Page 41 - Campus Technology, June 2017
P. 41

C-Level View
Getting a ‘Seat at the Table’ Is Not Enough
IT may have evolved from a mere service provider to a voice in strategic planning, but forming partnerships at many levels, both internal and external, is the real key to success.
By Mary Grush
We’ve heard a lot over the past few years about how IT departments are getting a “seat at the table” — IT’s evolution from a mere provider of technology services, to
a new, more authoritative voice engaged with upper-level administration in strategic planning and oversight of technology applications for the institution. Here, Jill Albin-Hill, Dominican University’s (IL) vice president for information technology, talks about the changing role of IT at
her institution.
Campus Technology: Is IT “getting a seat at the table” at your institution?
Jill Albin-Hill: Yes, but getting a seat at the table is really not enough. The evolution of IT for our higher education
institutions has to include building partnerships at many levels. Internally, this means fostering a more mature understanding of technology by people at the departmental level and all constituencies institution-wide, so that effective and intelligent planning and program implementation can take place. We provide support at the departmental level, of course, but we especially need the agreement and commitment of departments throughout the institution to become more tech-savvy — at least in a way that allows for useful conversations between us. IT should also be looking outside of the institution for partnerships that can help us leverage consortia, networks, new cloud-based models
and all the other rich resources of the IT
community at large. In a sense, IT now “takes a village.”
CT: Isn’t it important for you to have a “seat at the table”?
Albin-Hill: Of course. But you know,
lots of times we hear CIOs or IT leaders focusing on their own leadership development as, “I want a seat at the table.” This is mainly because for years we have struggled with getting people to tell us about what they were doing. We would hear about some new system they wanted to have installed — after they were already purchasing it! Or, they were struggling with a problem and never consulted IT
or thought to bring us in. So the idea of getting a seat at the table, where those
strategic conversations were happening, was very appealing. Your technology leader needs to be where higher-level technology plans are formed.
CT: Were you, or the IT department, prepared for a seat at the table?
Albin-Hill: Good question. Be careful what you wish for! I think I’ve lived a little bit in these past five years since my institution first had a technology plan developed and approved by the board.
In turning that corner and having my
seat at the table, I became aware of a very important question: How do you get to a place where people at all levels finally see technology as just an enabler and recognize the IT department as a true partner? 4

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