The current deployment of applications from off campus cloud computing vendors, known as Software as a Service (SaaS), will allow faculty and students to experience personalized technology support. Legacy practices of IT departments will be challenged by relevant and flexible applications from off campus. Faculty and students will be quick to point out the off campus applications, and these will often cost the university less than legacy campus applications. The probable result will be the CIO meeting the deans to determine the future direction of computing.
The fragmentation of service will highlight the need to restructure technology support on campus. Major SaaS providers will offer point product support, and the campus will continue to support central campus applications (ERP). The university community will require transparent support across all technology. Support might find itself being offered in one of the following scenarios:
- A likely area to emerge as the technology support area is the library. Why? The primary reason is the library administration has transformed from a campus-based resource to a largely virtual resource successfully. Additionally, the library has introduced the Information Commons that has been a hit, widely received by the students and faculty. Further, the library has been able to transform to the digital world without losing the trust of the faculty. The academic community would welcome one-stop technology and research support located close to the college. The major issue will be if the library is willing to change its traditional culture to become the “information resource” for the academic community.
- Another option would be for support to remain in IT. IT will need to create innovative and transparent relationships with the faculty and students to establish a transparent support organization in the minds of the academic community. IT has the skills to be very successful in offering support; the issue is credibility. Many faculty and staff feel that IT has not made the successful transition to the digital world and often suggest IT is a better gatekeeper than a customer service advocate.
- The dark horse for IT support on campus would be an outsourced vendor. A number of large organizations have outsourced the customer support function to one of the large service providers. It is clear that an outsourced customer support contract would provide a university with a large number of scenarios that would meet the different needs of individual colleges. An outsourced vendor with clear service level agreements would ensure a defined level of service is achieved. The greatest difficulty with an outsourced relationship will be to get buy-in from all vested user communities. I fully expect individual colleges to establish outsourced vendor relationships and if successful could become the central model of support.