IT leaders like to look at managing technology by "controlling" it. A large part of this probably comes from a generational background: IT leaders are likely from the "Star Wars" generation, and we grew up in exciting times in a technology sense but a frightening and uncertain time in a social sense. So IT leaders who are about my age tend to really dig technology, but at the same time wish to have some level of control over it. But as Gregory Jackson at EDUCAUSE Review points out, "The era of control is ending for campus IT organizations. This means that IT leaders need to rethink some known management approaches and methods. Specifically, they need to learn to use these methods in radically different ways."
The article looks to several ways in which IT organizations are changing:
It's about economy of scale. You can only grow so big before things start to become unmanageable. After that tipping point, you cannot grow very quickly, meaning you cannot move rapidly to support new initiatives.
IT organizations manage this in different ways. Virtualization and outsourcing (such as to cloud-based services) are usually first on the list. Data centers represent the first level of cloud-based services: IaaS, or "Infrastructure as a Service". Virtualized servers form a second level: Platform as a Service, or PaaS. Loss-of-control effects also emerge from a third level: Software as a Service, or SaaS. This is especially true for what we might call the "shared-instance" form of SaaS, in which campuses contract with outside entities to provide specified services without dedicating a specific instance of applications to the campus.
Campuses are changing how they organize themselves. It used to be that institutions would look to centralize services into a single delivery, a monolithic organization. Not just in IT, but across the campus. But these lent themselves to a "silo" view, with many C-levels: Chief Information Officer, Chief Security Officer, Chief Academic Officer, ... and other CxO's.
Within IT, many campuses consolidated administrative computing units, which had previously reported separately, into the central IT organization. Or academic IT units under the central umbrella. In theory, such centralization yields efficiencies, and sometimes it did so. But there's no way to separate campus IT from the academic and administrative work it supports.
IT leadership in today's campus environment requires collaboration across functional lines - collaboration and teamwork.
IT has shifted its mission over the years, from an entrepreneurial unit that stroke to break new ground, to a core part of the institution. This is generally a good thing, because we do leverage technology in every part of the business. But in adopting this new role, IT also changed how it approached campus technology. In many ways, we went from "innovator" to "policy enforcer". When central IT leaders are cast as enforcers, their ability to work with others on campus suffers. Not because others on campus are violators - but because the "enforcer" role redefines the relationship. IT needs to find a balance between innovation and policy, to effectively engage with the campus.