AVP & CTO Update April 8, 2019
Good morning, Colleagues
Digital Transformation – have you heard that phrase lately? I am guessing you have – and if so, you might have been asking yourself, just what is it, anyway?
Besides being the biggest catch phrase since ‘bi-modal IT’ and ‘Big Data’, digital transformation is being pursued by almost every organization. Just do a search online and … well I hope you have lots of time! I won’t even try to define it as you are likely to find any number of definitions that word smith it a different way and probably more eloquently than I can. Suffice it to say that we at McMaster are now in the process of our own digital transformation. What it means to me is a disruptive impact on the status quo through the enhancement of our technologies, and related capabilities and processes, in order to improve the institution’s ability to achieve its mission. Digital Transformation impacts People, Process, Technology, and Data and how we handle all of these. Our McMaster IT Strategic Plan is a road map that will help us to achieve our digital transformation.
OK, I tried to define it after all!
In 2019, EDUCAUSE is exploring the meaning of digital transformation by offering a series of articles that focus on various components critical to the ability for Higher Ed institutions to succeed at their digital transformations. I encourage you to tap into this series and read along with me. As John O’Brien, President of EDUCAUSE, writes, “EDUCAUSE defines [digital transformation] as ‘a cultural, workforce, and technological shift . . . being driven by technology trends and changes that include advances in analytics, artificial intelligence, the cloud, mobile, consumerization, social networks, and storage capacities’.”
The latest EDUCAUSE Review includes articles that focus on the role that IT Governance plays in successful digital transformation. Critically, as the article states, digital transformation “requires that stakeholders from all across the institution, not just within IT, are involved and engaged”. IT Governance provides a means for ensuring that we have stakeholders involved in thinking through the best IT solutions and directions, taking ownership in decision making and championing the necessary shifts in the way we work to support new technologies. McMaster’s IT Governance committees and processes will play an integral role in our own efforts to create value and move us to our digital future. IT Governance provides transparency and broad institution-wide input on decisions related to technology and information services investments in combination with our IT Strategic Plan. We are fortunate to have our IT Governance model in place to help guide us as we work towards our digital transformation.
And in case we think that digital transformation efforts are new – well they aren’t! Perhaps the well worn phrase and everyone’s willingness to use it is new, however the activities and efforts to integrate digital technologies into industries in order to gain competitive advantage has been in place for years. This article from McKinsey, a well respected business consultancy, talks about the successes and failures over the years, and suggests that the five key success factors for effective digital transformations are “leadership, capability building, empowering workers, upgrading tools and communication”.
On Tuesday, Amanda Baldwin and I will be leading a workshop on digital transformation at the TMG retreat. The goal is to enhance participants’ understanding and initiate discussions, while guiding everyone through a reflection on how to prepare for a digital transformation. Content online is vast and outlines many approaches to undertaking a digital transformation. One site I found had some sage advice on what to do before you get started. We only have an hour for our workshop so will narrow in and discuss considerations for process changes and the role of team or department culture. I hope to see some of you there!
From now until late May, the IT Strategic Plan project team will also be developing and leading a number of campus engagement sessions, bringing members of our community together to focus on the 2019 priority initiatives. We will be asking for input and ideas on technologies and services that will allow us to successfully implement those initiatives, and we will also be brainstorming ideas for how best to prepare to accommodate the digital transformation that we will be creating. I invite you to join us at as many of these sessions as you want or have the time for. Please stay tuned as we will be sharing specifics by very early next week at the latest.
That’s the way I see IT for April 8. Until next time…have a great week, everyone!