On October 1, 2015, CIO Danielle Levasseur had the pleasure of welcoming internationally renowned speaker Dr. Jan-Martin Lowendahl as a presenter at the University. Dr. Lowendahl spoke at two presentations on the subject of “How Technology disrupts the Education Ecosystem and Changes the Business Model Balance” first to IT system managers, and at a second session to vice-presidents, associate vice-presidents, deans, vice-deans and directors. Ms. Levasseur prefaced the presentation by touching on how the emergence of new of technology is happening at an overwhelming speed and that if the University is not positioned to meet the related challenges, we would be left behind.
In this thought-provoking session, Dr. Lowendahl asks, “What investments in information technology will be strategic in positioning the institution for long-term success in fulfilling its mission?” Using Gartner tools, Dr. Lowendahl echoed Ms. Levasseur’s earlier comments by presenting the tsunami of technology (the hype cycle) and the expectation to deliver new technological capabilities that would offer an institution a competitive advantage, noting, “IT should do the things the faculty and students need” versus what is cool, or what these stakeholders feel they want. He presented a toolbox for envisioning the technological landscape at a higher education institution from the short-term into the long-term, but noted that the challenge was getting others to understand the enormous change attached to technology implementations and weighing expectations against the time it takes to implement an IT solution. At the end of the day he says, “Technology implementations mean nothing without happy users.”
The presentation offered many insights about how technology could applied in different ways to deliver a competitive advantage or opportunities for the University of Ottawa using examples from higher education institutions and high-tech companies such as Arizona State University, Tidewater Community College, Statistics.com, and Live Mocha among others. In order to take advantage of these opportunities, an organization needs to determine its business purpose because technology investments and competitive advantage are not “one size fits all.” In addition, universities can move away from the model of creating their own technologies because the technology ecosystem now offers so many prospects for partnership and collaboration to deliver technologies that can be adapted to an institution.
From the session, it was obvious that the technological landscape is becoming increasingly complex. In order to move forward, Dr. Lowendahl suggests that the institution engage academics and stakeholders to identify institutional priorities, and to look at technological decisions through a storyline of where we want our institution to be. Technology in the institutional strategic planning process will offer significant gains in providing the institution a competitive advantage.
Jan-Martin Lowendahl, Ph.D (Chemistry) is a research VP in Gartner Research, where his research area is mainly higher-education governance, strategy and emerging trends. Prior to joining Gartner, Dr. Lowendahl had 15 years of experience in higher education, including research and teaching and IT management. He also has served as CIO where his main focus was infrastructure strategies and governance.