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Jim Morris's Thought of the Week (or month, or year, ...)

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Campus IT Strategy Challenge

Carnegie Mellon’s Andrew system was created in an era of closed systems twenty-five years ago. The internet decisively ended that era by connecting all the world’s programmers, bringing forth a storm of innovation and diversity in software applications. Now, students arrive at college with their own computers, software, games, and internet habits fully formed. Generally, the services they can get for free are better than anything the university can offer them.

What if your university shut down its IT support tomorrow? After each individual found a broadband connection to the internet, it would take her less than a week to find most of the personal services they needed for free. The things that hold the organization together—email distribution lists, calendars, procedures, and knowledge—would migrate to the new, public infrastructure easily.

Maybe the IT department could provide high-speed networking on campus, but it would be better to join with the surrounding neighborhoods to get a good network deal for the whole community. That way, the students and faculty can live off-campus with no communications penalty, and the local community is drawn to the university.

There is more to outsourcing strategy than expediency. Rearranging your supply/value chain is a hot topic for all enterprises right now. It’s even a research area called Service Systems. Because a university is a relatively open enterprise, it needn’t be constrained with all the privacy and security concerns that impede industry and government. Devising a workable outsourcing strategy is just as as innovative as building a computer system was twenty-five years ago.

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posted by Jim Morris @ 1:10 PM 


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