The IT manager in 2011 plays a much different role than the IT manager of several years ago. There used to be a time when all Information Technology was centralized - think mainframes, time-share systems, supercomputers. If you needed technology to get the job done, you went through the IT manager.
Today, the IT manager's job has changed. Technology has become a commodity, ubiquitous. IT no longer can survive in an "ivory tower".
A great example is as follows: A faculty member accessing Gmail on a laptop using Thunderbird via a USB attached cellular network device. What part of that configuration would an IT manager be successful at assisting a remote user with? And would they even try?
This trend is only going to grow as consumer-oriented devices meshing with cloud-based services become the norm. Already only 25% of the devices that our local IT staff support are owned by the University; most of the computing devices are in the hands of the users.
The role of local IT managers is rapidly changing from implementing stuff - to negotiating and brokering stuff.
In this environment, IT managers need to evaluate if centrally hosted services should become a shrinking portion of those they select to deploy. If you were to look at providing a new service for your college, say process management, would you go with a centrally-managed application, or load up an open source application on a hosted virtual machine, or share an application with another college, or use one of the many cloud-based process management solutions available today? Which is the most cost effective?
We've known for a while that the Cloud offers economy of scale that significantly reduce the operational expenses of providing a service. Similarly, it's become clear that IT shops can provide the most benefit to their users by assisting with the top-10 emerging technologies.
New options are appearing constantly and we need to not only assist our individual colleges in selecting these solutions but communicate among the colleges what solutions we're finding that work.