23 April 2007

How Corporate IT is becoming more like Higher Ed IT

IT in Higher Education has often been ad-hoc, immature, unstructured, inefficient and uneffective. Recent years have seen a significant growth in the maturity of IT structures and services. Some have argued that if we could make higher ed IT more like corporate IT, we'd solve most or all of our problems. Of course, this attempt to develop a highly regulated and monitored IT infrastructure has conflicted - sometimes almost violently - with the culture of higher education which values freedom, flexibility, and personal choice (if not always personal accountability).

Ironically, current trends have brought similar cultural challenges to the corporate environment - digital natives, consumerization of IT, and social networks have dramatically changed the way that both employees and customers expectations. The cultural clash that higher education has wrestled with in recent years has now hit the corporate environment. At the same time, external pressures created by Sarbanes-Oxley push towards more control. It's hard to imagine how the corporate world will respond, but I do think that higher education has an opportunity to lead the way to new ways of thinking about IT. The key is to embrace the culture of learning and education, blend it with what we've learned from the Internet, and build a new ecology of information technology.

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