Our research team’s work across the EAB membership gives us a unique perspective on cross-campus priorities, and how these issues impact IT’s strategic goals. Recently, EAB’s Facilities Forum surveyed its members to identify their top-of-mind concerns. While the survey primarily focused on facilities-related issues, three themes emerged that demonstrate how IT can help facilities leaders reach their strategic goals.
1. Effective facilities dashboards
In an effort to improve the decision-making process, facilities leaders are increasingly under pressure to leverage data more efficiently. IT’s role in this endeavor is two-fold:
- Identify and deliver the relevant data that undergirds facilities leaders’ key focus areas
- Support the synthesis of data into intuitive dashboards
Of all the topics addressed in the survey, facilities leaders identified effective dashboards as their top concern. To improve user-friendliness of data dashboards, IT teams should consolidate analytical resources (reports and dashboards) to minimize conflicting sources of data. Decision support teams can also eliminate unnecessary reports and merge content to create a master dashboard.
2. Smart campus buildings of the future
Your colleagues in facilities will also need help to plan and maintain new buildings. The smart buildings of the future will include:
- Connected paper towel dispensers that send restock alerts to maintenance staff
- Self-diagnosing plumbing fixtures that monitor for potential leaks and/or clogs
- Lighting and heating fixtures that adjust in accordance with the weather
None of these features are possible without close collaboration between facilities and IT teams. CIOs should consider how their team’s skills could support facilities’ various projects.
This need is particularly acute at research universities. As seen from the member feedback, all respondents from research universities indicated that future collaborations are an area of high importance.
3. Total cost of technology ownership
Facilities leaders and CIOs alike are concerned about how they can effectively educate campus members about deferred maintenance and implementation costs of new technologies. Almost 60% of Facilities Forum respondents rated themselves as “highly interested” in best practices that will help them create and communicate deferred maintenance priorities. This interest mirrors CIOs’ concerns about:
- Replacement of legacy IT systems
- Management of costs while simultaneously freeing up resources to address future needs
Moving forward, our research team will actively explore best practices for the acquisition of new technologies and sunsetting of outdated systems.
Facilities and IT leaders both recognize that campus stakeholders need additional information about the total cost of technology ownership. While campus members acknowledge the upfront cost of new technologies, many individuals don’t understand the additional investment required for maintenance and support. This issue will become increasingly relevant as subscription models become more common in higher education institutions.
IT Forum members also report that strong partnerships with facilities staff offer additional opportunities to create more stewards for the IT infrastructure. Facilities and IT share a common challenge to help end users make data-informed, cost-effective decisions.
The potential for collaboration between IT and Facilities is just one measure of the degree to which IT intertwines with other campus unit’s work. In the future, the IT Forum research team will continue to work across EAB’s forums to help you anticipate your colleagues’ technology needs.