In a recent survey of CIOs and CTOs conducted by Inside Higher Ed and Hanover Research, one noteworthy finding was that the majority of respondents believed that their central technology unit behaved like a utility. While technology can solve a great many issues that occur on college campuses, to truly innovate with technology, an institution’s CIO/CTO needs to be in a position of strategic leadership. But what can CIOs and CTOs do to elevate their role on college campuses?
In its Decision Guide: Helping CIOs To Achieve Strategic Partner Status, Inside Higher Ed interviewed David Weil, CIO of Ithaca College, and Joseph Moreau, former Vice Chancellor of Technology at Foothill-de Anza Community College District, now senior consultant at Higher Digital, Inc. In the interview, Weil and Moreau outlined nine steps that they believe increase a CIO’s impact on campus.
Our last blog on the subject summarized the four decisions CIOs and CTOs need to make to become strategic partners on campus. In the second part of this two-part series, we examine four tactics that CIOs and CTOs can take to make a larger impact at their institution.
1. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
What Moreau and Weil mean when they suggest a CIO leave their comfort zone: network. For CIOs and CTOs to be truly impactful on campus, they need to move beyond their campus’ bubble and tap into the wider network of peers from other institutions. Extending their community beyond their institution and working with other professionals can stimulate brainstorming and help solve complex issues.
Moreau also suggests that CIOs take advantage of professional opportunities that arise on campus. He recommends volunteering to serve on boards or other initiatives, as this will help deepen a CIO’s understanding of how their institution runs.
2. Don't Talk Tech
As CIOs begin working as strategic leaders on campus, they’ll interact more and more with those who won’t understand the nuances of technology. This can make for frustrating conversations on both sides. When discussing technology, Weil recommends that CIOs/CTOs should focus on what technology can help someone achieve, rather than get into the weeds.
3. Report to the Top Executive
Weil and Moreau stress that it is incredibly important for CIOs to have a place in the executive’s council and have a direct means of conversing with their institution’s main decision-makers. Why? CIOs need to fully understand the institution’s objectives and expectations to ensure that technology can support goals. This also puts CIOs and CTOs in a position to provide insight and solve problems at the very beginning stages of an idea or initiative.
4. Dive Into the Data
Increasingly, colleges and universities are turning to data to make more informed decisions. Data-informed decisions can improve student success, retention, program development, you name it. CIOs must ensure that data isn’t siloed and that decision-makers get the information they need to plan more strategically.
In their final pieces of advice, Weil and Moreau ultimately suggest that, for CIOs and CTOs to be difference makers on campus, they need to embrace the EDUCAUSE model of transformation: shifting the technology, the workforce, and the culture. The technology part, they say, is the easy part. It’s harder to change the workforce and the campus culture. But impacting these areas will be crucial to the success of any technology-led endeavor.
To read Insider Higher Ed’s Decision Guide in full, you can download it here.
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