In an IT landscape moving as quickly as today’s does, our notions of “the future” change equally fast. For IT experts, this rapidity demands a pivot-and-adapt posture that is more or less constant. The goals and concerns we identified five years ago have since acquired new dimensions, while developments that we didn’t foresee back then now hold center stage. The new hallmark of IT management is forward-looking responsiveness.
The challenge, of course, is balancing this mindset with immediate priorities. That’s intensified by the fact that, particularly in IT security, new threats emerge seemingly faster than professionals can keep up. For even the most proactive leaders, it can be tough to pursue future-oriented strategies while managing day-to-day pressures. Too often, we find ourselves reacting rather than planning, anticipating and preparing.
Hitting a Moving Target
Forewarned is forearmed. The future can be viewed from a variety of perspectives. Consider the Internet of Things, bearing down upon us faster than many realize. For colleges and universities, the influx of connected devices — predicted to hit 21 billion by 2020 — will place intense demands on network capacity and security. The precise extent of those demands is still unknown, but getting ready should be on every institution’s radar.
We also consider what it takes to future-proof your campus. When investing in infrastructure, IT teams hope to position themselves to serve the technological needs of their campuses for the long term. Yet, experts recognize that five years from now, constituents’ needs may look quite different than they do today.
Similarly, it is impossible to predict the timing of severe weather events and power outages, but we can be sure such crises will drastically impact the IT function. Accordingly, preparing for worst-case scenarios is the best defensive posture. Some institutions are taking a cloud-based approach to that strategy, as we explore in "Where There's Smoke..."
In our communities, consumer behavior and the attendant effects on physical infrastructure can create interesting opportunities for higher education. Consider colleges that are breathing new life into cities by transforming defunct real estate, such as shopping malls, into thriving centers of learning.
Box CEO Aaron Levie said, “The best technology is aimed far enough in the future that it stands out, but close enough to the present that it blends in.” That’s a mark we all strive for, and the target is ever-shifting. The good news? There is one thing we can count on: The future of IT will be exciting and energetic, and it will challenge all of us to stay on top of our game.