With today’s universities operating more and more like businesses, could transfer of IT best practices from the business sector be the answer to their most pressing challenges?
Over the last decade in particular, the UK’s universities have found themselves facing increasing challenges, not least around funding, changes to regulatory systems, and reputation in an ever-more competitive environment.
There is another sector where these challenges, or variations thereof, have long been familiar faces: business. In this sector, IT integration and digital transformation have proved instrumental in reaching and engaging new customers, improving reputation, and elevating organisations above their competitors.
“In [the business] sector, IT integration and digital transformation have proved instrumental in reaching and engaging new customers, improving reputation, and elevating organisations above their competitors.”
Could transfer of IT best practice from business to education be one solution?
What lessons can universities take from business IT?
An unproductive business is a short-lived one. As universities place more and more importance over league tables and results, they too understand the requirements for an IT network capable of supporting the needs of its users.
To facilitate productivity across staff and students, it’s imperative that university networks are secure, resilient, and future-proofed against rising network usage—something that 28% of respondents in 2017's The State of Networking in Education survey highlighted as a serious concern going into the new year.
Cloud computing has become commonplace across both the education and business sectors. To make best use of this, however, it is important that organisations switch on to the benefits of a smart, reliable infrastructure, one that is capable of supporting everything from BYOD to the continuing migration of data and applications to the cloud.
“It’s imperative that university networks are secure, resilient, and future-proofed against rising network usage.”
On the subject, the uptake of BYOD policies, flexible hours and remote working have meant businesses need to clarify their standing around device management policies. Universities can learn from this, particularly around the need for accessible documentation that students can both find and read easily.
As of 2017, 36% of IT managers in education said their schools, colleges and universities did not have an effective BYOD strategy in place. Distribution should be enforced and monitored to reduce security risks and protect the university’s intellectual property.
How are higher education organisations using IT to solve business challenges ?
Implementing IT changes and keeping systems current can be challenging to manage with only in-house resources. Higher education organisations thinking in the long-term understand the need to continually invest in skills—balanced against the potential risks of reduced productivity or inadequate protection.
“Higher education organisations thinking in the long-term understand the need to continually invest in skills.”
Universities looking for somewhere to start should consider the capability of their network. As the foundation on which IT integration, information security, and infrastructure accessibility sits, it is an efficient and far-reaching way of improving an institution’s IT services.
What to do next: A network health check is designed to test and verify the critical components of the network for reliability, performance, and any obvious security issues. They should be carried out regularly but it is not uncommon for education networks to go months, even years without a thorough health check.
Have your say
Our commitment to understanding the unique challenges faced in education has led us to produce an annual research report, The State of IT in Education.
The survey collects responses from top educational providers across the UK, resulting in a full report aimed at better understanding emerging challenges senior IT professionals face in this sector.
Take 10 minutes to contribute your opinion to the report, scheduled for release in early 2018, and gain insights into the challenges faced by education organisations throughout the UK, as reported by the organisations themselves. Use these insights to inform key IT decisions for 2018, improving the state of IT for your education organisation and the pupils it benefits.