Technology-The Cradle of Modern Education

By Clifford Russell, CIO, Morehouse College

Clifford Russell, CIO, Morehouse College

Rising over ‘Old-School’ Methods:

One of the biggest challenges in moving Higher Education into the future, as far as technology is concerned is overcoming the inertia of the way things have been done in the past.

I believe that data analytics and the effective and compelling visualization of the results to be one of the most powerful tools that an organization has to communicate progress and outcomes across the entire enterprise; internally and externally.

Security—Need of the Hour

Properly used and understood powerful predictive data analytics will give leaders in any industry a competitive advantage over their peers.

Despite the advancement in technology and availability of some cool technology solutions, there isn't a day when we can say 'all is fine.' There are several pain points within the enterprise for which solutions do not exist yet. Data and network security tools are as agile and effective as the hackers are in a BYOD, cloud first, mobile first world. A secure, self-optimizing and self healing network is the need of the hour.

It’s hard to pick from the list— Big data, social media, mobile, cloud, IOT—since all of these items do and will continue to play key roles in our industry; all of these together play a vital role and are critical in Higher Education.

Next generation network security technology and wireless technologies—like WiFi—are collectively revolutionizing now more than ever in the education sector and is critical for business to succeed.

I believe, IT in the age of mobile and cloud, should move in the direction of being trusted advisors or internal consultants whose primary function is to keep their ear to the ground on technology trends while also understanding the zeitgeist. In understanding the two, IT should be in the business of helping a community unlock the full value of their organization’s two most precious resources—their people and their data.

Leadership Responsibilities:

CIO’s must move in the direction of being passionate enablers and coaches and not CI-No’s!

The tone at the top is critical! The President of Morehouse College in a management meeting once used the analogy “if Morehouse is a tree, then technology is the trunk of that tree”. It is critical that all levels of the organization understand the strategic and not just the tactical role of finding the right technology solutions that play in the ongoing success of that enterprise.

I’m also an advocate of moving to the term CXO in place of CIO and CTO since technology is literally the fabric of our modern economy. The X covers all of the many duties and skills that the technology leader of the future needs to lead effectively.

As security issues gradually start demanding full time attention, the role of a CIO is poised with more significance. I think ‘ombudsman’ will be excellent more perfect term to use, to describe the evolving role of a CIO. The CIO needs to be able to advocate for all sides of the technology equation for all the members of the enterprise.

Cyber security has to play a central role in any organization; no one is exempt! The higher the level of regulatory compliance for the particular industry; the more likely that the security role needs to have a dedicated CSO.

You MUST have passion for what you do!!! I would also recommend that you diversify your experience because I have found that the role of CIO requires that you understand in great detail, to all aspects of the business that you are providing technology leadership to.

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