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A Call to Action for the U of M IT Community

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In collaboration with my colleagues in other colleges and University offices, I recently helped write the following "Call to Action" to the IT community. I share it with you today so that you can see our rapidly changing technology world is not only having an impact on students, faculty, and staff, but it is presenting an enormous challenge to those who provide IT support and services. I welcome your thoughts and perspective on these issues.

Shared Vision

To create mobile-friendly infrastructure, resources, and services that enable and encourage successful use of mobile technology in pursuit of the University's core academic mission.

Paradigm Shift

As the barriers to technology adoption--complexity and access--decrease, people who were once reluctant or slow to adopt are integrating consumer technology into their daily lives at an ever-quickening pace.

In the "age of the PC," IT was able to control and manage the infrastructure and experience for our users, but the new world of mobile and consumer technology generally lies outside the reach of traditional IT management, policy, and support.

Managing PCs required purchasing controls, restricting access to networks, and maintaining a monopoly on technical expertise. This is in contrast to mobile technology which is most often owned by the end-user, connected to public or commercial networks, and requires little to no technical expertise to use successfully. University-owned and managed workstations may not disappear, but they will no longer be the sole, or primary, technology portal for our faculty, staff, and students.

Already, a significant portion of the technology tools our faculty, staff and students use daily is beyond traditional IT management and control approaches. All evidence shows this trend will continue until we are effectively a "Bring Your Own Device" environment. This is not to say traditionally important issues like security, support, and infrastructure are unimportant in this consumer-driven technology world, only that they must be approached in ways that accept and enhance the new reality. This new reality will dramatically change the role of IT.

This document is a call to action for the U of M IT community. We are already behind our peer institutions and at risk of irrelevance. We need to shift our focus, change our paradigm, and reinvent ourselves as facilitators and enablers in the new world of consumer technology. The devices may be easy to use, but using them effectively and safely in the classroom, or the lab, or the office is far from easy. Technology options increase daily and our faculty, staff, and students will still need our guidance to integrate the mix of technologies into clear solutions, to fulfill their responsibilities to protect private data, and to apply the new technology to foster better learning, better research, and a competitive advantage for the University.

Ultimately, if we answer this call to action well, we will position IT at the U of M for the long term--to create an IT organization that is highly flexible, nimble and adaptable to not only advance mobile strategy today, but to prepare the U of M to take advantage of the post-mobile world, not yet visible on the horizon.

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