Once upon a time in a land far away, one of my first CFOs told me that "technology is the toilet that keeps on flushing." These were not encouraging words for a then-young CIO. I took them as a punch to my professional gut.
Now, with a few more years under my belt and a better understanding of the bigger picture, I understand what he meant. He was saying that technology is a costly resource that has no obvious return on investment. My job as a CIO then (and now) has been to translate technology expenditures into positive business and educational outcomes to show an ROI. I hope I do a better job today than I did back then.
CIOs often have trouble communicating and translating the linkages between technology development and growth and overreaching institutional mission and goals. Most problematic, CIOs resist working with CFOs on a strong formula for return on technology investments.
I'm fortunate to have a very strong relationship with our CFO here at Centre College. It's certainly not the first time I've worked with first-rate colleagues in that seat, but this current one helps me to reflect on the good and bad times.
[Big data, social, and other trends are changing the workplace. Here's how to stay ahead of the curve: Future Of Work: 5 Trends For CIOs.]
CIOs and CFOs must both understand institutional goals and commit to seeing the advantages of a sound technology infrastructure and the strategic use of institutional data. We must find new ways to use technology to help our people work more effectively. The key to a strong partnership is mutual respect and an understanding that both parties want the same success for the institution but have different responsibilities in achieving their common goals.
All CIOs focus on the pillars of administrative software, secure transactional systems, networks, enterprise applications, telephony, institutional data, data analytics, and all the services that are key to keeping things working. Unfortunately, most higher-education CIOs struggle to find time to think strategically about the future of technology on their campuses and how they can use it to improve services for their various constituents (more on that point later).Keith is a veteran chief information officer serving as CIO for Saint Mary's College- Notre Dame, IN, University of Virginia-Wise and, most recently, Centre College. He is a co-founder and board member of the Higher Education Systems & Services Consortium (HESS) and has ... View Full Bio