UNC CAUSE 2018: Definitely More Than Just a Conference

    

Last week I had the privilege of attending the 2018 UNC Cause annual conference, which was held in Greenville, NC on October 1-3. UNC CAUSE was formed in 1970 by the computing centers of all 16 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Its purpose? To promote cooperation and information exchange between the campuses of the UNC System in all areas related to information technology. 

UNC Cause was a wonderful opportunity to connect with our clients within the UNC system. Many clients came to the booth to discuss our support of the UNC System Strategic Plan, “Higher Expectation,” and learn more about how their school can dig deeper into their own data to answer strategic questions and improve campus operations.

 The conference theme this year was ‘More Than A Conference,’ and it certainly was; there were a lot of good sessions, networking, and evening activities including a reception with the vendors and a Blue Grass Jam. Session topics ranged from Cyber Security and Threats to Campus Surveillance Technology, Retiring and Migrating Mission Critical Technologies, Teaching & Learning, and Faculty Communication.

IT Governance is a topic that emerges in every conversation I have with prospects and clients, and it was popular at UNC Cause as well. On Tuesday morning, I attended the session “Streamlining Spaghetti, Lessons in IT Governance Redesign.” It was a robust discussion about IT Governance and the complex issues associated with the process and implementation. The audience asked many thought-provoking questions:

  • What is the process for establishing the goals for the IT governance structure?
  • How do you measure the value and effectiveness of IT Governance?
  • How are you partnering with procurement in this process?
  • How do you catch things before they get to the purchasing process?
  • What is the communication strategy around the IT Governance process?
  • Who should help in developing/redesigning the process?
  • Are there people/groups that resist IT Governance? Why? How do you bring them onboard?

IT Governance is the process that ensures the effective and efficient use of IT in enabling an organization to achieve its goals. It is essential to guiding schools through the complex world of technology and ensuring they purchase and deploy IT systems of benefit. To learn more about IT Governance and determine if your organization needs it, you can read the Higher Education IT Governance Checklist, Educause Publications (2017). The article provides an overview and a checklist for determining whether your organization needs IT governance. You might need IT governance if:

  • New IT policies are developed and approved and stakeholders are surprised by those policies.
  • Stakeholders are unhappy with the solutions IT is providing and are resisting using them or are developing shadow IT projects and systems.
  • IT organizations want more meaningful collaboration with stakeholders and would like to increase transparency around decision making.
  • Central and distributed IT units are purchasing and deploying duplicative IT technologies and services, or costs related to such deployments are higher than anticipated.
  • IT organizations are unsure how to best allocate resources to meet stakeholder needs or have internal disagreements about this.
  • Institutional leadership views IT as a cost center rather than an effective partner in achieving the institution’s mission.

The conference was inspirational and I hope all the attendees enjoyed it as much as I did.

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