October 19, 2017 | Higher Education, Institutional Analytics

    UNC Cause 2017 – Building Tomorrow’s IT, Today & LEGOS

    Last week, my colleague Bret Dennis and I had the opportunity to represent HelioCampus at UNC CAUSE in Greenville, NC. As first-time attendees, we didn't know what to expect. After spending two days learning from and building relationships with IT professionals across the University of North Carolina System, it was time well spent!

    UNC CAUSE is an organization composed of the management and staff of the information technology based unit of the 16 campuses of the University of North Carolina system. The event is primarily focused on university IT from all angles including Infrastructure, Security, Technology and Strategy.

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    I found myself particularly drawn to the conference theme of “Building tomorrow’s IT, Today.” And it wasn’t because of the title. It was LEGOS. Legos were everywhere! I mean, everywhere. They were displayed nicely throughout the convention center. They were in meeting rooms. They were in the halls. What child, or adult for that matter, doesn’t relate to LEGOs? I know I have thousands of these little blocks around my house and when giving it some thought, it couldn’t have been a more appropriate theme.

    At first sight, the halls of the convention center were filled with multiple representatives from each of the sixteen University of North Carolina System schools. They were all sporting their schools’ colors proudly. We met people from all levels of the schools’ IT organizations, from Help Desk Call Center representatives to CIOs. It was clear that there was an instant comradery amongst all of the schools, almost like a big reunion.

    When I reflected on how they were using Legos and building blocks as themes for the event, it quickly became clear to me the relationship between the two. To build a successful Lego Creation, you have to start with a good, strong foundation. The IT department of any institution is a critical component to that foundation. The foundation cannot be created through technology and tools alone. The foundation is the IT professionals and leaders that design, manage and support the infrastructure that supports the near and long-term needs at the institution. When it comes to the institutions that HelioCampus partners with, the IT organizations serve as a catalysts for enabling stakeholders across the institution to ask and answer their most pressing questions.

    An important theme that emerged as I met people in different IT roles across their institution was around providing access to information to enable many to answer their most important questions. As we all know, the most important question can be vastly different based on your role with an institution. A Help Desk Supervisor may be interested in analyzing the data from a call volume perspective - do we get more calls before lunch or after lunch? What are the themes of the calls? Are there trends that could help us staff better for the call volume? A Network Engineer may be more concerned with data security - who should see what and how is this controlled at a school wide level? A CIO may be interested in how to drive and sustain enrollment across academic programs with desired student diversity levels? No matter what your role at an institution, the ability to ask and answer your most criticial questions should always be a top priority. Identifying the right questions from the beginning will inform the foundation, ultimately resulting in a successful build.

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