IT Strategy – The “Personal Environment”

In February 2012 we prepared a revised IT Strategy for the University, and since then we have been consulting with Schools, Departments and Students. It has still to be formally approved, but it has been well received and I’d like to start sharing it more openly. I’ve put a copy here if you want to look at the whole thing, but I thought I would do a few blog entries on specific topics. The strategy is based on 3 “drivers” – (i) The University’s strategy “A Clear Future” and key priorities from that (ii) External public sector drivers and (iii) technology drivers. From these, we have defined 4 key areas of priority for IT: 

1. The Personal Environment

2. Key Elements of the Service Portfolio

3. Infrastructure

4. Governance

 The “personal environment” is a new concept for us. By this we mean the whole technology environment that our staff and students will directly interact with in their day to day lives. This includes the University provided workstations, services and infrastructure, but also devices owned by our staff and students and the services they run on these. “Consumerisation” of IT means that for many people, their personally owned environment is important to them and they would like to be able to use this at work. So, like many organisations, we will be looking at ways of helping our users to do this, and to do it safely within clear guidelines that protect our information and services. 

We’ll develop a “bring your own device” policy, or “BYOD” as it is referred to. This takes us into some interesting territory – what should the University provide and what should we expect staff and students to provide for themselves? More about that in a future blog, but I am thinking along the lines that for many people if you want to use an iPad or similar, it should really be your own one and our job is to make it as easy as possible for you to connect to our services on it. I say that because inevitably, anyone with an iPad, or Android tablet computer will almost certainly end up using it extensively in their personal lives anyway. However, there will be some situations where a tablet computer might be an essential tool and we’ll have to look at a University provision to some extent. Your views are welcome! 

As well as personal devices, there are personal services. Staff and students are using facilities such as Dropbox, Google Apps, Evernote and many other widely available facilities. We don’t want to ban their use – the opposite in fact, but there are some important issues to think through and we will be issuing guidance on these – probably along the following lines: 

  • Personal data should never be stored in these services no matter how secure they appear. This might break the law and expose you and/or the University to penalties; 
  • We should not use these services to deliver facilities that duplicate what the University provides – that should be unnecessary and will confuse our staff and students; 
  • Important University documents, records and other information resources should always be kept on University provided storage where they are secure; 
  • But if you want to use these services for your own work or study that’s fine.

 

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