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Archives > October 2013 > The Consumerization of IT Ushers in Campus-Wide Cultural Shift at Seton Hill University

The Consumerization of IT Ushers in Campus-Wide Cultural Shift at Seton Hill University

The 'Consumerization of Information Technology' has been a very hot topic since the first paper about it was published in a LEF journal in June of 2004. The industry defines consumerization as the growing tendency for new information technology to emerge first in the consumer market and then spread into business, education and government organizations.

By: Phil Komarny

Historically new technologies are delivered to an organization by its leadership to perform a necessary business function. This delivery method is not very collaborative or open and makes it difficult to take full advantage of the proliferation of new mobile devices in the market.

This shift away from a controlled, closed, and sometimes downright unwelcoming networking environment has escalated quickly since the emergence of the smartphone and now the tablet. While some organizations and their IT leadership shun this disruptively innovative way to manage their computing environment, others are embracing the change and focusing more on the 'innovation' and less on the 'disruption.' This shift in focus is leading to a mobilized work force that is supported by an open portal that provides fingertip access to data that they need to be successful in their roles.

At Seton Hill University, we've adopted a consumerized model that has significantly changed our campus culture with the launch of our Mobile Learning @ the Hill program in the fall of 2010, which included issuing a MacBook Pro and an iPad to every student. It was at that point that we dove headfirst into the deep end of the consumerized pool.

Almost overnight Seton Hill went from a tightly controlled, 'Control- Alt-Delete' culture to a collaborative and open 'Cloud/Mobile/Social' one. This shift moved the entire campus toward a more consumerized environment, one that would not only support the iPad but would mimic the experience that a customer has when they open a new Apple device and. turn it on. and. it. just. works.

That experience has been extrapolated out into every application we develop and every service we deliver to our community. This consumerized vision is hyper-focused on the user and the experience they have interacting with your computing environment.

Here are six key factors that were required for, or were a direct result of, our adoption of a consumerized, Cloud/Mobile/Social culture.

Community
It all starts with community. It's imperative to have a portal that brings your users into your environment through a single sign on point. You must define your community, nurture it, and provide a stable and killer user experience. For example, we use our portal as a framework to deliver customized applications that can leverage multiple data stores that, at worst, create efficiencies and, at best, create aligned business processes that lead to an efficient organization.

Clear and Focused Vision
CIOs today must have a much broader vision of their organization. This broadened vision also needs to be able to penetrate the most hardened business unit silo to understand their pain points with current technologies. It's the job of the CIO to understand the relationship of business units and how their processes effect one another. Coupled with a strong technological vision, this deep understanding of the organization can produce a language of engagement that the CIO can use to translate technology into new efficient and collaborative processes. Armed with this new 'language,' the CIO can now set a vision that needs to continually be reiterated so that it stays clear and understood. A clouded vision can lead to something that Christine Comaford (@Comaford) calls the "critter state." This can paralyze staff members and can bring any innovation to a screeching halt. Even if the vision is not fully accepted by everyone, the fact that it is clearly defined will diminish the fears of change.

Process
Engagement is being brought to an entirely new level. By moving from a closed, wired, client/server environment to the cloud, delivering UX on mobile devices and enhanced via social interactions, the CIO now has a platform to engage users at a different level. Creating new processes now becomes very collaborative, open and transparent. By better understanding the users, and their pain points, the CIO can now work openly, across multiple business units, to collaboratively create a process that not only creates efficiencies, but also can lead to new business models and revenue streams.

Policy & Governance
The shift to the consumerization of IT allows organizations the ability to move away from a centralized, hierarchical and controlled environment to one that is hyper-focused on user experience. Policies that are inflexible and rigid can be changed by creating a shared governance model that utilizes collaboration. An open environment of collaboration drives swift consensus around new policies and provides a solid foundation to grow a new culture, instead of being stifled by outdated policies.

Security
A secure computing environment will always be critical. Let's face it: we all want to be able to sleep peacefully at night. With the onset of consumerization, security can be just as effective while being much less intrusive. We have found that when you use an iPad and interact with it, a sense of ownership is created. This sense of ownership has led to a deeper appreciation of device security.

Staff Development
Times of change call for changing roles. The workforce must be able to adapt and understand the new vision and how it aligns to their current skill-sets. As more of our virtualized infrastructure is relocated from on-campus data centers to the cloud, the need for skills that are related to those currently leveraged as a developer become necessary.

With a change in culture, you can also engage your users on a different level. Before the shift at Seton Hill, the use of technology on campus was not rated highly by the student body. How could you blame them when we had outdated computer labs, limited access to resources and Wi-Fi and, most importantly, no sense of community?

 

 

About The Author
Phil Komarny

is the vice president of IT and CIO at Seton Hill University. He has served as the institutional catalyst in initiatives which have positioned Seton Hill as a leader in strengthening learning through the use of mobile technology. In addition to providing daily support of Seton Hill University's entire technology infrastructure, Komarny develops new software and website applications.

 

 

 

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