the Pandemic.” Educause, 5 Apr. 2021. Web.

Chin, Monica. “An Ed-Tech Specialist Spoke Out About Remote Testing Software — And Now He’s Being Sued.” The Verge, 22 Oct. 2020. Web.

“Digital Learning Scorecard.” University of Iowa Office of Teaching, Learning & Technology. Accessed 14 Jan. 2022.

“Education Solutions - University of Sydney - Case Study.” Citrix Systems. Accessed 30 Dec. 2021.

“EDUCAUSE and CUPA-HR QuickPoll Results: The Misalignment of Preferences and Realities for Remote Work.” Educause, 10 Sept 2021. Accessed 14 Jan. 2022.

Flaherty, Colleen. “No More Proctorio.” Inside Higher Ed, 1 Feb. 2021. Web.

Gierdowski, Dana C., et al. “Technology Use and Environmental Preferences.” Educause, 21 Oct. 2020. Web.

“Higher Education: Ensuring Continuity During a Disruption.” Citrix Systems. Accessed 30 Dec. 2021.

Irvine, Valerie. “The Landscape of Merging Modalities.” Educause, 26 Oct. 2020.

Kilgore, Wendy. “Meeting the Moment: Transforming the Digital Credentials Space.” AACRAO, Feb. 2021. Web.

McCormack, Mark. “EDUCAUSE QuickPoll Results: Assessment and Learning Design.” Educause, 2 Apr. 2021. Web.

---. “EDUCAUSE QuickPoll Results: Fall Readiness for Teaching and Learning.” Educause, 18 Sept. 2020. Accessed 14 Jan. 2022.

---. “EDUCAUSE QuickPoll Results: XR Technology.” Educause, 3 Dec. 2021. Accessed 14 Jan. 2022.

“Mobilizing and Securing Digital Learning Environments for Limitless Learning -The Possibility Report.” The Atlantic. Accessed 30 Dec. 2021.

Samsug C-Lab. “PROBA.” Samsung C-Lab. Accessed 17 Jan. 2022.

Schmitt, Ray. “Tech TAs Helped Faculty Navigate Remote Teaching Technology During Pandemic.” Penn State University, 1 July 2021. Web.

Bibliography

Simkin, Shona. “Creating the HBS Hybrid Classrooms: Collaboration, Experimentation, Equity, and Innovation.” Harvard Business School, 16 Oct. 2020. Web.

Subbaswamy, Kumble R. “Flexible Learning at UMass Amherst: Shaping the Future of University Education.” UMass Amherst, Jan. 2021. Web.

“The ACE Framework.” Plymouth State University. Accessed 17 Jan. 2022.

“VMware.” Wikipedia, 26 Dec. 2021. Web.

“VMware Automates the Delivery of Digital Learning Environments For Ellucian Customers Worldwide.” VMWare, 25 Oct. 2016. Press Release. Accessed 30 Dec. 2021.

Weston, Ken. “It Takes an Enterprise to Raise a Digital Workspace” SoftwareReviews, 5 July 2019.

STRATEGIC FORESIGHT TREND 3

Recoding Organizational DNA

Value-driven modernization

Recoding organizational DNA

Value-driven modernization

Students, administration, and faculty alike want experiences that are primarily available through cloud-based infrastructure. It provides students greater access to services, and it allows faculty and staff the flexibility to work from home. There are challenges to this transition: the costs and benefits from moving to the cloud are not as straightforward as once promised; institutions do not have the foundations to support cloud-based infrastructure; and not all enterprise systems are mature enough in the cloud.

2x - The number of large institutions that will have adopted cloud-based finance and HCM systems by 2024. (Tambellini, “Report Shows Accelerated Growth,” 2021)

3x - The number of mid-sized and small institutions that will have adopted cloud-based finance and HCM systems by 2024. (Tambellini, “Report Shows Accelerated Growth,” 2021)

15.5 years - The average age of student information systems at HEIs with more than 2,500 students enrolled. (ListedTech, 2022)

36% in HR | 42% in IT - Preference of professionals to work in a mostly or completely remote work arrangement. (Educause, 2021)

Technology signals

RECODING ORGANIZATIONAL DNA

Before After
Faculty, students, and administration conduct their network activities primarily on premises. Identity management systems have been developed in-house and exist behind the perimeter of an on-premises server. Everything works well when all the identity providers, data stores, and applications are behind the firewall. Hybrid work and learning environments are now becoming more standard, and end users expect services that only a digital transformation can provide. A modern identity management system (IDMS) allows IT to join up services, integrate systems and data, and facilitate the migration to one or more clouds.
Solutions architects develop business processes and technology solutions within the constraints of the largely on-premises technical architecture. Cloud engineers and solutions architects have become cloud economists. They understand the various design and cost trade-offs required to successfully rearchitect business processes. They can lower the cloud services bill to the extent that it makes sense within the larger business context.
The on-premises ERP is the system of record for finance, human resources, advancement, and student information. The maintenance of the system requires considerable IT resources. Its functionality is designed for specific purposes, and the use cases associated with its data often require manual processes or custom-built applications with separate data stores. The cloud-based ERP offers greater flexibility in the use of its data. The data can be accessed with greater facility, allowing it to be aggregated and used in analytical applications. The end users – be they staff or faculty member, student, or alumnus/alumna – all have greater system access to conduct relevant self-serve activities across devices and geographies.

WHAT IS DRIVING THIS TREND IN HIGHER EDUCATION?

Value drivers

Institutional growth and sustainability

The technological signals in this trend focus on greater access to data for improved analytics and services. To achieve this flexibility, whether in the cloud or on-prem, there is a need for technical architecture integration. This will facilitate access to external sources of data with state or provincial systems; delivery of digital services to meet the expectations of staff, students, and faculty in the hybrid work environment; and adoption of IoT with the coming of 5G. Cloud deployment and 5G have the added value of reducing energy expenses and impact on the environment. However, to achieve this potential benefit, a cloud economist and solutions architect will be of critical value.

Risk & resilience

Identity is the third leg beside security and privacy that establishes a strong foundation for risk resilience within IT. An IDMS, independent of other systems, is seen as a prerequisite before moving to a cloud-based ERP system. It makes it easier for end users to access applications, networks, and information both on and off campus, and it is a necessary component for moving to a zero trust framework. When we turn to cloud migration, Higher Education finds itself in a difficult position. Many of its enterprise systems are reaching end of life in the next decade, and there is a time-risk scale towards cloud adoption. The challenge for Higher Education is that the systems in general – and the SIS in particular – are not yet fully functional in their cloud instance. Ohio State University announced in December of 2021 that it would drop the student component of its ERP modernization effort with Workday (Keune, 2021; Inside Higher Ed, 2022).

Institutional Growth & Sustainability - Strong

Risk & Resilience - Strong

Operational Excellence & Responsibility - Superior

Instructional & Research Value - Medium

Brand Impact & Community Engagement - Medium

WHAT IS DRIVING THIS TREND IN HIGHER EDUCATION?

Value drivers

Operational excellence & responsibility

Identity has strong political connotations in Higher Education. Outside of IT, the term is usually connected with the preferred names and pronouns that a person wishes to be referred to by. An IDMS is important here because an effective IDMS will facilitate a change in name across all or restricted instances of a user’s identity within the institution’s systems (Tambellini, 2022). The greater complexity of identity within Higher Education lies with the multiple roles any single person can assume (student, alumnus/alumna, faculty, administrator, etc.). Added to this complexity are the complications posed by the academic calendar (Tambellini, “Identity Management,” 2021). Not only will effective identity management provide a foundation for a modern cloud-based architecture, but the process of resolving the identity complexity will allow for new ways of looking at data. As the transition to hybrid work and learning develops, there is an increased demand on storage requirements. The storage of video needs to be managed carefully so that content is available to the benefit of operations in the short term, but not to the detriment of costs in the long term.

Institutional Growth & Sustainability - Strong

Risk & Resilience - Strong

Operational Excellence & Responsibility - Superior

Instructional & Research Value - Medium

Brand Impact & Community Engagement - Medium

WHAT IS DRIVING THIS TREND IN HIGHER EDUCATION?

Value drivers

Instructional and research value

This trend presents considerations for both instruction and research. As instruction moves toward an increasingly hybrid model, the cloud is a key component in most pedagogic models. There is great value for faculty to record and store a lecture. They can use that lecture over the course of several semesters and only update it as needed. In a flipped pedagogic model, face-to-face time is spent collaboratively working on projects and activities. Having lectures available asynchronously frees up lecture halls and classrooms, and adds flexibility to the schedules of both students and faculty. To reap this benefit, it is essential to know what the storage demands will be ahead of time to favorably price this factor into the contract with the cloud services provider.

One benefit of cloud technology to academic researchers is that they can now spin up a virtual machine for a short term. This greatly benefits researchers who need high-powered computing but can’t budget for its outlay in the grant proposal. However, there are specific security concerns associated with academic research because it is the target of both ransomware attacks (Identity Fusion, 2021) and espionage (Inside Higher Ed, 2019). The complication here is that researchers often collaborate on large research projects across institutions and even across countries. The institution which houses the research data has contradictory directives: It needs to open the access to facilitate collaboration, while at the same time, it must increase its security against sophisticated bad actors. A modern IDMS is a key component to resolving this dilemma.

Institutional Growth & Sustainability - Strong

Risk & Resilience - Strong

Operational Excellence & Responsibility - Superior

Instructional & Research Value - Medium

Brand Impact & Community Engagement - Medium

WHAT IS DRIVING THIS TREND IN HIGHER EDUCATION?

Value drivers

Brand impact & community engagement

With the move to the cloud, the service provision of IT needs to be reconfigured. There are often college or university community members working on campus who have traditionally been supported by the institution’s IT department. This support was done in the spirit of good community relations because the licensing was calculated by computer and there wasn’t a direct need for community members to pay for IT’s services. However, with the move to the cloud, there is a change in provisioning, because now the licensing is calculated by the individual and what services they require. In some cases, community members will have their own support from their larger organization, while in other cases, they will want to take advantage of cost sharing with the institution. Beyond this, there are other incidental connections to the community.

There may be outreach in the form of community lectures from different faculty and departments to the wider community. There is also the opportunity to integrate key stakeholders and suppliers into the institution’s enterprise systems as part of its operations (Medium, 2019).

Institutional Growth & Sustainability - Strong

Risk & Resilience - Strong

Operational Excellence & Responsibility - Superior

Instructional & Research Value - Medium

Brand Impact & Community Engagement - Medium

Benefits

RECODING ORGANIZATIONAL DNA

Analytical insights

There is considerable effort involved in moving the main enterprise systems to the cloud and in modernizing the identity management system. One of the main benefits that can be realized from this effort is that data will be more consolidated and consistent across systems allowing for greater analytical insights. When the data is consistent, then there is less likelihood of contradictory perspectives on any given issue. Leadership will be in a better position to make decisions based on the actual state of affairs for issues of recruitment, retention, and program development. Furthermore, the system promises to deliver data at greater frequency, providing the opportunity to be more responsive to student needs and more agile in innovation.

Operational efficiency

Another benefit is that the system will be adaptable to match changing business needs. The cloud-based enterprise system promises to be more flexible than traditional on-premises systems. This means that there is less demand on business processes to conform to the constraints of the system, and the system is more able to fit to the processes of the faculty and staff. Ideally, IT’s role should shift from maintenance of the infrastructure to collaboration with the business on automating manual processes.

Benefits

RECODING ORGANIZATIONAL DNA

Meeting expectations of key stakeholders

As services and opportunities across modern society become device and location agnostic, students and faculty will expect the same level of convenience from their academic lives. At the moment, most institutions cannot deliver this level of service to their students (Inside Higher Ed, 2022), but those that can get ahead in this area of digital transformation will be at a competitive advantage to institutions that are lagging. Furthermore, collaboration in academic research is often a requirement of any highly funded project. To attract and retain the highest profile researchers, a university will need to meet their expectations for ease of collaboration.

Risks & uncertainties

RECODING ORGANIZATIONAL DNA

Cost

The cost of upgrading these systems runs into the millions of dollars, and universities and colleges are already in straitened circumstances. For each dollar that goes to technology, there is a dollar taken from the classroom, from research, or from faculty development. Moreover, not all systems have proven themselves mature enough for larger educational institutions. Ohio State University recently canceled its SIS implementation of Workday Student. Many institutions are choosing to make do with their current on-premises solutions until the vendors have proven the maturity of their education-specific systems.

Data sovereignty and security

Security and privacy in the cloud are challenges for HEIs. End-to-end encryption is often required but at times not provided by the vendor (Global Public Policy Institute, 2021). Another challenge is that the data centers for the public cloud exist in different countries. This poses issues for public universities, as many jurisdictions have laws against storing personal information outside of domestic borders. Despite these concerns, many western universities are starting to use Alibaba’s cloud service (Global Public Policy Institute, 2021). This was initiated to enable international students from China to access their course material from behind the “Great Firewall” of China. However, the CCP actively monitors the content on its cloud, which raises some red flags around intellectual property. More alarming to faculty is the pressure to self-censor their course materials to be less controversial to the home governments of international students.

Risks & uncertainties

RECODING ORGANIZATIONAL DNA

Amazon-like AI

It’s worthwhile to remember that the most cutting-edge developments in technology were developed in industries very different from education. At the back-end, these developments are largely industry agnostic, so virtualization in the cloud is a benefit regardless of what industry it’s applied to. This isn’t the case with the application of a technology like AI or machine learning. In retail service, the AI can use your past activity to recommend a selection for your next purchase or next streaming entertainment. Bringing an application like this to education doesn’t fit so well. A program of study should be planned several years ahead and should be revised carefully. Planning and revision benefit from advisors who can discuss the consequences of the student’s decisions in the context of their long-term goals. The AI for retail hasn’t yet proven itself a match for the benefits of an advisor.

Case Study

Identity access management for international research collaboration

Industry: Higher Education

Source: Internet2, 2018

Challenge

Access management was needed for 1300 researchers across 112 institutions.

LIGO Scientific Collaboration is a scientific group that focuses on gravitational-wave astrophysics research. They have developed tools to measure minute ripples in space-time caused by gravitational abnormalities from immense cosmic events. It is the largest project ever funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and it has produced Nobel Prize-winning research. The research itself is conducted through the California Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As with many large, government-funded research projects, the group includes wide participation. In this case, there are 1300 collaborators at 112 institutions, primarily in the US. LIGO’s challenge was to provide these 1300 researchers with secure, real-time, anytime, access to their remote instruments and data repositories. This challenge involved managing the scientists’ credentials and access to resources, data, and support. They needed a single Identity and Access Management (IAM) solution to track the identities and relationships of the collaborators and their organizations, services, and data sources.

Case Study

Identity access management for international research collaboration

Industry: Higher Education

Source: Internet2, 2018

Solution

Federated identity management infrastructure

LIGO turned to Internet2, the US not-for-profit consortium that provides IT networking solutions for higher education and scientific research organizations. Internet2 used its federated identity management infrastructure called InCommon. This allowed the collaborators to use their existing credentials from their institution for single-sign-on to LIGO’s network. Their institution would confirm the authenticity of the user as well as some basic information for further user identification. A virtual organization was then created and managed with InCommon’s COmanage software. They also employed Internet2’s Grouper software to store identity information related to groups, memberships, and roles. Its flexibility with different web service interfaces was a key factor in the selection decision.

Case Study

Identity access management for international research collaboration

Industry: Higher Education

Source: Internet2, 2018

Results

A scalable solution that can expand to provide access to other federated systems around the world.

The solution achieved the objective of allowing the researchers to collaborate in a trusted environment. Importantly, the framework can be expanded to allow for participation from international researchers for wider collaboration. International participation can be achieved through eduGAIN, which is an inter-federation service for education and research. It currently connects 70 different federations around the world, including Internet2. The solutions they’ve implemented allow LIGO to manage the identities and relationships of collaborators, regardless of where in the world they are or what organization they belong to.

Recommendations

Recoding organizational DNA

  • The Student Information System may not be available for implementation in the near future. Develop solutions to support modern student expectations with a legacy SIS.
  • Prioritize data governance in order to move forward with a robust system for identity management.
  • Prioritize cloud costs as a requirement for any solutions architect the institution may be looking to hire.

INFO-TECH RESOURCES

Bibliography

Banotra, Arun. “Role of Identity and Access Management (IAM) in Higher Education ERP.” Medium, 3 July 2019. Web.

Bednar, Vass. “Opinion: Big Tech’s Support for Canadian Universities Risks Compromising Research Integrity.” The Globe and Mail, 19 Jan. 2022. Web.

Benner, Thorsten. “The ‘Zoomification’ of Academia: Addressing Risks to Academic Freedom.” Global Public Policy Institute, 8 Sept. 2021. Accessed 26 Jan. 2022.

Bischoff, Paul. “Ransomware Attacks on US Schools and Colleges Cost $6.62bn in 2020.” Comparitech, 31 Aug. 2021. Web.

“Case Study Gravitational Wave Research Boosted by Seamless Virtual Identity.” Internet2, Feb. 2018. Accessed 31 Jan. 2022.

“Case Study: Major Science Collaboration (LIGO) Manages Access with Grouper.” Internet2. Accessed 31 Jan. 2022.

“Case Study: University of Maryland Baltimore County.” InCommon. Accessed 24 Jan. 2022.

Cobb, Michael. “Identity and Access Management Strategy: Time to Modernize?” SearchSecurity, Apr. 2017.

“EDUCAUSE and CUPA-HR QuickPoll Results: The Misalignment of Preferences and Realities for Remote Work.” Educause, 10 Sept 2021. Accessed 14 Jan. 2022.

Gogia, Laura. “What Higher Ed CIOs Should Know About Preferred Names and Pronouns.” Tambellini Group, 12 Jan. 2022. Web.

“Gravitational Waves Detected 100 Years after Einstein’s Prediction.” National Science Foundation, Feb. 2016. Press Release. Accessed 1 Feb. 2022.

“Identity Management Solutions for Higher Education and Research.” Identity Fusion, 2021. Accessed 24 Jan. 2022.

Jones, Steve, et al. “Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing in the UK Public Sector: A Reflection on Three Organisational Case Studies.” Information Systems Frontiers, vol. 21, no. 2, Apr. 2019, pp. 359–82.

Keune, Katharine. “Optimizing Our Administrative Systems for the Future.” Ohio State University Office of Technology and Digital Innovation, 1 Dec. 2021. Web.

Kieffer, Dave. “Why Identity Management Is So Important in Higher Education.” Tambellini Group, 21 Apr. 2021. Web.

Bibliography

Leach, Eric. “The 3 Driving Factors for Identity Modernization.” Strata, 8 June 2021. Web.

“LIGO Lab | Caltech | MIT.” LIGO Lab | Caltech, https://www.ligo.caltech.edu/. Accessed 31 Jan. 2022.

Lunney, Patrick. “Federation Simplified (v2).” IDPro Body of Knowledge, vol. 1, no. 4. 19 Apr. 2021. Web.

Post, Ben. “Artificial Intelligence in Education and Student Data Privacy: What Educators Need to Know.” 13 Apr. 2020.

Quinn, Corey. “The Key to Unlock the AWS Billing Puzzle Is Architecture.” Last Week in AWS, 9 June 2021. Web.

Redden, Elizabeth. “Stealing Innovation.” Inside Higher Ed, 29 Apr. 2019. Web.

Roscorla, Tanya. “Who Are You? The Importance of Identity in Higher Ed Research.” Government Technology, 26 Apr. 2017. Web.

Smalley, Suzanne. “Student Information System Difficulties Frustrate Universities.” Inside Higher Ed, 11 Jan. 2022. Web.

“Some Data Context on ‘[SIS] Difficulties Frustrate Universities.’” ListedTech, 19 Jan. 2022. Web.

“Tambellini Report Shows Accelerated Growth in Technology Spending As Higher Education Increases Investments in Cloud-Based Systems.” Tambellini Group, 26 April 2021. Accessed 7 Feb. 2022.

STRATEGIC FORESIGHT TREND 4

Reducing the Burden

Technology-driven transformation

Reducing the burden

Technology-driven transformation

IT cannot lose sight of the fundamentals but must continue to pay attention to reducing costs, increasing efficiency, and growing the capacity of the institution – in other words, reducing the burden of effort needed to operate the institution.

By getting the basics right, IT enables the institution to focus more on teaching, learning, research, and community engagement by reducing the administrative burden borne by academics and students.

62% The percentage of HEI respondents who use CRMs to manage student data. (Educause, “Student Success Technologies,” 2021)

Dr. Crispin Bloomfield, former head of admissions for Durham University, on the use of an AI chatbot for admissions:

“The stats that we got afterwards have been really outstanding. Ninety percent of the student inquiries that came in were answered and it led to the generation of a decent number of contact leads in our CRM system.” (ICS AI, 2021)

44% for CRM | 40% for chatbots

Increased investment in student success technology in 2021. (Educause, “Student Success Technologies,” 2021)

Technology signals

REDUCING THE BURDEN

Signals of technological change (consumer, competitive, or otherwise) that indicate a divergence from the status quo.

Before After
An academic degree, professional certification, or other award has traditionally comprised two parts: the physical diploma and the record of the achievement stored on-premises at the institution or other official central repository, such as the National Student Clearinghouse or World Education Services. Credentials will increasingly be digital in that they can be shared on social media sites, such as LinkedIn, and verified through official websites.
At-risk students have traditionally been identified through poor grades and attendance, which were often not timely enough to facilitate successful intervention. Modern data and analytics are allowing HEIs to identify at-risk students earlier by using a wider array of data reported closer to the time of the event.
Institutions have relied on manual processes to develop prospective student candidates and process their queries and applications. Chatbots and AI are being used to support recruitment and admission processes so that admissions staff can focus their attention on the highest value prospects.

WHAT IS DRIVING THIS TREND IN HIGHER EDUCATION?

Value drivers

Institutional growth and sustainability

Growth in Higher Education is achieved as much by attracting the right students as it is by ensuring students complete their courses of study. Chatbots that integrate AI with an institution’s CRM are becoming increasingly important for recruitment. They can answer prospective student questions 24/7 and, in doing so, generate leads for human follow-up. Once students are enrolled, analytics can be used to identify at-risk students and further refine the profile of successful prospects. Finally, digital credentials have the potential to attract students in the future. They can already integrate with social media, but the future benefit will be with micro-credentials. Once micro-credentials can be certified with the same authority as degree transcripts, then their value will increase in stature.

Risk & resilience

These technologies directly support student engagement priorities that will no doubt continue to be a priority into the future. It must be noted that these technologies directly integrate with CRM and student information systems, as well as with the personal information housed within them. The privacy and security of this information is of the highest priority. This goes not only for its protection, but also for its application: While analytics can offer greater insights with greater information, privacy concerns put constraints on what information should be made available to these systems of analysis.

Institutional Growth & Sustainability - Strong

Risk & Resilience - Medium

Operational Excellence & Responsibility - Strong

Instructional & Research Value - Weak

Brand Impact & Community Engagement - Medium

WHAT IS DRIVING THIS TREND IN HIGHER EDUCATION?

Value drivers

Operational excellence & responsibility

Increasingly, students expect information to be integrated. When they’ve formally provided their concerns at one point of contact, they don’t feel they need to provide them a second time in a different context. Indeed, there is an expectation that the institution makes use of their information in a responsible manner to provide better services and support to them in their education journey. They are justified in thinking this, because modern analytics can provide better service with greater attention to issues of diversity and inclusion.

Instructional and research value

One can see how the future of education may be influenced by these technologies. Analytics in recruitment and admission can support greater insight into student demand and in the selection of the type of student best suited to succeed at the institution. Analytics in student retention can identify the challenges students face with different courses, which in turn can inform program development. Finally, as education becomes more flexible, there will be a demand for “stackable” credentials which build toward formal degrees. The foundations for this development will lie in the digital credential architecture being laid today.

Institutional Growth & Sustainability - Strong

Risk & Resilience - Medium

Operational Excellence & Responsibility - Strong

Instructional & Research Value - Weak

Brand Impact & Community Engagement - Medium

WHAT IS DRIVING THIS TREND IN HIGHER EDUCATION?

Value drivers

Brand impact & community engagement

Institutions are often judged and ranked according to their ability to support their students. An institution that doesn’t leverage modern analytics will likely see its ranking start to drop against its rivals. More than this, however, the analytics should eventually be integrated with the data provided by community partners who are involved with students’ education. This would be important for work experience partners, but also for those engaging in research partnerships. Finally, while Higher Education prefers to avoid business language like its “brand,” an institution should be positive about having its logo associated with graduates on their LinkedIn profiles.

Institutional Growth & Sustainability - Strong

Risk & Resilience - Medium

Operational Excellence & Responsibility - Strong

Instructional & Research Value - Weak

Brand Impact & Community Engagement - Medium

Benefits

REDUCING THE BURDEN

Tighter cross-functional collaboration

A corollary of developing better analytics is the development of more effective processes that involve tight cross-functional collaboration. For example, in order for academic advisors to support at-risk students, they will need good channels of communication with student finance, the registrar’s office, and in some cases, the faculty responsible for different academic programs. While difficult to achieve, the improved cross-functional collaboration creates better efficiencies overall.

Support for DEI

Issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion are at the forefront of public discussions in Higher Education. The challenge for leadership is to have accurate insight into the current demographics of the institution’s population. When dealing with the student population, analytics can help resolve the key challenge: how to build a socially responsible campus while still ensuring that the students recruited are the students who will graduate.

Benefits

REDUCING THE BURDEN

Better position to make decisions

By using analytics to support recruitment and retention, the institution will be in a far stronger position to make decisions that will have a direct financial impact. It is likely that increased competition in the Higher Education market will lead to the closure of more programs, campuses and colleges. For an institution to survive in this increasingly competitive environment, efforts of faculty and staff need to be directed to where they are most valuable. In recruitment, the general concerns of most prospects can be dealt with by AI, leaving staff to deal with the individual concerns of specific prospects. Analytics are effective at the identification of at-risk students, leaving the counselors to deal with personal interventions.

Risks & uncertainties

REDUCING THE BURDEN

Challenges with data

The technologies addressed in this trend rely upon reliable, comprehensive, and timely data. If the data is reliable, then that means everyone agrees on the same source of truth; if it is comprehensive, then there are strong integrations between the necessary systems; and if it is timely, then there are processes which record the data frequently and close to the time of the event. The challenges of establishing this level of data quality are substantial.

Institutional reluctance

Support from leadership to adopt these technologies is crucial, and there may be reasons for their reluctance. Chatbots are still seen as clunky and impersonal. Some institutions may balk at the use of chatbots because the connotation of robotic interaction jars with their sense of a personal touch. A successful student retention program will rely on faculty to provide the data on their students’ participation and performance. Furthermore, instructors may balk at supporting student retention initiatives for reasons of academic integrity. They may feel that students who can’t meet the academic standards probably shouldn’t succeed in their program. Finally, micro-credentials are still some way off in terms of achieving the standard set by academic degrees, and faculty may feel that a move towards micro-credentials is a move towards lower standards.

Risks & uncertainties

REDUCING THE BURDEN

Privacy intrusion

When dealing with analytics, privacy becomes a concern because successful analytics require precise data, and precise data easily encroaches on personal identifiable information (PII). There are restrictions that need to be put in place on what data can be gathered for student retention initiatives. The technology exists to track whether a student attends a class or not; while this data would be very useful for retention initiatives, the data is widely seen as an intrusion on the student’s privacy. In the case of AI, it is important never to use PII when training the models that underlie the analytics engine, nor should it be needed (Edmentum, 2020).

Case Study

Leveraging AI to support admissions

Industry: Higher Education

Source: ICS AI

Challenge

A need to innovate to remain competitive.

Durham University in the UK is a Russell Group institution with 19,500 students (HESA, 2021). In order to remain competitive, the university felt that it should innovate. It conducted focus groups with students and was surprised to hear that the students expected the university to be leveraging AI to better support them. Fortunately, Durham was in a good place to move forward with this innovation. The university had introduced MSFT Dynamics as a CRM in 2015 to support the transformation of student recruitment activities. During that time, it had conducted a thorough review of its business processes and technology, specifically around how back-end processes could be streamlined.

Case Study

Leveraging AI to support admissions

Industry: Higher Education

Source: ICS AI

Solution

AI integrated into the existing chatbot to support human agents.

The university had integrated human chat to support recruitment three years prior, which established a basis for the AI integration. In July 2020, Durham partnered with ICS.AI, a Microsoft Partner, to create an AI assistant for admissions, dubbed Holly. The AI was designed to help students with the enrollment process and provide answers to their various questions. Holly went live in December and ran during the Christmas holiday period supporting student inquiries. Holly was able to answer 90% of the student inquiries and led to a good number of prospect leads added to the CRM.

Case Study

Leveraging AI to support admissions

Industry: Higher Education

Source: ICS AI

Results

Improvement in out-of-hours support and greater conversion of prospects entered into the CRM.

The results have been impressive. Out-of-hours time accounts for 49% of Holly’s contact. This is time when there would have been no one to provide support. The system has been able to convert 12% of those out-of-hours contacts into prospect details for the CRM. In total, there are 400 prospective student conversations per week, and 40% of student conversations with Holly are converted to CRM inquiries.

The other benefit is that with Holly taking over some of the more routine inquiries, the people working on frontline service can now devote their attention to calls that require more sophisticated responses. Furthermore, staff have been able to identify where their knowledge articles need updating based on where Holly lacks detail in its responses. Surprisingly, the search function associated with Holly performed better than expected, and staff are now using it to answer internal questions. Finally, the IT team was impressed with the granularity in reporting, and they’ve appreciated the opportunity the develop their capabilities and skills.

Recommendations

Reducing the burden

  • Many universities are reticent about implementing AI to manage prospective student inquiries. Work with admissions to set up an AI solution for out-of-hours support since this is low-hanging fruit for institutional value.
  • In order to gain effective insight into student retention initiatives, it is imperative to have strong data integrations across the campus. Work with institutional research to identify systems to prioritize.

INFO-TECH RESOURCES

Bibliography

“About the ENIC-NARIC Networks.” ENIC-NARIC. Accessed 31 Dec. 2021.

Addison, Rose. “CLRs Are Here to Stay: Developing and Implementing a Comprehensive Learner Record.” Parchment, 20 Sept. 2021. Web.

“Artificial Intelligence and Chatbots in Higher Education.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, 2018. Web.

Brooks, Christopher. “EDUCAUSE QuickPoll Results: Artificial Intelligence Use in Higher Education.” Educause, 11 June 2021. Accessed 6 Jan. 2022.

---. “EDUCAUSE QuickPoll Results: Student Success Technologies.” Educause, 9 Apr. 2021. Accessed 14 Jan. 2022.

---. “IPAS Implementation Issues: Data and Systems Integration.” Educause, 4 June 2014. Accessed 14 Jan. 2022.

Brown, Sarah, and Alexander C. Kafka. “Covid-19 Has Worsened the Student Mental-Health Crisis. Can Resilience Training Fix It?” The Chronicle of Higher Education, 11 May 2020.

“Covid-19 Impact on College Student Mental Health.” Active Minds, 2020. Web.

“Digital Credentials, Secure Online Credentials.” Digitary. Accessed 9 Dec. 2021.

“Digital Learning Scorecard | Office of Teaching, Learning & Technology.” University of Iowa. Accessed 14 Jan. 2022.

“Durham University: The Journey to Holly.” ICS AI, 22 Oct. 2021. Web.

“Education Solutions - University of Sydney - Case Study.” Citrix. Accessed 30 Dec. 2021.

“Electronic Records & Data Exchange.” AACRAO. Accessed 9 Dec. 2021.

Keevy, James. “Webinar 7, Life Long Learning and Digital Learner Data Portability.” Groningen Declaration Network, 8 Oct. 2020. Accessed 9 Dec. 2021.

Kilgore, Wendy. “Meeting the Moment: Transforming the Digital Credentials Space.” AACRAO, Feb. 2021. Web.

“Micro-credentials: Towards a Universal Definition. Groningen Declaration Network Position Statement on Micro-credentials.” Groningen Declaration Network, 14 July 2021. Accessed 9 Dec. 2021.

Bibliography

“Ocelot’s AI Chatbot Usage Up 262% Since Colleges Went Remote in March.” Educause, 1 July 2020. Accessed 6 Jan. 2022.

“Online Credentials for Learning.” Wikipedia, 28 June 2021. Web.

Ortega, Crystal. “Introducing Socrates: Support Chatbot Available on Blackboard.” University of Illinois Chicago, 18 Aug. 2020.

Post, Ben. “Artificial Intelligence in Education and Student Data Privacy: What Educators Need to Know.” Edmentum, 13 Apr. 2020. Web.

“Parchment Press Release – Two Large U.S. Electronic Transcript Networks Merge.” Groningen Declaration Network, 4 June 2020. Accessed 9 Dec. 2021.

“Partnerships - ARUCC - Association of Registrars of the Universities and Colleges of Canada.” ARUCC. Accessed 9 Dec. 2021.

Rajecki, Keith. “Transforming Higher Education Through Conversational Interfaces and Artificial Intelligence.” Educause, 16 Dec. 2019. Accessed 6 Jan. 2022.

Robert, Jenay. “EDUCAUSE QuickPoll Results: Flexibility and Equity for Student Success.” Educause, 5 Nov. 2021. Accessed 14 Jan. 2022.

“Rowan University Reduces Marketing Costs with Google Analytics Integration.” Ocelot, 12 Oct. 2021. Accessed 6 Jan. 2022.

“Victoria University Engages Oracle Eloqua to Market Open Day.” Oracle, 12 Nov. 2021. Accessed 6 Jan. 2022.

“Welcome to MyCreds.” ARUCC. Accessed 31 Dec. 2021.

“What Are Digital Credentials?” Europass. Accessed 9 Dec. 2021.

“Where Do HE Students Study?” HESA, 9 Feb. 2021. Accessed 1 Feb. 2022.

Activities

Higher Education Strategic Foresight Report

Funnel technology trends into business opportunities

Transform strategic foresight trend insights into actionable initiatives by determining what technology your institution should prioritize and how to persuade stakeholders to approve

Dealing with trends is one of the most important tasks for innovation and digital transformation. It provides the basis of developing the future orientation of the institution. However, being aware of a trend is one thing, to develop a strategy for response is another. Info-Tech has evaluated and chosen trends that are important in different capacities. At this point, your institution should determine what technologies are applicable to your institution.

Your strategy should involve the following steps:

1) Prioritization: Info-Tech began this step for you by determining the general impacts of the trend for the industry and the technologies available in the space. Now, it’s your turn. Which technologies should you prioritize?

2) Persuasion: After determining what to prioritize, how could you persuade and gain support from your stakeholders?

Strategic Foresight Trends Report: 4 Driving Trends

  • 01 - Prioritization: Trend and Technology Opportunities
  • 02 - Persuasion: Minimum Viable Business Case

Prioritize your technology initiatives by doing a high-level analysis

This strategic foresight trends report is the horizon scanning needed to determine the degree of impact the trend has on your industry. The transition from horizon scanning to strategic action requires evaluation of what specific technological opportunities can lead to growth for your institution. To customize to your institution, we need to further evaluate the opportunities by a set of criteria:

Industry-specific

  • Impact

The degree of impact the trend will have on your industry. A trend with high impact will drive new business models, products, or services.

Higher Education Value Drivers

Business Capabilities

Horizon scanning done by Info-Tech to determine the impact of these trends on the higher education industry

Further customize this score depending on:

  • The mutual exclusivity of each technology. Does it fall in multiple trend buckets that further benefit the industry, making it more available, applicable, and impactful for higher education than originally thought?
  • The specific technology that’s being analyzed. Analysis was done for the trends as wholes, but these scores could vary depending on the specific technology that’s being analyzed.

Organization-specific

  • Relevance
    • The relevance of the trend to your organization. Does the trend fulfill the vision or the goals of the organization?
    • Decide your score based on:
      • Technology’s impact on institution classification: service level, target segments, and location. In other words, what are your constituents’ needs and expectations?
      • Comparatively, does this technology conflict with other implemented technologies? In other words, does it provide redundant applications and features, and could you do without it?
      • Projects and requirements gathering: Will this technology satisfy the needs of your constituents?
  • Timing
    • The estimated time to disruption this trend will have in your industry.
    • Decide your score based on:
      • Assess whether the trend will require significant developments to support its entry into the ecosystem.
      • Assess your institution’s budget to implement the solution.

Use the MoSCoW analysis for prioritization

Assessments based on time, relevancy, and impact will inform the overall effect on the industry and specific organization. This information, when contrasted with the concept of a MoSCoW-based relevance-to-impact analysis, forms an enhanced decision-making framework that can be used to determine initiative sequencing on a strategic roadmap.

Impact Technology that could be considered Technology that must be prioritized above others
4

Could address

LR/HI

Must address

HR/HI

3
2

Won't address

LR/LI

Should address

HR/LI

1 Technology that should be considered
1 2 3 4
Relevance

Legend: 1-weak; 2-medium; 3-strong; 4-superior

Ranked technologies based on your needs:

  1. Technology MUST ADDRESS
  2. Technology SHOULD ADDRESS
  3. Technology SHOULD ADDRESS
  4. Technology COULD ADDRESS

Look to implement these technologies in your institution.

Vetting of technology opportunities

To determine which opportunity to act on, use a prioritization framework that enables decision makers to see the timing, relevance, and impact the opportunities pose.

We have defined these criteria already, now leverage them to prioritize which technologies to pursue.

Technology Implemented? (Y/N) Impact (Scale 1-4) Relevance (Scale 1-4) Timing Conflict? (Y/N)
AI / ML No 3 3 No
IIoT No 3 2 No
Energy Monitor Yes
Rechargeable No 2 1 No
TMS Yes
Remove consideration for technology that has already been implemented Deprioritize technology that has a timing and budget conflict
Impact4

Could address

LR/HI

Must address

HR/HI

3
2

Won't address

LR/LI

Should address

HR/LI

1
1234
Relevance

Align IT and strategic initiatives

  1. Extract institutional goals from strategic documents that contain aspirations and outline initiatives to determine existing priorities and goals set out by the organization. Examples of documents include annual reports and business unit strategy documents.
  2. Determine the benefits of the strategic initiative that closely aligns and promotes the success of the institutional goals.
  3. Make the case for the institutional initiative by discovering gaps in the current state, describing how the strategic technology can accomplish the institutional goals.

The image shows a chart with three columns, labelled Institutional Goals; Strategic Initiative; and Current State. Under the first column, there are three rows with the text Institutional Goal. Those rows are connected by an arrow pointing right to the next column, where the row text reads IT initiatives. The third column has three rows under it that read Current State, and each row is connected to the centre column with a left pointing arrow. The column headings are connected to each other left to right using arrows with text, which read: Achieved Through and Create or Improve.

Leveraging the trends report as a key input

Higher Education Strategic Trends Report

  • Trends Report

As part of your next steps checklist, leverage this trends report for priorities that drive measurable top-line organizational outcomes and the unlocking of direct value.

Digital strategy & IT Strategy

  • IT Strategy
  • Digital Strategy

Info-Tech’s Define Your Digital Business Strategy and Build a Business-Aligned IT Strategy blueprints give you the tools you need to effectively process signals in your environment, build an understanding of relevant trends, and turn this understanding into action. This will help you establish a structured approach to innovation management that considers external trends as well as internal processes.

Research contributors and experts

Sandy Silk

Senior Workshop Director Info-Tech Research Group

Mark Roman

Managing Partner Info-Tech Research Group

Karl Walker

Head of Architecture University of Exeter

John Leidl

Executive Counselor Info-Tech Research Group

Carlos Thomas

Executive Counselor Info-Tech Research Group

Nassos Galiopoulos

Chief Technology Officer University of Texas at San Antonio

Dave Wallace

Executive Counselor Info-Tech Research Group

Mike Weber

Strategic Partnerships Manager Riipen

Elizabeth Clark

Chief Information Officer Harvard Business School

Jim Kirk

Senior Director Info-Tech Research Group

Rick Daoust

Chief Information Officer Cambrian College

Bradley Bowness

Executive Advisor Info-Tech Research Group

One anonymous CISO at a large research university also contributed.

About Info-Tech

Info-Tech Research Group is the world’s fastest-growing information technology research and advisory company, proudly serving over 30,000 IT professionals.

We produce unbiased and highly relevant research to help CIOs and IT leaders make strategic, timely, and well-informed decisions. We partner closely with IT teams to provide everything they need, from actionable tools to analyst guidance, ensuring they deliver measurable results for their organizations.

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A blueprint is designed to be a roadmap, containing a methodology and the tools and templates you need to solve your IT problems.

Each blueprint can be accompanied by a Guided Implementation that provides you access to our world-class analysts to help you get through the project.

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Author

Mark Maby

Contributors

  • Elizabeth Clark, Chief Information Officer, Harvard Business School
  • Nassos Galiopoulos, Chief Technology Officer, University of Texas at San Antonio
  • Karl Walker, Head of Architecture, University of Exeter
  • Rick Daoust, Chief Information Officer, Cambrian College
  • Mike Weber, Strategic Partnerships Manager, Riipen
  • One anonymous contributor
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