Educause 2014 Day 1 AM

September 2014 finds me in Orlando at the Educause 2014 conference.

Back in February Diana Oblinger invited me to join the 2015 program committee. That makes me the sole international member, good job my shoulders are broad!
So I’m here with 4 aims;

1. Gathering intelligence on BI and analytics conference session content, quality and formats
2. Seeking overlaps and opportunities through side meetings and meeting the 2015 program committee
3. Linking in with the Jisc sector intelligence team and seeking updates on the CIO sessions and various meetings they are undertaking
4. Contributing any relevant intelligence to the planning of Jisc Digifest 2015

With over 400 sessions in 2 full days and 7K plus delegates the advice I’ve picked up is pragmatic – choose carefully, build in time to reflect, make the most of the commercial area as its full of expertise.


This blog post will be deliberately concise. It won’t be a detailed record of the event as my previous posts have attempted. I’m going to try to provide a summary of each session I attend, then distill out the key learning points that struck me below. Here goes.

Session 1 Disrupting Innovation and the future of higher education – Clay Christianson
A key note talk in a room the size of an airport hangar, works surprisingly well.

Bit left field for me this but bear with, it may be worth it…..

Disrupting innovations are hard to catch up with as the case for sustainability isn’t there. Sustaining innovation tips include ‘competing against consumption’. ‘Non-consumption’ is the slack in the market.

Art Example; Putting up a picture in your house; For 3 weeks you enjoy it and are a consumer of art. After 3 weeks you pay less attention and become a non-consumer. A business may exist to offer a screen that provides new art every 3 weeks. It exploits the non-consumption.

‘The right product architecture depends on the basis of competition
Proprietary interdependent architectures’.

Mobile phone example; Proprietary; Nokia were disrupted by Blackberry which offered email and messaging, then Apple operating a the high end of cost and quality
Modular open architecture; Android is over running the market

PC example; Modular open; Dell, Acer, Quanta cannot distiniguish products fast enough. When modularity occurs the module providers make the money – intel and Microsoft.
Closed Proprietary; Apple highly distinguished, high end and expensive

App Development example; Closed proprietary – Microsoft and Apple – you can’t change the Windows code Open Modular – Linux

Dell and AsusTek example; Asus Tek started by making motherboards for Dell, Dell managed assembly, distribution, design etc (the modularity). AsusTek offered to take over each of these more cheaply. Dell accepted each noting increased profitability while assets and costs shrunk. Eventually Asus Tek were able to go to vendors and explain they were making the best computers in the world, they can supply them cheaper as a cheaper brand. Dell disappeared.

So where might we apply this to Higher education? As HE goes online we see open modular supply and accreditation for components of a degree across multiple institutional education suppliers. Standards are coming in to exploit this. The money is going to be made by the suppliers of the ‘components’. Scale becomes important as they can reach hundreds of thousands of students. Institutions beware or you may disappear entirely. Well. That’s the theory!

KEY LEARNING POINTS; models of disruptive innovation, closed proprietary and open modular are all relevant to the future of Higher Education.

Session 2 Leveraging Data for Strategic Advantage
A round table (EDUCAUSE CIO) discussion session led by experts Sharon Blanton (CIO Hawaii Pacific), John Phillips (Dell), Stephen Landry (CIO Seton Hall), Fred Richards (Ellucian and Cognos)
The convenors used to gather responses to various questions rather than a ‘raise of hands’.

Here are the questions;
1. What is the current state of BI on your campus?
2. Where on the BI Maturity Model (Gartner) does your campus lie?
3. What does BI look like on your campus?
4. What functions are currently being addressed in your BI solution?
5. Who is the leader or champion of your BI implementation?
6. What is the greatest current challenge for BI on your campus?

Gartner BI maturity levels; Adhoc BI – repeatable BI – defined BI – managed BI – optimised BI

Here’s the survey;

It would have been good to have mapped this to a national survey such as these;
The Data Warehouse BI Maturity Tool
EUNIS BI Taskforce Survey 2013

KEY LEARNING POINTS; Of the 120 plus CIOs present in the session most declared low BI Maturity. NACUBO – the US equivalent of BUFDG are seen as key consumers and powerful proponents. Business process is a key preliminary step to successful BI implementation. Most here have no senior champion for BI. A committee of senior stakeholders was more common. A federated governance using a Business Intelligence Competency Centre (BICC) is declared as best practice while an Agile Development approach was described using sprints. The main challenge is seen as disparate data sources and data quality.
Top Quote; ‘there’s no such thing as mastering BI, it expands faster than you can catch it’

Session 3 Managing the digital campus from enrolment to graduation
I’m quite intrigued by this as Jisc is part way through a wide UK consultation termed ‘Prospect to Alumnus’ identifying issues, opportunities and thinning these down to 4 candidate areas for the development of new services to the UK HE sector.

Theme; Improving the student experience
Issue; admissions process was slow, self service meant students would upload data multiple times creating a backlog
Solution; Peoplesoft 9.0 implementation underpinned by a single student record

Theme; Accelerating the success of new hired employees
Issue; a 19 page document describes the manual processes to support this
Solution; Electronic checklist system for managers to complete

Theme; Electronic Content Management is paper reliant and prime for an update
Issue; Financial arrangements are delayed, paper storage is expensive, access is poor
Solution; Vendor provided solution implemented. Reports a 550% ROI based on the improvements. Essentially a records management initiative coupled with an electronic document management system cutting swathes through inefficiency and with some compelling impact measurement.

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