Campus IT Departments Are a Good Home for Creatives

Tech professionals leverage familiar tools in new ways to solve problems.

Traditionally, IT hasn’t been viewed as the most creative of professions. But that’s changing. Quite often, in fact, driven by the need to solve a problem, IT leaders step back and ask, “How can we do things differently?”

As new capabilities facilitate new applications, these in turn inspire technologists to find new ways to leverage those applications. Our digital ecosystem is one of reciprocal inspiration, with each advance pushing us forward into an ever-expanding territory.

Successful marriages of creativity and technology are limitless, and we’re just beginning to see what our peers can dream up and achieve. Higher education is fortunate to have IT leaders who embrace the challenges of their field and take the time to ask that all-important question: “How can we do things not just differently, but better?”

Blended IT Initiatives Achieve Innovation

For example, some forward-looking institutions are merging two ­up-and-coming capabilities, data analytics and the Internet of Things, to achieve impressive (and practical) outcomes. The University of Nebraska–Lincoln and the University of Washington are saving big through energy conservation initiatives that collect data from smart sensors in HVAC systems and then run it through analytics software to gain valuable insights.

One of the coolest things about these initiatives? They enable institutions to be proactive in maintaining facilities and fixing problems before they start. That generates both financial savings and goodwill from staff, who no longer have to wait for a heating or cooling system repair.

In other cases, creativity stems from a desire to refashion nontechnical elements to better serve technology experts. For example, when Daytona State College’s IT leaders realized that their workspace was hampering employees’ ability to collaborate and brainstorm, they elected to completely reimagine their physical environment. “We decided we should start with a blank slate and really think about it as a functional and technical workspace,” says Associate IT Director Dave Tatum.

Technology solutions are often the answer. But the inspiration for new applications — and the inventiveness to pair people and resources in new ways — comes from smart, committed professionals. You might even call them creatives.

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Feb 14 2018