A Call to Inspiration

Information Technology needs a call to inspiration. Many technologists we know in Higher Education have been confused by the messages purported by others, and over time, forgotten the real purpose of serving as technologists within an institution. We believe campuses are ripe for a revitalization, and the return of the creative, disciplined spirit that brought with it so many technological innovations over the past few decades.

We are those who build, those who make that which didn’t exist before. We are the ones who push, and make others healthily uncomfortable, and who continue to wiggle left and right until a better fit is found. We are those who lead the thinking about business continuance, and make other administrators feel secure that we are aware, and awake, and willing to accept any challenge that comes our way.

Conversely, many of us believe that we must be the ones to comply and enforce compliance, and to stop innovation beyond any risk, and to lower expectations based on budget. Compliance is a MUST, but it is not an accomplishment. Enforcing compliance is important, but not as important as showing others how to comply while innovating. Budgets are irrelevant to the needs of an institution and inconsequential to creativity. You can’t buy a server without a budget, but you can get rid of a lot of servers and connect the cost of hosting to projects. You can’t expand your wireless network without an investment, but you can present that investment as it pertains to students and a vision for expansion.

Our confusion around the true role of the CIO started when campus leadership was asked to enforce HIPPA and FERPA and PCI and other compliance rules. Leaders were then praised for making sure those rules were not broken. Mind you, those rules CANNOT be broken! Likewise, compliance with existing rules are a basic requirement of a CIO, but compliance is not an accomplishment. 

To borrow a culinary analogy, a chef is not praised for cooking, but rather by the art that he creates. The ability to cook is a basic requirement of a chef, not an accomplishment.

CIOs should be judged by the limberness of change that each provides to the business. One should be bold enough to move the institution forward while still maintaining the balance of the operation as required of the position. But introduce more inspiration, and you'll start to see solutions pop up in the most overlooked places.

Be inspired: change things for the better!