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The Critical Nature of Technology in Education

Two important events occurred recently in Oracle education circles: Alliance (the global meeting of the independent Oracle Higher Education User Group or HEUG) in Nashville Tennessee, and Oracle Industry Connect (an Oracle-sponsored industry thought leadership event) in Washington DC. Both conferences signaled the continued and heightened role that technology must play in order for education and research to survive and thrive in the coming years. Alliance once again drew a large crowd of nearly 4000 to interact on issues and opportunities in leveraging Oracle and other complimentary technologies in the running of the academic enterprise. But what was noteworthy about this conference in 2015 was not the size of the group nor any one specific presentation or announcement. It was rather the sense of change that seems to be permeating the organization. This was evident in the installation of a new HEUG president (Mario Barry from Lone Star College) as well as in the discussions that took place during the Executive Forum sessions at the conference. There is a decided shift in importance and dominance from the large, monolithic "administrative" applications such as student information systems and ERP (which were the underpinnings of the HEUG's origin), to more "front office" systems such as student engagement, learning technologies, recruitment, retention, and analytics. One might be tempted to talk about this in terms of a shift from on-premise applications to all things cloud, but I see that as simply a technology evolution that is permeating everything. The real shift is rooted in the dynamics affecting our systems of higher education: the need to deliver education and research at scale (increased access), the need for differentiation between institutions (and to expose those key differentiators through technology), and the need for higher education to become more data-driven. This was clearly evident during the Student Success panel at Alliance Executive Forum, where Andy Clark, Vice President of Enrollment, Marketing and Communications from Valdosta State University, the aforementioned Mario Barry from Lone Star College, and outgoing HEUG president Steve Hahn of the University of Wisconsin-Madison all discussed how important the development of enterprise-wide approaches to the use of data to enhance student success had become one of the most critical drivers for executive team in their respective institutions. In the week following Alliance, education was one of several featured industries at Oracle Industry Connect, a thought-leadership conference sponsored by Oracle in Washington DC. I was privileged to chair a panel of several university presidents accompanied by an industry analyst from Ovum, as the keynote presentation which initiated our industry track. Joining me were Dr. G.P. "Bud" Peterson of the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), Professor Michael Fitts of Tulane University, Dr. Mary Hawkins of Bellevue University, and Nicole Engelbert of Ovum. We discussed a wide range of issues including the considerable change higher education has already experienced and need for further change, the imperative for institutions to become more "data-driven," and the need for reduced "friction" in the student experience, as their interactions with the institution shift from purely in-person, on campus interactions to those which have a significant technology component, from many different devices at many different times, and throughout the student lifecycle (from prospect to donor and all stages in between). What struck me during some of our sessions the following day when we convened a small panel of undergraduate students was just how clear they are about the need for this "frictionless" interaction with their institution, and the role they expect that institution to play (much more of an advisor and coach and mentor than of "parent"). There are definitely boundaries that students expect their institutions to observe in their use of social media and data, but those boundaries are dissimilar from the expectations they have from their interactions with commercial entities on the internet, which makes our jobs of creating the frictionless environment that much more difficult! But it was also evident from these discussions that we have a long way to go in our efforts to focus investments on student experience and engagement; that basic concepts like authenticating one time into the many systems with which students interact is still elusive. The sessions from OIC were recorded, and I'll post shortly the URLs for the various sessions where you can see them as they were delivered. Later in the day we examined topics like The Strategic Management of Academic Portfolios: Traceability to Cost of Education and Empowering Modern Finance in Higher Education, where experts like Erin Gore (formerly CFO of UC Berkeley and currently the head of education and non-profit banking at a large bank) and John Curry (former CFO of MIT, UCLA, and USC and currently with Deloitte) spoke on the need to modern technology and process to make informed decisions about strategic investments, as well as in the need to reduce the massive duplication and redundancy that exists on many campuses where local optimization for departments and divisional silos have been allowed to continue unchecked. All of this is in an effort to sift shrinking resources to teaching, learning, and research and reduce the overall cost of education (which, incidentally, was the primary focus of the Q&A following the Industry Connect keynote address from Dr. Condoleezza Rice!). For those of you that weren't able to join us for OIC 2015, I sincerely hope you'll consider this event next spring. While I realize I have a strong bias, I believe it was some of the best industry content, focused on the most relevant and pressing issues our industry faces, that I've been privileged to help deliver in quite some time.

Two important events occurred recently in Oracle education circles: Alliance (the global meeting of the independent Oracle Higher Education User Group or HEUG) in Nashville Tennessee, and Oracle...

December Strategy Council, Educause Top 10, Oracle Industry Connect 2015

Once again I am delinquent in writing about our most recentEducation Industry Strategy Council (ISC) Meeting, most recently held at ourheadquarters in Redwood Shores the first week in December. With so many other end-of-year activities Iwas negligent in writing an entry closer to the time of the meeting. Rather than outline the entire two-day agenda let me summarizeby saying it was almost entirely dedicated to Cloud, specifically the maturityof our business SaaS applications for higher education, the criticality ofPlatform as a Service in a hybrid environment (some services consumed as SaaS,some on premise) and lastly a deep dive into practical steps to get to Cloud inhigher education. I'll take these one ata time. First, Oracle’s commitment to SaaS business applications forhigher education. Much has been writtengenerally about Oracle being slow to adopt Cloud, a Cloud laggard, not seriousabout Cloud because of its huge investment and installed base of on-premisesoftware, etc. I believe that whileothers debate that in the larger context of the IT industry, no doubts remainedafter our ISC meeting last month that Oracle’s SaaS business applications areready for higher education, that we have a commitment to build the worlds mostflexible and configurable Student Cloud offering (beginning with somethingcalled Oracle Student Engagement) and, that Oracle is in a unique position tomeet the needs of higher education in the business apps space because of thestrong integration capabilities we offer to our huge set of on-premise assets(Peoplesoft, e-Business Suite, Hyperion, etc.) and finally, the extensibilityoffered through our Platform as a Service offerings which I’ll get to in amoment. The question for the majority ofthe members of the council around SaaS for functions like HR, Payroll, GL, andeven aspects of Student apps is when not if. In the area of PaaS, we spent a considerable amount of timepositioning this as a critical element of any institutions’ SaaS strategy since weagreed that for at least the next decade we will all be operating in a hybridenvironment, consuming services from the cloud as well as continuing tomaintain on-premise applications. Oracle’s Platform depicted here will consist not only of development(Java) services but also database, security & identity, and mobility. Further up the middleware stack, we offer process and dataintegration services, with prebuilt adapters to not only our own assets butmany competitors (SFDC, SAP, Workday, etc.) and a well documented API for thirdparties to build more (along with an App Store concept for partners to offertheir cloud apps through an Oracle “store”). Finally, we spent time discussing (both with our own teamand with a firm who has a great deal of experience in moving assets fromcustomer data centers to remotely managed environments: Deloitte) practicalapproaches to the move to hybrid Cloud. What does all this mean for higher education’s mission ofshifting more resources to teaching, learning, and research; graduating morestudents in less time, and all the while doing the above while reducingcosts? I think it will mean that IT willbecome much more strategic in a relatively short period of time in highereducation, moving from a shop managing physical assets and running software toa critical component in delivering on the institutions mission by sourcingservices from providers who can achieve much greater economies of scale, higherlevels of service and uptime, and who can continuously deliver innovation andimprovement without the need for massive and invasive upgrades andre-implementations. For more informationabout which cloud solution is right for you, take a look at Oracle’sCloud Solutions for the Modern Campus. I should also mention the significant role that Internet2played in our ISC meeting in December. As I’ve mentioned on these pages previously, we joined I2 this pastsummer, primarily as a way to dramatically scale up the adoption and awarenessof PaaS. Many thanks to Khalil Yazdiwho personally attended and presented. Wegot a number of volunteers from the ISC to help us with the service validationprocess for various PaaS services through I2, but if anyone reading this wantsto jump in, take a look at cloud.oracle.com, identify a service, and then sendme an email or leave me a message here. Shifting gears a bit, the Educausetop 10 list for 2015 is out. I haveto confess I got a much earlier preview of this from Susan Grajek when shepresented at the executive forums of both the Alliance Down Under and the ASIAHEUGs in November. I want to say brieflythat since Susan has taken a leadership role in developing the top 10 list, ithas (to me at least) become significantly more valuable and powerful in termsof not only framing up the real issues in higher Ed IT in “education business”terms but also in delivering clear messages about what we need to be doingbetter as a community and as an “industry” to get ahead on some of theseissues. While certainly not exhaustive,I wanted to comment on at least one issue: “Hiring and retaining qualified staff, and updating the knowledge andskills of existing technology staff.” This is an area directly related to the topics above around Cloud – theskills we need in higher ed IT should begin to shift to support the changes insourcing strategies for services; this is one of the areas where we could gowrong very quickly if we don't begin to make this shift now, given thetimeframes required to make staffing changes in higher education. Leadership will be especially critical – theimportance of the role of the CIO as a change agent and innovator has neverbeen more critical. Finally (if you've made it this far) I want to tell youabout our upcoming industry specific forum in Washington DC March 25th& 26th called OracleIndustry Connect. Education will befeatured at this forum for the first time, and it will be a purelythought-leadership driven track that I will host. We’ll set the stage with a paneldiscussion/fire-side chat with a few university presidents followed by sessionsfocused on institutional and operational excellence, student success supportedby an improved and personalized student experience, and personalized learningmodels. It's an invitation-only eventfor higher ed leaders, and if you’re interested in participating please drop mea note. To learn more about the specific Education sessions, check out theagenda… Til next time…

Once again I am delinquent in writing about our most recent Education Industry Strategy Council (ISC) Meeting, most recently held at ourheadquarters in Redwood Shores the first week in December. With...

Educause, Internet2, Gartner Symposium, Kuali

It's been a while since I've posted - as I think I've mentioned in earlier posts I really don't excel at blogging.  Posting short snippets of thought has never been my forte.  Perhaps that is why I don't tweet as often as some of my colleagues.  But on to the topic(s) at hand….I'm just coming back from two weeks in Orlando, where both Education 2014 and the Gartner Symposium were held.  Incidentally the week of Educause was also the week of Oracle OpenWorld.  So within a two-week timeframe there were a bunch of announcements that are relevant to education & research.The first of these (that got relatively little attention) was Oracle's announcement of joining Internet2, and our intention to develop, in partnership with I2's members, cloud service offerings from Oracle that will be made available via Net+.  I've followed what Net+ has been doing for the past several years with some interest, and while I wish we could have joined the organization sooner I do believe that the timing is optimal, primarily because of the aforementioned announcements coming from OpenWorld.  I would certainly forgive you if this escaped your notice, given the dozens of press releases during the conference, but many of them pertained to our PaaS (Platform as a Service).A lot has been written in the past several years regarding Oracle and Cloud, most of it misguided in my view.  The press love a good story and for some reason (perhaps because of some anti-cloud comments from our former CEO, now executive chairman) we have been painted into a corner as being "late to cloud" or "not committed to cloud."  I even read an article this week that actually said Oracle's cloud was "fake."The reality is quite a bit different and now I will circle back to I2 and Net+.  While we have huge focus on developing/acquiring/delivering applications in the cloud (HCM, Financials, CRM, our recently mentioned Student Information System initiative, etc.), it's this development of a robust, comprehensive PaaS cloud that is critically important in my view.  This is where I believe we'll see tremendous value from our relationship with Internet2.  In our PaaS cloud, we are delivering mobile services, identity and security services, and (most important) data and process integration aaS.Terri-Lynn Thayer, lead analyst for Gartner in higher ed, in her presentation entitled "Prepare Your Campus to Compete in a Digital Education Ecosystem" at the Industry Day during Gartner's Symposium, talked about the importance of iPaaS (integration Platform as a Service) as institutions shrink their core ERP systems down to a system of record and source a variety of services from public and private clouds.  I think this gets missed a lot in all the hype around cloud's promise of providing higher ed more agility; if the data and process integration foundation isn't solid, we will end up with a bigger mess than we have today with our heavily customized on-premiss applications.So to that end we will be putting a lot of emphasis on our PaaS in our I2 relationship.  More to come on that, particularly in the December timeframe when we meet with our global education & research industry strategy council.The other half of the Educause announcement we made last week pertained to our design partner for our Cloud Student initiative.  University of Wisconsin-Madison, Stanford, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and the University of Texas (system office) will be our four primary contributors from a core design partner standpoint.  We are close to adding a fifth partner in Europe which we should be in a a position to disclose after next week's EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) Higher Ed User Group (HEUG) meeting in Utrecht, NL as well as our EMEA education & research industry strategy council.  We believe this gives us a broad spectrum of the higher ed panoply from which to draw a great deal of insight and council as we build the next generation student system in the cloud with mobile and social attributes at the core of the development initiative.The last point I wanted to make in this post was around the recent decision by the Kuali Foundation to create a new for-profit entity.  Much as been written about this change, with a wide range of opinions on what is really under the surface and what questions this now raises.  As I've said many times before, much (not all, but much) of what Kuali has been positioned to deliver already exists as off-the-shelf (COTS) products, with multiple sources (i.e. robust competition) and a broad user community and ecosystem that develops and innovates around these products and platforms.  To me, the creation of the for-profit entity is demonstrable proof that open-source in the area of complex administrative and business apps in higher education is a bad idea.  It's totally against the grain of what needs to be "core" - teaching, learning, and research.  The move towards cloud applications and platforms in higher education (something we're aggressively pursuing) will in my view be the nail in the coffin.Don't get me wrong; there are definitely areas where Kuali (and other open source initiatives) fill gaps that the private sector will likely never pursue - Coeus and the open library environment are excellent examples.  Parts of Unizen may be another.  But in the broader areas of human resources management, financials, student information systems, and mobility where ample (and growing) competition exists to drive innovation up and costs down, there is no justification for investing shrinking resources in higher education on software development and support.

It's been a while since I've posted - as I think I've mentioned in earlier posts I really don't excel at blogging.  Posting short snippets of thought has never been my forte.  Perhaps that is why I...

Data vs. Information in Higher Education

I thought I would share the text of a letter that we've submitted to Senators Tom Harkin and Lamar Alexander, Chairman and Ranking Member of the HELP (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions) Committee where the Higher Education Re-authorization Act (HRA) and higher ed reform more broadly is being discussed and addressed.  While some of what is being discussed around higher ed reform doesn't intersect directly with Oracle's interests or strengths, the issue of leveraging data to make better decisions (i.e., converting data into useful information) is something that Oracle has not only a keen interest in but also considerable expertise from our work across many different industries.  -Cole  ---------------- July10, 2014 The Honorable Tom Harkin United States Senate Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor andPensions 428 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510 The Honorable Lamar Alexander United States Senate Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Laborand Pensions 835 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510 Dear Chairman Harkin and Senator Alexander: Oracle has a shared interest in data related to highereducation, and have watched with interest the series of hearings held by theSenate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP Committee) relatedto the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. We appreciate the thoughtful and deliberativeapproach taken by the Committee related to this reauthorization. While werealize the hearings thus far have not directly dealt with data they havetouched on the collection of better data in a general sense. Now thatlegislation has been introduced, we areoffering our comments on the topic of data asit relates to higher education and look forward to working with the Committeeas the bill makes its way through the legislative process. Oracle is a leader in providing innovative and comprehensivedata systems for institutions of higher education in the United States. Our software and hardware systems are thefoundations for the data platform in higher education throughout the country,with over 1400 campuses leveraging Oracle technology, 430 of which run OraclePeoplesoft Campus Solutions student information system, the core application ofthe academic enterprise. Our productsare used everywhere, from small community colleges to the largest world-class,multi-campus university systems. Over 11million students have data stored and processed using Oracle’s systems, morethan any other provider of its kind in the United States. PeopleSoft Campus Solutions is a comprehensive softwaresuite that provides institutions with support for the full student life-cycle,from prospects and recruiting to enrollment and alumni management. Our products allow institutions to provideservices and information to students, as well as prospective students, in aneasy to use format both online and in real-time. IndustryStrategy Council Oracle incorporates feedback from its most strategiccustomers through industry strategy councils. The longest standing of thesecouncils is Oracle’s Education & Research Industry Strategy Council. Meeting semi-annually, this group consists ofa broad range of 29 higher education institutions (with representation fromcommunity colleges to the largest AAU research universities) which providesinput on the most pressing issues facing higher education where technology canplay a pivotal role. DATAAND HIGHER EDUCATION Without question, higher education institutions are“data-rich” organizations that collect information on students at multiplepoints and for various purposes as they progress through educationalsystems. In fact, higher educationinstitutions likely possess more raw data and information on their studentsthan any other type of organization in any sector. While some institutions have structures andprocesses in place to analyze and use the data, few have the ability to quicklyturn that knowledge into timely action. DataSilosWithin most higher education institutions there exists a complex web ofdisconnected systems such as learning management, library, fund-raising,recruiting, human resources, financial systems, research grants, and more.Although these systems could benefit from sharing information with one another,most institutions do not have a uniform way to collect and compile the dataproduced. As a result, informationtechnology budgets on most campuses are heavily burdened by high costs to connectand maintain integrations between all these systems and the information theyhold, which is money that could be spent on higher-value projects to supportthe institution’s mission. Particularly at larger institutions, these divisions lead tonumerous data silos. A large researchuniversity is not unlike a mid-sized city with its own police and firedepartments, hundreds of buildings in a multitude of locations, thousands ofemployees and tens of thousands of constituents. The departments within such a systemroutinely collect information on students for a variety of purposes, and oftentimes this happens without coordination or sharing of information. For example, Student Financial Aid, theOffice of the Registrar, and the Student Affairs Department with a universitysystem all generate separate data that could be useful together, but the lackof collaboration and organization result in a missed chance to use data to tella comprehensive story. What are absentare the tools, data and IT governance structure, and the organizationalcapacity to turn data into meaningful information to drive student success. The keepers of the most data within college systems, Institutional Researchdepartments, typically spend much of their time compiling statistics into factbooks and meeting basic regulatory reporting requirements, and are rarelyfocused on the strategic use of data to support one of the core missions of theuniversity –increasing the productivity of teaching and learning. Operational and performance reporting hasfallen to the diverse silos of operations within the complex enterprise that isa higher education institution. DuplicativeData and Data Management While one might assume that there exists just one record foreach student within a system, this often is not the case and can cause problemson many levels. Human error is one contributing factor to duplicativedata. A seemingly insignificant mistakeentered into a system from day one can result in duplicate data that over time,contributes to inaccuracies in reporting and in many cases, a falserepresentation of student success (or lack thereof). For example, if an applicant uses the name“John B. Smith” during his first interface with a college, and simply “JohnSmith” during a subsequent interaction, two records have been created for theone student. In many instances, the“John B. Smith” record is never replaced or deleted, and can actually countagainst an institution as a non-progressing student or a dropout. Duplicative data is often created as a result ofdiscrepancies in “data definitions.” Institutions are routinely asked for dataon their student population, from various local, state and federal sources, allof which may ask for the exact same information, but in different ways. For example, there are numerous definitionsthat vary across federal and state program reporting, such as the definition ofa full-time student, ethnicity, dependency status, date of birth vs. age as ofa certain date and residency, to name just a few. These definitions vary across programs fromthe Department of Education to the Department of Labor to the Department ofHealth and Human Services to other agencies interacting with institutions ofhigher education. Time wasted to reporta duplicate record, as well as the amount of unnecessary data amassed as aresult are both serious and costly problems for institutions. Definitional confusion frequently becomes a volumemanagement issue. The volume of requiredcompliance reports is vast and made cumbersome by the multiple definitions ofdata that vary by report. This pullslimited resources from Institutional Research departments to focus onnon-strategic activities like compliance instead of valuable strategic analysissuch as evaluating student success and risk factors. IntegratedPostsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) As required by theHigher Education Act, the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System(IPEDS) is a system of surveys that collect data from all U.S. postsecondaryinstitutions that participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs. IPEDS collects data within a variety ofcategories, including institutional characteristics, completions, enrollment,student financial aid, graduation rates, finance, and human resources. While it may have been an appropriate toolfor capturing a snapshot of student populations in the past, it is essentialthat as the Committee considers reauthorization of the Higher Education Act,IPEDS is brought into the twenty first century. Students in 1966 experienced higher education verydifferently than students in 2014. Rather than applying for a specific program,staying in it until completion and subsequently becoming employed in thatspecific field, a typical student today may start out at a community college,change his or her major two or three times, transfer institutions, take a leaveof absence and return to school, or even reduce at some point to half-timestatus. The availability of on-linecourses from many different institutions contributes to the swirl though anacademic system versus a linear path at one institution. Market forces and employment trends pushstudents into different majors and schools, and family circumstances or simplythe high cost of a college degree can also impact how, where and why a studentattends college. We need to study students,not just institutions. Further, we needto recognize that each institution has a different mission, and meets the needsof its students in a unique way. Specific problems with IPEDS are well-documented and agreedupon across industries. For example, asnoted in a 2010 GAO Report, “IPEDS graduation rates only measure the outcomesfor first-time, full-time, degree/certificate seeking students, which comprise49 percent of entering students nationwide according to IPEDS data. Students who attend part-time or transfer inare not counted toward a school’s graduation rate. All nongraduates are treated as dropouts,even if they go on to graduate from another institution.”[1]We agree that this is a problem and symptomatic of an outdated system in needof refreshing. A more longitudinal method that provides a comprehensive, 360 degree view of astudent moving through and out of a system can make the same data much morevaluable and worth the time and financial resources institutions of highereducation invest into complying with IPEDS reporting rules. While a longitudinal view of a student’sprogression through higher education is a laudable goal, the endpoint should beinclusive of all learning, K-through-adult continuing education. ContextualizingData It is important to note that the repeated calls to link datato outcomes should be tempered with the reality that defining meaningfuloutcomes for all interested parties is extremely difficult. Although institutions can influence andsupport student success, we must remember that the mission of Federal StudentFinancial Aid programs, as defined by the Department of Education, are to “makecollege education possible for every dedicated mind.”[2] Although the ultimate goal of every academicinstitution is to educate students, the way each institution approaches thatmission can be almost as varied as the populations they serve. As a result, the outcomes for eachinstitution may be very different, but no less effective. For example, students often begin a program and acquire thesufficient skills and credentials to be hired by a company without having tocomplete the entirety of the program or earning a diploma. In such instances, the Department ofEducation fulfilled its mission by providing education to a dedicated student,and the student achieved his or her goal by gaining the skills necessary foremployment in the field of his or her choice. We can all agree that these are not “failure” type situations, and mustnot allow extremely strict or “one size fits all” definitions for studentsuccess. DATASOLUTIONS The reauthorization of the Higher Education Act presents anopportunity for Congress to amend antiquated policies and complex andduplicative reporting requirements that are costly and burdensome to institutionsof higher education. In addition,improving data reporting rules can help companies responsible for storing andprocessing student data, like Oracle, to create products and applications thatcan help students, faculty and employees of higher education institutions getthe most out of their time and efforts. CreatingAdditional Resources for Student Services Our Education & Research Industry Strategy Councilmembers have shared concerns with us regarding the countless hours andresources they must commit to ensuring they are in compliance with federalregulations. Simplification of data collection requirements across the boardwould allow institutions to better fulfill their individual missions byutilizing their resources to focus on serving the students themselves. Regardless of type, every single department withinan institution of higher education desires for its staff to spend less timebehind computer screens collecting, analyzing and reporting on data, and moretime enriching and improving upon the experiences of their studentpopulation. Academic AdvisingDepartments can spend more time keeping students on the quickest and mostefficient pathways to completion, and provide students with additionalresources on their career choice or professions. Researchers could spend more time producingresearch, and less time jumping through administrative hoops. One Council member recently reported that its Financial AidOffice spends approximately 85% of its resources tracking, monitoring orreporting in order to follow federal regulations. This is clearly a tremendous burden andexpense for the institutions, which must abide by a number of separate programsthat each come with its own rules and regulations that do not coincide with oneanother. Further, such systems must beset up and maintained separately, but must work together as each influences theeligibility for the other. For instance,each institution has its own refund policies for students who do not completetheir enrollment in a term. FinancialAid must independently perform intricate calculations using specific guidelinesto determine if funds must be returned to various federal programs. It is our firm belief that it is possible to simplifyreporting requirements and enrich student experiences while at the same timecollecting and synthesizing information necessary to ensure the integrity andquality of our nation’s institutions of higher education. IncreasedEfficiency through Simplification Streamlining data collection requirements could also allowcompanies like Oracle toimprove the products we offer to institutions of higher education. If the systems we create, operate andmaintain are less complex to develop, we can increase our speed of delivery anddeployment to our higher education clients, enabling them to operate moreefficiently. With additional time and resources, Oracle could shift emphasistowards more modern technologies such as predictive analytics, device-awareaccess (mobility), and embedded social capabilities, which would lead toincreased utilization and collaboration among our higher educationconstituents. As mentioned previously,common data definitions could allow for data to be transferred more easily andefficiently, which would make the interface easier to navigate and drawconclusions from. Further, harmonizationof data definitions could help us to make the interface more user-friendly, andultimately result in greater adoption among students, faculty and staff. Finally, data standardization would be an enabler for commonbusiness processes across institutions, which could lead to increases in sharedservices between and among higher education institutions. Significant efficiency and effectivenessgains could be realized if there were a greater reliance on sharedinfrastructure (public and/or private cloud technologies). For example, community college systems withinstates could share a common instance of human resources (human capitalmanagement), financial, and student administration systems, among others. The goal shared among servicers, institutions, and Congressduring the Higher Education process is above all, to improve opportunities forstudents to gain a quality education. Itis our belief that the challenges and suggestions outlined above could helpthat goal become a reality. Sincerely, ColeClark GlobalVice President, Higher Education and Research Industry Business Unit, Oracle Chair,Higher Education and Research, Industry Strategy Council [1]GAO Report to Congress – “Institutions’ Reported Data Collection Burden isHigher Than Estimated but Can be Reduced through Increased Coordination” (2010)p22 [2]“Who We Are” United States Department ofEducation Federal Student Financial Aid website. <http://studentaid.ed.gov/about>

I thought I would share the text of a letter that we've submitted to Senators Tom Harkin and Lamar Alexander, Chairman and Ranking Member of the HELP (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions) Committee...

Summer in DC

I just wrapped up a week in DC for our Education & Research Industry Strategy Council (ISC) - the seventh meeting over which I've presided since stepping into my current role. It's exceptionally gratifying to see how much we've progressed in three short years.  We now have a fairly regular dialog with policy officials in Washington, a robust agenda touching on a variety of issues that are in focus for higher education executives, and tying all of that together with a technology underpinning.   We had exceptional turnout of the members as well, including new participation from Vanderbilt, Illinois State, Seneca, McMaster, Chicago, and Valdosta State. The agenda themes for this session included a Cybersecurity in Higher Education, Information Discovery, Student Success, and Higher Education Cloud.  Two days was not enough time!  While we did spend a considerable portion of the discussing and deliberating, I do think we need more time to tee up issues and have more open discussion than presentations.  It's a hard balance to strike, given that the mission of the ISC is multifaceted (exposing the ISC to new ideas and technologies, getting input on our strategy in education and research, providing access to Oracle executives, and facilitating dialog with policy officials) but the real value comes from the interactions and we need have more of that throughout the time we are together. I was most impressed by the amount of interest we had from the members of congress that spent time with the council.  We had three Senators (Isaacson from GA, Murphy from CT and Casey from PA), and two members of the House (Foxx from NC and Petri from WI).  Further, Undersecretary of Education Jamie Studley joined us for a long conversation about the proposed higher ed rating system and the implications for data and information in driving those rankings. The real in-depth discussions, however, were reserved for our Higher Ed Cloud session.  It's clear to me that while the broader industry in moving to Cloud aggressively, higher ed is taking a more deliberate approach, and we need to provide guidance and leverage some of the lessons learned and best practices from other industries who've already made this journey.  There is a real opportunity here for higher ed to become more agile and nimble in order to adapt more rapidly to the dynamics in higher education, but equally possible that they could rush headlong into Cloud for Cloud's sake without a plan and create more issues than already exist in higher ed IT today. Overall I was very pleased with the outcome but the real test will be in the feedback we receive from the approx. 30 member institutions.  I am already looking forward to December when we reconvene in Redwood Shores!

I just wrapped up a week in DC for our Education & Research Industry Strategy Council (ISC) - the seventh meeting over which I've presided since stepping into my current role. It's exceptionally...

Latin America HEUG and EUNIS

I wanted to post a few quick notes on a couple of recent events in education IT that were positive developments for the community and for Oracle.First was the inaugural Latin America Higher Education User Group May 29-30. The event was held in Bogotá and Universidad Javeriana acted as the host institution.   Roberto Montoya, Vice President for Administration and Finance, played a large roll in getting this first-ever LATAM HEUG off the ground, as did the executive team from HEUG (Lew Connor, Steve Hahn, and many others). With over 180 attendees, it struck me as a real success. Of course there was the focus on specific applications and products, roadmaps and plans, but there was a theme running through the event of the need to align IT to the strategic goals of transition and transformation in the academy; the real imperative to change the way we examine, acquire, deploy, and derive value from IT in higher education. We added two universities in the region to the Oracle higher education family on the Friday of the conference, and I look forward to supporting this community and participating in next year's event in Lima.There is an unspoken hero, however, that deserves significant recognition, at least in terms of Oracle's overall presence at the meeting. That is Luz Marina Torres Forero (or Luz Ma as we call her). She and her team did an amazing job of rounding up the necessary resources to ensure our support of the customers and prospects attending the event felt comfortable and welcome. This is a difficult job to do for events that span multiple countries in a region.I also want to mention another meeting that is long-standing but is relatively new for us at Oracle and that is EUNIS Congress (European University Information Systems). EUNIS has been around for many many years but Oracle has not participated (beyond attending) for quite some number of years, and so it was gratifying to join with this community at their meeting in Umeå Sweden at Umeå University, and speak to the group on leveraging IT for transformation in higher education. In addition to presenting I was able to listen to a number of the other talks given at the meeting, and I was especially excited by the message "The Death of IT" from Michiel Boreel, CTO of the Sogeti Group. He talked about the transition we are experiencing globally from "IT" to "BT" (business technology), and how that is driving a shift in emphasis and focus from the "What" of IT (applications, servers, wires, databases... basically all the "stuff") to the "Why" (what is the business value and the resulting transformations that result from the initiative). He also talked about the imperative to infuse the senior leadership team with people who "get" this "BT" thinking, and while his talk had little to do with education, I think this message is so applicable to our leadership in higher education (and frankly ALL education) today. We need people in leadership roles who understand "BT" and can partner with IT leaders to drive the necessary change in the academy to harness the capabilities that technology has the potential to deliver. But it comes from cultural and process change happening first - throwing the "What" of IT at education is largely waiting valuable human and capital resources.This was a great start for us in the EUNIS community and we've already committed to 2015 and 2016. I look forward to engaging with this group in the coming months and speaking at their next conference at Abertay University in Dundee, Scotland next year.

I wanted to post a few quick notes on a couple of recent events in education IT that were positive developments for the community and for Oracle. First was the inaugural Latin America Higher Education...

Own the Problem

Most if not all of my blog entries since taking the role of global VP for Oracle's Education and Research Industry team have been about, well, Oracle and/or Education and Research.  Today, however, I want to use this space to pay tribute to someone who's made a significant impact in my life and career, and also to talk about role models and the important place they hold in our societies as managers, mentors, and advisors.To provide some context, my boss of three years is retiring.  I've had a lot of bosses.  In fact when Juan (Rada, the individual in question) announced his intent to retire at the end of our fiscal year (May 31) I tried counting all of my bosses since college.  I've only worked for three companies (Apple, Sun, and Oracle) + a little time in a university IT organization (the medical school at the University of Tennessee), but by my count I've worked for 15 different bosses since taking my first job out of college in 1988.  That doesn't include bosses during part time work in high school and college (I held a job of some sort since the 10th grade).All of my bosses had the usual mix of strengths and weaknesses; some were much better than others in terms of being mentors and coaches; some were just successful people as individual contributors that were promoted (without really possessing strong management skills); like most people I've had a small minority (but still significant) that made my life a living hell.   But across that entire portfolio, good and bad, I can confidently say that I've learned something from every experience.However the last three years have been for me (and I expect for most of my colleagues in Juan's orbit) an extremely rare mix of development, learning, growth, and broadening of perspective that I think only a few of us are privileged to experience.  Juan has an incredible array of experiences, coming to Europe as a political refugee from a country he will now spend part of his time in retirement assisting and advising (Chile), he has been one of the preeminent leaders in all things "industry" at Oracle.  He has understood the vast treasure trove of IP that can be brought to bear on industry problems, and how to maneuver through a large complex organization to bring those solutions to life.Granted my circumstance my be somewhat different than the others on Juan's team, but I can certainly say I've grown more professionally in the last three years than in the previous 10.  Some of that growth came from new challenges presented by the role - this is the first global position I've held in education since entering the field 25 years ago - but much of what I take away comes from the exceptional perspective (taking the long view), patience, and people skill that Juan has taught me by example.It's no secret that Education has been at times a challenging industry at Oracle - where financial services, media, telecommunications, and other industries with large concentrations of spend in small numbers of customers abound.  In his most recent role, Juan's industries included government, health care and life sciences, utilities, and education, and on a pure global revenue basis education was # 4 of those five sectors.  Nevertheless, Juan understood the criticality of succeeding in education, given the importance to our society as well as to Oracle (as education represents 8% of GDP globally, which puts it just behind healthcare and just above military spending).  Time and time again, when I would hit a roadblock and want to give in to my fatalistic tendencies, he would (subtly) help me see a different path.I guess what I'm most grateful for is being given the opportunity to do this job in the first place.  Three years ago this role didn't exist, and Juan went to extraordinary lengths (there was considerable pressure at the time not to create the position) to invest in a global leader for education.  I am my own worst critic when it comes to stuff like this, but thanks to an amazing (small) team, I believe we've made progress, and we can look Juan in the eyes and say that, while there is still much more to accomplish, we've made demonstrable progress.Juan's parting words to me and my colleagues at a dinner we held for him celebrating his years in Oracle were "Always act as if you Own the Problem."  Those words will live in my thoughts and actions for many, many years to come.  God Speed, my friend.

Most if not all of my blog entries since taking the role of global VP for Oracle's Education and Research Industry team have been about, well, Oracle and/or Education and Research.  Today, however, I...

"This Week" @ Inside Higher Ed, the Tambellini Report, and other random thoughts

I realize it's been some time since my last post - updating blogs in short, stream-of-consciousness bursts doesn't always come naturally. However I do have a number of somewhat unrelated items that I want to highlight.  First off, I'm very pleased that Oracle Education & Research will be a founding sponsor of the upcoming "This Week" @ Inside Higher Ed weekly audio newscast. This will be in many respects very much like a "meet the press" weekly program that will touch on the timely and relevant topics in education technology, along with the policies, funding, and cultural and political dynamics and issues that are prevalent in our industry. Casey Green is spearheading this effort with Inside Higher Ed, and we are extremely pleased to sponsor what we believe will be a strong contributor to the dialog that needs to take place as our industry undergoes significant change and transformation. As are part of our participate in the "This Week" series, we will be engaging in quarterly podcasts with Casey to talk about Oracle's position in the industry and where we see our industry solutions playing a role in enabling some of the transformation I just referenced. The first of these will take place on May 7, 9am PT, "Pathways to Student Success" webinar.  Register for this webinar where my colleague, Mark Armstrong, and I discuss Oracle's latest investment for Student Success with moderator, Casey Green. Lastly, here's where you can go to get more subscriber information about This Week" @ Inside Higher Ed weekly audio newscast. In other developments, the 2014 Tambellini Report (created and distributed by Tambellini Group, LLC) was released this week (week of April 28) and shows extremely strong results for Oracle in the Student Information Systems market, with nearly three times the selections of any other competitor. This validates a couple of trends I've commented on previously: that we are entering a era where the business systems of higher education implemented 10+ years ago are in need of a refresh, and the staying power of niche vendors who lack the breadth and depth of a multi-industry, multi national company like Oracle are being severely challenged. Finally I wanted to highlight a number of the topics and agenda themes that we'll be discussing at our upcoming summer Industry Strategy Council meeting in Washington DC: Cyber Security in Higher Education, Student Success, Information Discovery in Higher Education, and SaaS business applications for Higher Education. We'll be joined by our Chief Security Officer Mary Ann Davidson, Jamie Studley from DoED, and several members of congress from committees focused on higher education policy. We are welcoming several new members to the council including Vanderbilt University, Seneca College, and the University of Chicago. We're looking forward to a content-rich two-days in downtown DC! Stay tuned where I'll share some of these outcomes in my next blog.

I realize it's been some time since my last post - updating blogs in short, stream-of-consciousness bursts doesn't always come naturally. However I do have a number of somewhat unrelated items that I...

After months of rumors, it's official… Oracle announces Cloud Student

Greetings from Alliance 2014 in sunny Las Vegas, where today we made a number of announcements about increased investment by Oracle in the higher education market.   During the opening reception last night and in more detail this morning, we outlined our plans to build (from the ground up) a new Student Information System (Oracle Cloud Student) that will be offered as SaaS and designed with the modern student in mind.  Make no mistake, this product will have the student, and the student's success, at the foundation of the development effort upon which we are embarking.  There will be a strong focus on mobile, social, and the student experience, with a significant amount of attention given to the "modern" (now what some might even call "traditional") multi-channel student who takes courses across multiple institutions, some (to potentially all) on-line, and in some cases "on-demand" (i.e. term-less).  It will embed predictive analytics,  which will significantly enhance the modern academy's effort to improve student success.Probably the biggest overlooked element in all of this is the enormous head start we have as a company given the massive investments in SaaS, Cloud infrastructure, CX, and analytics.  No other company on the planet can draw on the rich portfolio of IP, development talent, deployment and implementation experience, and industry expertise than Oracle.   While I've said in this blog in the past that it's a very exciting time to be a part of the higher education IT ecosystem at this point in the industry's evolution, our focus on developing a modern SIS for higher ed of 2015 and beyond makes this period even more compelling.Our CEO was personally involved in approving these projects, and we aren't stopping with just a new Cloud SIS.  We're building higher education-specific functionality into our existing robust SaaS HCM and ERP products, so that colleges and universities have the option of running their entire business systems footprint on Oracle's Education Cloud.And given the breadth and depth (both from an IP as well as from a financial stability perspective) we are continuing to develop, enhance, and improve the already most mature, functional, and global suite of business systems for higher education: Peoplesoft Campus Solutions, HCM, and ERP.   While many have assumed these were zombie products, the delivered features and enhancements in Campus alone over the past 8 quarters are greater than all of the R&D done on the product in the prior 5 years.  To help the market understand this commitment to our existing portfolio, we will be launching Campus Solutions 9.2 concurrent with the Cloud announcements I mentioned above.I can't end this post without a final comment on "cloud.  The hype around cloud computing is palpable.  Many of the new entrants into the market like to paint Oracle into a corner as "legacy" and "non-cloud."  But with this announcement, as well as with the capabilities we have today with our complete end-to-end stack and investment in all Cloud "layers" (IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS), there is no software consumption modality that we cannot provide at extreme performance and extreme efficiency and cost-effectiveness (again, because of the end-to-end capabilities we have in designing how the software and hardware are integrated to work together).  We've learned a lot from many other industries' foray into Cloud and believe now is the time for us to help higher education as it embarks on a similar journey.

Greetings from Alliance 2014 in sunny Las Vegas, where today we made a number of announcementsabout increased investment by Oracle in the higher education market.   During the opening reception last...

Another Oracle Education and Research Industry Strategy Council is in the books

December 4-5 were the dates for our winter Industry Strategy Council meeting that we hold semi-annually, with the December sessions always being at our headquarters in Redwood Shores California.  Institutions participating included the Cal State system, Georgia Tech, Qatar University, Griffith University (Australia), University of Maryland, Western Ontario, Michigan, Central Florida, and  Kansas (to name a few).  We discussed some exciting new announcements in our higher education applications portfolio (under non-disclosure), a status report on Sun Microsystems inside Oracle, 3 years after acquisition, our strategy for research, and our views on operational excellence.  We had tremendous third party participation in a number of these sessions include Erin Gore, EVP of higher ed at a major bank (former CFO of UC Berkeley), John Fowler, or SVP for Systems, Steve Miranda our EVP for application product development, and Joanne Olson our EVP for North America Applications sales.We have a three-fold objective with these meetings: to garner input from the council on our strategy, to inform and provide insight on our strategy in a way not available to the bulk of our customer and prospect base, and to provide a networking and interaction opportunity for the council members not only among themselves but also with senior executives from Oracle.While it's impossible for me to be specific given that some of what was discussed at the meeting was confidential, some of the news shared this week hallmark a major "doubling down" for Oracle in the education & research industry with significant plans to increase out investment and portfolio in this area.  Stay tuned for more information on what these announcements entail in a future blog entry.  But suffice it to say there has never been a more exciting time for Oracle in Education & Research.

December 4-5 were the dates for our winter Industry Strategy Council meeting that we hold semi-annually, with the December sessions always being at our headquarters in Redwood Shores California. ...

The Arab HEUG is now a reality, and other random thoughts

I just returned from Doha, Qatar where the first of its kindHEUG (Higher Education User Group) meeting for institutions in the Middle Eastand North Africa was held at Qatar University and jointly hosted by DammanUniversity from Saudi Arabia. Over 80 delegatesattended including representation from education institutions in Oman, SaudiArabia, Lebanon, and Qatar. There are many other regional HEUG organizations in place(in Australia/New Zealand, APAC, EMEA, as well as smaller regional HEUG’s inthe Netherlands, South Africa, and in regions of the US), but it was truly anaccomplishment to see this Middle East/North Africa group organize and launchtheir chapter with a meeting of this quality. To be known as the Arab HEUG going forward, I am excited about theprospects for sharing between the institutions and for the growth of Oraclesolutions in the region. In particularthe hosts for the event (Qatar University) did a masterful job with logisticsand organization, and the quality of the event was a testament to theircapabilities. Among the more interesting and enlightening presentations Iattended were one from Dammam University on the lessons learned from theirimplementation of Campus Solutions and transition off of Banner, as well as theuse by Qatar University E-business Suitefor grants management (both pre-and post-award). The most notable fact coming from this latterpresentation was the fit (89%) of e-Business Suite Grants to the university’srequirements. In a few weeks time we will be convening the 5thmeeting of the Oracle Education & Research Industry Strategy Council inRedwood Shores (5th since my advent into my current role). The main topics of discussion will be aroundour Higher Education Applications Strategy for the future (including cloudapproaches to ERP (HCM, Finance, and Student Information Systems), how somecases studies on the benefits of leveraging delivered functionality andextensibility in the software (versus customization). On the second day of the event we will turn our attention toOracle in Research and also budgeting and planning in higher education. Both of these sessions will includesignificant participation from council members in the form of paneldiscussions. Our EVP’s for Systems (JohnFowler) and for Global Cloud Services and North America application sales(Joanne Olson) will join us for the discussion. I recently read a couple of articles that were surprising tome. The first was from Inside Higher Edon October 15 entitled, “As colleges prepare for major softwareupgrades, Kuali tries to woo them from corporate vendors.” It continues to disappoint me that after allthis time we are still debating whether it is better to build enterprisesoftware through open or community source initiatives when fully functional,flexible, supported, and widely adopted options exist in the marketplace. Over a decade or more ago when thesesolutions were relatively immature and there was a great deal of turnover inthe market I could appreciate the initiatives like Kuali. But let’s not kid ourselves – the realobjective of this movement is to counter a perceived predatory commercialsoftware industry. Again, whencommercial solutions are deployed as written without significant customization,and standard business processes are adopted, the cost of these solutions(relative to the value delivered) is quite low, and certain much lower than themassive investment (and risk) in in-house developers to support a bespokecommunity source system. In this era ofcost pressures in education and the need to refocus resources on teaching,learning, and research, I believe it’s bordering on irresponsible to continueto pursue open-source ERP. Many of theadopter’s total costs are staggering and have little to show for their effortsand expended resources. The second article was recently in the Chronicle of HigherEducation and was entitled “’Big Data’ Is Bunk, Obama Campaign’s TechGuru Tells University Leaders.” This one was so outrageous Ialmost don’t want to legitimize it by referencing it here. In the article the writer relays statementsmade by Harper Reed, President Obama’s former CTO for his 2012 re-electioncampaign, that big data solutions in education have no relevance and are akinto snake oil. He goes on to state thatwhile he’s a fan of data-driven decision making in education, most of thenecessary analysis can be accomplished in Excel spreadsheets. Yeah… right. This is exactly whatails education (higher education in particular). Dozens of shadow and siloed systems runningon spreadsheets with limited-to-no enterprise wide initiatives to harness thedata-rich environment that is a higher ed institution and transform the datainto useable information. I’ll grant Mr.Reed that “Big Data” is overused and hackneyed, but imperatives like improvingstudent success in higher education are classic big data problems thatdata-mining and predictive analytics can address. Further, higher ed need to be producing amassive amount more data scientists and analysts than are currently in thepipeline, to further this discipline and application of these tools to manymany other problems across multiple industries.

I just returned from Doha, Qatar where the first of its kind HEUG (Higher Education User Group) meeting for institutions in the Middle Eastand North Africa was held at Qatar University and jointly...

College Ratings via the Federal Government

A few weeks back you might remember news about a higher educationrating system proposal from the Obama administration. As I've discussed previously, political andstakeholder pressures to improve outcomes and increase transparency arestronger than ever before. The executive branch proposal is intended to makeprogress in this area. Quoting from theproposal itself, "The ratings will be based upon such measures as: Access,such as percentage of students receiving Pell grants; Affordability, such asaverage tuition, scholarships, and loan debt; and Outcomes, such as graduationand transfer rates, graduate earnings, and advanced degrees of collegegraduates.” This is going to be quite complex, to say the least. Most notably, higher ed is notmonolithic. From community and other2-year colleges, to small private 4-year, to professional schools, to largepublic research institutions…the many walks of higher ed life are, well,many. Designing a ratings system thatdoesn't wind up with lots of unintended consequences and collateral damage willbe difficult. At best you would end uppotentially tarnishing the reputation of certain institutions that wereactually performing well against the metrics and outcome measures that makesense in their "context" of education. At worst you could spend a lotof time and resources designing a system that would lose credibility with its"customers". A lot of institutions I work with already have in placesystems like the one described above. They are tracking completion rates, completion timeframes, transfers toother institutions, job placement, and salary information. As I talk to these institutions there areseveral constants worth noting: • Deciding on which metrics to measure iscomplicated. While employment and salarydata are relatively easy to track, qualitative measures are moredifficult. How do you quantify thebenefit to someone who studies in onefield that may not compensate him or heras well as another field but that provides huge personal fulfillment and rewardis a difficult measure to quantify? • The data is available but the systems to transform thedata into actual information that can be used in meaningful ways are not. Too often in higher ed information is siloed.As such, much of the data that need to be a part of a comprehensive system sit in multiple organizations, oftentimesoutside the reach of core IT. • Politics and culture are big barriers. One of the areas that my team and I spend alot of time talking about with higher ed institutions all over the world is theimperative to optimize for student success. This, like the tracking of the students’ achievement after graduation,requires a level or organizational capacity that does not currently exist. The primary barrier is the culture of"data islands" in higher ed, and the need for leadership to drive outthe divisions between departments, schools, colleges, etc. and instituteacademy-wide analytics and data stewardship initiatives that will enablestudent success. • Data quality is a very big issue. So many disparate systems exist (some onpremise, some "in the cloud") that keep data about"persons" using different means to identify them. Establishing asingle source of truth about an individual and his or her data is difficultwithout some type of data quality policy and tools. Good tools actually exist but are seldomleveraged. Don't misunderstand - I think it's a great idea to driveadditional transparency and accountability into the system of higher education.And not just at home, but globally. Students and parents need access to key data to make informed, responsiblechoices. The tools exist to not onlyenable this kind of information to be shared but to capture the very metrics stakeholders care most about and in a way that makes sense in the contextof a given institution's "place" in the overall higher ed panoply.

A few weeks back you might remember news about a higher education rating system proposal from the Obama administration. As I've discussed previously, political andstakeholder pressures to improve...

Higher Ed ERP and Cloud

The past couple of weeks have been a relative frenzy in the ordinarily mundane world of higher ed "administrative" IT or ERP.  Most notable was the much-anticipated Workday announcement of an intention to build a SaaS Student Information System (Workday Student).  This caught almost no one by surprise given that their partner institutions are talking and their recent hires into leadership roles telegraphed this rather overtly. The topic of Cloud and SaaS in education IT is one that I've devoted considerable air time to, both on this blog as well as in our forum with a number of global education partners (our Industry Strategy Council, or ISC, that meets twice a year).  Inevitably the conversation and discussion always seems to come back to a couple of key questions: 1) Will it lower costs? 2) Will anyone consume it if it's offered? The attraction to SaaS applications in higher ed is almost always the allure of lowering costs associated with the acquisition, maintenance, upgrades, and management of an on-premise application.  Further, many I talk to actually admit that they'd love to use the SaaS vendors upgrade schedule (which is the upgrade schedule all of its customers will be on, like it or not) as the justification for business process standardization and implementation of strict IT governance (i.e. thou shalt not customize).  Meaning: We can't enforce the needed governance ourselves, so we need a SaaS solution to impose it on us, leveraging the justification of reduced costs. There seems to be a perception that Oracle isn't part of the Cloud revolution in IT or has been "slow to adopt the cloud."  I am astonished by this given the facts, but perception is often reality.  But shouldn't we really be talking about, given the fundamental realities of higher ed institutions and their overall structure, SaaS is really workable in all cases?  Brian Voss in his recent blog post "On the Future of Administrative Information Technology" comments that many administrative systems in higher ed are reaching their 10 or 20 year anniversaries and that commercial vendors of IT for higher ed are discontinuing support for older products, leading to a potential wave of replacements in the coming years.  These same issues confront many commercial enterprises - what is different in my view is that higher ed has for the most part (and I am falling victim to something I generally despise - broad generalizations) been largely unable to contain costs and extract a great deal of value from admin IT because it lacks strong IT governance.   SaaS WILL NOT solve this problem. One of the many business transformation partners that my team and I have worked with over the years is a firm called the Hackett Group.  For the winter meeting of the ISC I referenced earlier, representatives from Hackett in partnership with one of their clients (and ISC member) the University of Michigan, presented on the IT rationalization project they had embarked upon at Michigan and also generalized to the overall "world class" benchmark of higher ed vs. other commercial organizations that exhibited "world class" performance.  What was clear in nearly every category was that while higher ed overall has done a reasonable job containing costs, it still spends a preponderance of its IT resources on largely "transactional" (vs. strategic) functions - even higher in fact that what is exhibited by public sector (government) IT organizations in the US. There is no question that the Workday announcement for a SaaS SIS will garner a lot of attention, and in fact it will have a positive impact on us as strong competition always has on the industry.  But I caution my colleagues, partners, customers, etc. not to get hung up on the shiny new object and lose sight of the real issue that has the greatest opportunity to enable higher ed organizations to realize value from strategic investments in IT: standardized infrastructure and systems simplification hold the key to IT truly becoming a strategic resource for the institution.

The past couple of weeks have been a relative frenzy in the ordinarily mundane world of higher ed "administrative" IT or ERP.  Most notable was the much-anticipated Workday announcement of an...

Shamless Plug for Oracle OpenWorld

It's almost that time of year again - Oracle OpenWorld 2013 is just over a month away in San Francisco Sept. 22-27.  OpenWorld has always seen relative solid attendance from Education & Research customers; usually between 1000-1500 individuals that attend OOW and JavaOne are from the education industry.  But from an executive and leadership standpoint, the conference hasn't been a significant draw. In 2013 we're hoping to change that.  Not only do we have 5 general OpenWorld sessions planned (see below), but this year we're launching our first ever Education summit at Leader's Circle, an invitation-only event for customer and partner executives, showcasing Oracle's vision and strategy.  During our 3.5 hour summit on Sept. 25, the main attraction will be a panel focusing on advanced analytics as a foundation for enterprise-wide student success initiatives.   Joining me will be Mark Becker, President of Georgia State University, John Webster, CIO of Maricopa Community Colleges, Nicole Engelbert of OVUM, Abdullah Togay, from the National Ministry of Education, Turkey, Gordon Wishon, CIO, Arizona State University, and Steve Hahn, President of the Higher Education Users Group. Advanced Analytics and Student Success have been described as the "killer app" in education today, and we hope through this session at OOW to share some experiences and best practices across a wide swath of the education landscape on how these applications are being implemented, what steps are being taken to enable them enterprise-wide, and how a cultural change in the institution is necessary in order to move these projects from departmental and siloed to enterprise and scale. If you are an executive in any walk of life in the education arena and are interested in joining us for the session in September, please reach out to me at cole.clark@oracle.com. And as mentioned, here's an overview of our 5 sessions at OpenWorld this year: –CON9612 Monday 9/23, Intercontinental Hotel, Time:10:45am Achieve Student Success with UnifiedProcesses and Insight –CON9613 Monday 9/23, Intercontinental Hotel, Time: 12:45pm Oracle Learning Exchange –CON9614 Monday 9/23, Intercontinental Hotel, Time: 1:45pm Improve Operational Efficiency to AchieveInstitutional Excellence –CON10726 Monday 9/23, Intercontinental Hotel, Time:3:15pm Campus Solutions: Supporting theGlobal Future of Higher Education –CON8715 MosconeWest , 3rd Floor Transforming theConstituent Experience in the Education Industry -Cole It's It's .htmtableborders, .htmtableborders td, .htmtableborders th {border : 1px dashed lightgrey ! important;}html, body { border: 0px; } body { background-color: #ffffff; } img, hr { cursor: default }

It's almost that time of year again - Oracle OpenWorld 2013 is just over a month away in San Francisco Sept. 22-27.  OpenWorld has always seen relative solid attendance from Education & Research...

The Summer ISC and the Futures Forum

The summer meeting of our semi-annual industry strategy council (ISC) took place in Washington DC at the end of June.  We enjoyed the highest percentage of member participation since I've been leading this group, and the range of topics we covered included our student success solution, our work in the area of student experience (which includes many of our social relationship management tools), an update on our investments in our student information analytics and student information system products, and a update on our budgeting and planning tools for higher ed.  All of that was covered in the first day, with the second day reserved primarily for discussions with policy officials from Congress and from the current administration (DoE) regarding policies and initiatives in higher education where information technology can play an enabling or supporting role.   During this second day we heard from Richard Culetta (Director of Education Technology) at DoE, Chairwoman Virginia Foxx of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, Congressman Luke Messer of Indiana, also on the Higher Education Subcommittee, and Matt Chingos, fellow, at the Brookings Institute.  We were hoping to have Senatos Rubio and Wyden, authors of the "Student Right to Know Before You Go" bill which they introduced through the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, but the immigration reform bill which came to a vote on the very day we were meeting took up their schedule.  However, we had Emily Bouch (Senator Rubio's Legislative Aide on Education Policy) and Laura Bernsten (Senator Wyden's Domestic Policy Advisory) who crafted the bill visit with the ISC and engaged in a spirited debate on it's merits. We also filmed a number of short interviews with several of the council members which, once through post-production, we'll post to our website and also place links here. Several key themes emerged from the two days of meetings with the council.  One is that we have much work to do at Oracle making sense of the myriad of products, especially those recently acquired, in terms of their value and how they enable solutions to the thorniest problems faced by higher education.  Another is that the role of IT in higher education is slowly changing.  IT leadership is becoming more strategic although the tactical and transactional demands haven't waned.  Many of the members expressed their view that Oracle's engagement with higher ed over the past two years has really changed (for the positive), both in terms of product strategy but also in terms of field engagement.  We have a few members on the council that are not from IT (CFO's, Presidents, COO's) and these representatives consistently communicate how IT is by far the most important (aside from funding and personnel) strategic asset the institution has to maintain and improve competitiveness. The Forum on the Future of Higher Education The strategic nature of IT in education was reinforced for me at the forum referenced above.  I missed this conference in 2012, but after seeing the output from the meeting I pledged to myself that I wouldn't miss it in 2013.  There was not an IT leader in the 100+ person group (aside from me), but big data and analytics themes ran through virtually all of the discussions, as well as the need to leverage technology to strengthen our major research university's competitiveness in the global research arena.  The changing business model was also at the forefront of the conference, and the need to use tools and "world class" best practices from industry's use of IT to not only run the "business" but also model the business in a future state that may be significantly different from today's reality was clear. As an added bonus, I met many of our ISC's members bosses at the Future's Forum! Our next meeting is already being planned for December.  We plan to devote a much larger chunk of the agenda to the research enterprise, to budgeting and planning in higher education, and to security and access management.  Watch this spot later for more details.

The summer meeting of our semi-annual industry strategy council (ISC) took place in Washington DC at the end of June.  We enjoyed the highest percentage of member participation since I've been leading...

The "Gold" in effeciency & effectiveness in higher ed IT

During this year's Alliance conference in Indianapolis (the North America conference of the HEUG - Higher Ed Users Group) the HEUG board decided to experiment with a new concept to enable some executive level strategic discussions among a select group of leaders from higher ed represented through the HEUG.  This group, billed for now as the "Executive Advisory Group" was made up predominately of CIO's but with a few non-IT leaders sprinkled in.  The goal of the group was to determine how the work of the HEUG can be leveraged to better position higher ed for the future, in other words, wrestling with the age old problem that exists in higher ed IT of translating the benefits of information technology and data into business value and real information (to aid in decision making).  This is a terrific ambition but will definitely be difficult to accomplish.  I'm delighted to be a part of the process and hope that we can foster real change in the attitudes and understanding of non-IT senior leadership at some of our colleges and universities.Jerry Waldron, intrepid sole that he is, was drafted to lead this effort (Jerry is the CIO at the College of New Jersey). As part of the prep work (and follow-up) to the EAG meeting on the Sunday of Alliance, one article that he suggested as post-reading was a piece written by former Princeton president William Bowen.  Entitled Walk Deliberately, Don't Run, Toward Online Education, Dr. Bowen makes a number of interesting points regarding the lack of hard data proving (or disproving) the efficacy of MOOC's and other forms of online learning.  But it was some of his other points regarding cost containment that I found most interesting:Academic leaders must look explicitly for strategies to lower costs. I am not saying that educational leaders lack courage (though, sadly, some do). The reality is that controlling costs is a hard sell, in part because strong forces are pushing in the opposite direction.He's likely not talking about my next point, but it ties back very directly to some of the discussions during the Sunday EAG session at Alliance in March.  And let me make this caveat before proceeding: Oracle doesn't exactly have the best reputation across higher ed for being a part of the cost containment movement (most would argue that we're part of the problem), but this is where I think Oracle is most misunderstood.  We've been all too willing to sell higher ed a lot of software, hardware and services - in other words where there has been lack of discipline and governance we've been complicit in indulging our customers (big generalization here) in the creation of custom jalopies (IT systems made up of lots of parts integrated and maintained by the customer)  vs. selling complete automobiles.Further, there is additional "gold" in striving for more streamlined, integrated systems from fewer suppliers: the information available in the data.  With so much emphasis on improving student outcomes (student success) and personalized learning (student experience), one of the keys to really enabling these strategic imperatives through better data quality.  Investing in a myriad of point solutions from different vendors, especially if that data is now in the cloud, is a nightmare that some in higher ed are already experiencing.  Even if I didn't work for Oracle, I'm certain I would argue for the same things that Nicole Englebert  of Ovum in her comments to the aforementioned EAG made during her opening remarks.  In a presentation she made to the group entitled "Tectonic chanve in higher education," she references as a major strategic goal the reduction in the number of information technology vendors with which institutions partner, with expectations for a different type of relationship.  She also talks about more standard approaches to enterprise applications, requiring fewer resources (i.e. lower cost) for maintenance and improved agility.So I think in summary it's going to take some very very courageous CIO's (with willing co-conspirators in COO and CFO positions) to move the needle when it comes to transforming IT in higher from tactical to strategic.  And that's why I applaud what the EAG through the HEUG is trying to do.

During this year's Alliance conference in Indianapolis (the North America conference of the HEUG - Higher Ed Users Group) the HEUG board decided to experiment with a new concept to enable...

Crossing the Chasm

For those that know me well, it's no great secret that despite having now held my current position at Oracle for roughly 20 months, I still talk about how much I have to learn about not only the ways in which education institutions use technology to impact their various missions, but also the endless list of possibilities for how it might be leveraged for real and permanent improvement in the industry.For the better part of 20 years during my time at Apple and Sun, I had a very hardware-focused view of the world.  And while I had occasion to interact with "line of business" leadership within various education concerns, I was mainly traveling in CIO and IT leadership circles.  But during my last three years at Oracle, I've been exposed to the real possibilities that technology holds for educations, especially now in a time of deep introspection in the industry given the multitude of pressures (political, social, and financial) being applied at present.What strikes me as one of the great "misses" (and at the same time opportunities) is the chasm that exists between IT leadership and functional leadership within most of education, especially in the developed economies around the world.  With a few rare exceptions (see the article from former Cal State Northridge President Jolene Koester Information Technology and Tomorrow’s University: A President’s Confessions and Advice) IT is still viewed with the same skepticism and "necessary evil" attitude as 10+ years ago.  This is no where more evident than in the position of the IT leadership role at most education institutions, usually reporting into a business and finance leader or, worst, into an academic officer.  While exceptions exist, the organizations that treat IT as integral to the institution's future success are those where it reports directly to the president or a chief operation officer (or equivalent).But even in the absence of wholesale change in this regard, a lot could be done to cross the chasm between IT and functional leadership in education, with the goal being an evolution in the use of IT from the transactional to the strategic.  I'll be the first to admit that my profession hasn't exactly contributed to this evolution in all cases, but there are a number of efforts underway to advance this cause.  Over the past 20 months I've attempted to redirect the advisory council that we host and are fortunate enough to have some leading education institutions from around the world participate) to focus more around transformation in education through technology vs. input and strategy around specific products.  I intent to make Affordability, Accountability, Transparency (and how technology has the power to enable all of these "virtues") the primary themes of the upcoming meeting in June, and to continue to entice CFO's and other line of business leadership within the member institutions to participate along side their IT leaders.Additionally, our largest user group, the HEUG, is founding an executive advisory group (EAG) made up of both IT and functional leadership, to attempt to address exactly the same issue - how do we begin to think about technology in the context of where education needs to be in the next 10 years to meet not only address the pressure and issues that are present-day problems, but more importantly to address what we see as the needs and demands of society in the next decade.There's no question we could be a lot more, and this is an area that I'll be talking about in future blog entries throughout this calendar year-Cole

For those that know me well, it's no great secret that despite having now held my current position at Oracle for roughly 20 months, I still talk about how much I have to learn about not only the ways...

Will Online Learning Save Higher Education (and does it need saving)?

A lot (an awful lot) of education industry rag real estatehas been devoted to the topics of online learning, MOOC’s, Udacity, edX, etc.,etc. and to the uninitiated you’d think that the education equivalent of thecure for cancer had been discovered. There are certainly skeptics (whose voice is usually swiftly trampledupon by the masses) who feel we could over steer and damage or destroysomething vital to teaching and learning (i.e. the classroom experience anddirect interaction with human beings known as instructors), but for the mostpart prevailing opinion seems to be that online learning will take over theworld and that higher education will never be the same.Now I’m sure that since you all know I work for a technologycompany you think I’m going to come down hard on the side of online learningproselytizers. Yes, I do believe thatthis revolution can and will provide access to massive numbers of individualsthat either couldn’t afford (from a fiscal or time perspective) a traditionaleducation, and that in some cases the online modality will actually be animprovement over certain traditional forms (such as courses taught by anadjunct or teaching assistant that has no business being a teacher). But I think several things need immediate attention or we’relikely to get so caught up in the delivery that we miss some of the real issues(and opportunities) around online learning. First and foremost, we’ve got to give some thought to how traditionalinformation systems are going to accommodate thousands (possibly hundreds ofthousands) of individual students each taking courses from many, many different“deliverers” with an expectation that successful completion of these courseswill result in credit at many or most institutions. There’s also a huge opportunity to refine thedelivery platform (no, LMS is not a commodity when you are talking about onlinedelivery being your sole mode of operation) as well as the course itself bymining all kinds of data from the interactions that the students have with the materialeach time they take it. Social dataanalytics tools will be key in achieving this goal. What about accreditation (badging orcompetencies vs. traditional degrees)? And again, will the information systems in place today adapt to changesin this area fast enough? The type of scale that this shift in learning could drivehas the potential to abruptly overwhelm just about every system in place todayin higher education. I would like to(with a not so gentle reminder) refer you back to a blogentry I wrote when I first stepped into my current role at Oracle in whichI talked about how higher ed needs an “Oracle” more than at any other time init’s evolution (despite the somewhat mercantilist reputation it has in somecircles). There just aren’t that manyorganizations that can deliver the kinds of solutions “at scale” that thisbrave new world of online education will demand. The future may be closer than we think.Cole

A lot (an awful lot) of education industry rag real estate has been devoted to the topics of online learning, MOOC’s, Udacity, edX, etc.,etc. and to the uninitiated you’d think that the...

Happy Birthday WGU!

I was recently granted a seat on Western GovernorsUniversity national advisory board, and just returned from their semi-annualboard meeting and 15-year anniversary commemoration. For those of you that are not familiar withWGU, it's the first of it's kind competency-based, non-profit, on-lineuniversity that was originally established in Utah and now has officialstate-branded institutions in Washington, Indiana, and Texas. WGU is very focused with programs in Nursing,IT, Business, and a teachers college. Their primary audience is adult learners that require non-standard hoursand delivery models for education. It's withstood some withering criticism from traditionalhigher ed, and has also been the unfortunate victim of collateral damage fromthe oft-times-justified scrutiny of for-profit higher ed. But despite huge obstacles and odds, WGU hasquietly demonstrated huge growth both in students, graduates, and financialfooting. And at the core of WGU's modelis leveraging technology as a strategic weapon in the battle to provide qualityeducation at extremely reasonable costs. Their core IT philosophy espoused by their CIO Niel Nickolaisen andPresident Bob Mendenhall is a "buy vs. build" and"cloud-first" approach. He andthe WGU senior leadership team also understand the value of data and leveraginganalytics to drive up student success, and their SAP (Satisfactory AcademicProgress) figures are already bearing this out. In this age of near-vilification of higher ed in some circles, it'srefreshing to see a model that's working, financially stable, growing, andproducing graduates with a high level of satisfaction. WGU has over 33,000 students today and graduates morescience and math teachers than any other institution in the US (yes you readthat right). All because severalgovernors, the then-head of the DoE, andsome early private sponsors (including Scott McNealy from Sun and ThompsonLearning, now Cengage) believed in this competency-based, on-line model ofhigher education. So congratulations WGU on 15 years. I have a feeling that the next 15 will beeven more spectacular. Cole Clark, Global Vice President, Oracle Education andResearch Industries

I was recently granted a seat on Western Governors University national advisory board, and just returned from their semi-annualboard meeting and 15-year anniversary commemoration. For those of you...

Educause Top-Ten IT Issues - the most change in a decade or more

TheEducation IT Issue Panel has released the 2012top-ten issues facing higher education IT leadership, and instead of thecustomary reshuffling of the same deck, the issues reflect much of the tumultand dynamism facing higher education generally.  I find it interesting(and encouraging) that at the top of this year's list is "Updating IT Professionals'Skills and Roles to Accommodate Emerging Technologies and Changing ITManagement and Service Delivery Models."  This reflects, in my view,the realization that higher education IT must change in order to fully realizethe potential for transforming the institution, and therefore it's people mustlearn new skills, understand and accept new ways of solving problems, and notbe tied down by past practices or institutional inertia. Whatfollows in the remaining 9 top issues all speak, in some form or fashion, tothe need for dramatic change, but not just in the areas of "fundingIT" (code for cost containment or reduction), but rather the need toincrease effectiveness and efficiency of the institution through the use oftechnology—leveraging the wave of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) to theinstitution's advantage, rather than viewing it as a threat and a problem to becontained. Althoughit's #10 of 10, IT Governance (and establishment and implementation of thegovernance model throughout the institution) is key to effectively acting uponmany of the preceding issues in this year's list.  In the majority ofcases, technology exists to meet the needs and requirements to effectivelyaddress many of the challenges outlined in top-ten issues list. Whichbrings me to my next point. Although I try not to sound too much like an Oraclecommercial in these (all too infrequent) blog posts, I can't help but point outhow much confluence there is between several of the top issues this year andwhat my colleagues and I have been evangelizing for some time. Starting fromthe bottom of the list up: 1)I'm gratified that research and the IT challenges it presents has made the cut. Big Data (or Large Data as it's phased in the report) is rapidly going tooverwhelm much of what exists today even at our most prepared and well-equippedresearch universities.  Combine large data with the significantly morestringent requirements around data preservation, archiving, sharing, curation,etc. coming from granting agencies like NSF, and you have the brewing stormthat could result in a lot of "one-off" solutions to a problem thatcould very well be addressed collectively and "at scale."   2)Transformative effects of IT – while I see more and more examples of this, thereis still much more that can be achieved. My experience tells me that culture(as the report indicates or at least poses the question) gets in the way morethan technology not being up to task.  We spend too much time on"context" and not "core," and get lost in the weeds on thejourney to truly transforming the institution with technology. 3)Analytics as a key element in improving various institutional outcomes. In our work around Student Success, we see predictive"academic" analytics as essential to getting in front of the StudentSuccess issue, regardless of how an institution or collections of institutionsdefines success.  Analytics must be part of the fabric of the key academicenterprise applications, not a bolt-on.  We will spend a significantamount of time on this topic during our semi-annual Education Industry StrategyCouncil meeting in Washington, D.C. later this month. 4)Cloud strategy for the broad range of applications in the academic enterprise. Some of the recent work by Casey Green at the Campus Computing Surveywould seem to indicate that there is movement in this area but mostly in whathas been termed "below the campus" application areas such ascollaboration tools, recruiting, and alumni relations.  It's time to getserious about sourcing elements of mature applications like student informationsystems, HR, Finance, etc. leveraging a model other than traditional on-campuscustom. I'veonly selected a few areas of the list to highlight, but the unifying theme here(and this is where I run the risk of sounding like an Oracle commercial) isthat these lofty goals cry out for partners that can bring economies of scaleto bear on the problems married with a deep understanding of the nuances uniqueto higher education.  In a recent piece in EducauseReview on Student Information Systems, the author points out that"best of breed is back". Unfortunately I am compelled to point outthat best of breed is a large part of the reason we have made as littleprogress as we have as an industry in advancing some of the causes outlinedabove.  Don't confuse "integrated" and "full stack"for vendor lock-in.  The best-of-breed market forces that Ron points toensure that solutions have to be "integratable" or they don't survivein the marketplace. However, by leveraging the efficiencies afforded byadopting solutions that are pre-integrated (and possibly metered out as a service)allows us to shed unnecessary costs – as difficult as these decisions are tomake and to drive throughout the organization. Cole

The Education IT Issue Panel has released the 2012 top-ten issues facing higher education IT leadership, and instead of thecustomary reshuffling of the same deck, the issues reflect much of the...

Impressions and Reactions from Alliance 2012

Alliance2012 has come to a conclusion.  What strikes me about every Allianceconference is the amazing amount of collaboration and cooperation I see acrosshigher education in the sharing of best practices around the entire OraclePeopleSoft software suite, not just the student information system (Oracle’sPeopleSoft Campus Solutions).  In addition to the vibrant U.S.organization, it's gratifying to see the growth in the international attendanceagain this year, with an EMEA HEUG organizing to complement the existing groupsin the Netherlands, South Africa, and the U.K.  Their first meeting isplanned for London in October, and I suspect they'll be surprised at the amountof interest and attendance. Inmy discussions with higher education IT and functional leadership at Alliancethere were a number of instances where concern was expressed about Oracle'scommitment to higher education as an industry, primarily because of a lack ofperceived innovation in the applications that Oracle develops for this market. Here I think perception and reality are far apart, and I'd like toexplain why I believe this to be true. Firstlet me start with what I think drives this perception. Predominately it's intwo areas. The first area is the user interface, both for students and facultythat interact with the system as "customers", and for those employeesof the institution (faculty, staff, and sometimes students as well) that usethe system in some kind of administrative role. Because the UI hasn't changedall that much from the PeopleSoft days, individuals perceive this as a deadproduct with little innovation and therefore Oracle isn't investing. Thesecond area is around the integration of the higher education suite ofapplications (PeopleSoft Campus Solutions) and the rest of the Oracle softwareassets. Whether grown organically or acquired, there is an impressive array ofmiddleware and other software products that could be leveraged much moresignificantly by the higher education applications than is currently the casetoday. This is also perceived as lack of investment. Letme address these two points.  First the UI.  More is being done herethan ever before, and the PAG and other groups where this was discussed atAlliance 2012 were more numerous than I've seen in any past meeting. Whetherit's Oracle development leveraging web services or some extremely early butvery promising work leveraging the recent Endecaacquisition (see some coolexamples here)there are a lot of resources aimed at this issue.  There are also someamazing prototypes being developed by our UX (user experience team) that willeventually make their way into the higher education applications realm - theyhad an impressive setup at Alliance.  Hopefully many of you that attendedfound this group. If not, the senior leader for that team Jeremy Ashley will bea significant contributor of content to our summer Industry Strategy Councilmeeting in Washington in June. Inthe area of integration with other elements of the Oracle stack, this is alsoan area of focus for the company and my team.  We're making this apriority especially in the areas of identity management and security,leveraging WebCenter more effectively for content, imaging,and mobility, and driving towards the ultimate objective of WebLogicSuite as our platform forSOA, links to learning management systems (SAIP),and content. There is also much work around business intelligence centering onOBI applications. Butat the end of the day we get enormous value from the HEUG (higher educationuser group) and the various subgroups formed as a part of this community thathelp us align and prioritize our investments, whether it's around betterintegration with other Oracle products or integration with partner offerings. It's one of the healthiest, mutually beneficial relationships betweencustomers and an Education IT concern that exists on the globe. AndI can't avoid mentioning that this kindof relationship between higher education and the corporate IT community thatcan truly address the problems of efficiency and effectiveness, institutionalexcellence (which starts with IT) and student success.  It's not (in myopinion) going to be solved through community source - cost and complexity onlyincrease in that model and in the end higher education doesn't ultimately focuson core competencies: educating, developing, and researching.  WhileI agree with some of what Michael A. McRobbie wrote in his EDUCAUSE Reviewarticle (InformationTechnology: A View from Both Sides of the President’s Desk), I takestrong issue with his assertion that the "the IT marketplace is just theopposite of long-term stability...."  Sure there has been healthy,creative destruction in the past 2-3 decades, but this has had the effect of,in the aggregate, benefiting education with greater efficiency, more innovationand increased stability as larger, more financially secure firms acquire anddevelop integrated solutions.Cole

Alliance 2012 has come to a conclusion.  What strikes me about every Alliance conference is the amazing amount of collaboration and cooperation I see acrosshigher education in the sharing of best...

Why Higher Education Needs Oracle More Than Ever

For those of you that I haven't met, I'm Cole Clark. I lead the education and research industryteam for Oracle globally. I started mycareer after graduating from Rhodes College in 1988, working in the nascent ITorganization at another university (the University of Tennessee, Memphis) tohelp put myself through school. I"grew up" in computing during the advent of the Macintosh, clientserver, the slow demise of the mainframe and the move away from centralizedcomputing with more and more power and capability (and operating systemempowerment of users) at the desk, and eventually, lap. I eventually joined the company whose products I admired somuch (Apple), then moved to Sun when in 1997 it appeared Apple would not makeit (clearly got that one wrong), then to Oracle by way of its acquisition ofSun in 2010. During those almost 23years I've watched the almost full-circle from centralized to decentralizedback to centralized and now to even more centralization (shared services andcloud) in computing in higher education. But with this movement back to centrally managed serviceshas come an enormous cost, both in real dollars (or name your currency ofchoice) and in what we deliver to constituents. Sure, there's the promise of greaterefficiency and data security, but with so many more players in the traditional"stack" of enterprise computing, each focusing on a specific layer(or two or three), higher education has generally amassed a collection oftechnologies that merely move the spaghetti that existed before in theclient-server environment to the data center. Think about it - in many cases there are different (sometimes multiple!)suppliers at each layer - storage, storage management, operating system(s),virtualization system, server(s) interconnects, network, database, security andidentity management, content management, portal, and various applications. And at each layer, a management interfacethat rarely integrates (seamlessly and elegantly) with the other layers. So we add people and process. Virtualization has brought with it greater serverutilization and efficiency, but in the place of a handful of, at times,under-utilized servers, we now have massive VM sprawl that brings with it itsown set of management costs. All of the above runs head-long into the economic crisis ineducation that hit in 2008 and persists today. Cloud computing and community source hold the allure of even greaterefficiency and cost savings. But is thisreally the holy grail? As (outgoing) CSUNorthridge president Jolene Koester says in her outstandingpiece on university IT when confronted with the comparison of technology toa utility, "...the role of information technology in my university is farmore strategic, far more ubiquitous, far more integrated into multiple businesspractices, and far more integral to the core university functions of teachingand learning. I no longer regard asvalid the comparison of information technology to a utility." No, the answer is in my view to leavecomputing to organizations that are highly skilled, have thousands of use casesupon which to solve problems, and have the intellectual property under theroof to engineer these highly complex systemsto work together, with a common management interface. I recently convened the first meeting of an expandedindustry strategy council for education and research at Oracle headquarters inCalifornia. I invited many institutionsthat were outside of our typical participants in the past: some that owned noOracle applications and utilized solutions from competitors, some that ownedlittle Oracle at all, some that were former Sun customers, some that are stilldevoted Sun customers today. Whatresonated with me after a day and a half of interaction and dialog was thatthere is a lot going on at Oracle unbeknownst to higher ed - investments inrelationships and technology, but foremost, moving IT away from integrated solutionsto engineered and optimized. That's our mission in higher ed - to build highly optimizedand engineered systems with less complexity and cost, leveraging thoseengineering assets to bleed out implementation and maintenance costs beforethey arrive at a college or university data center, or in the data center ofsome shared services hosting center. Oracle's biggest obstacle in this quest in higher ed is,from my somewhat naive view of the world, it’s perception by some in theeducation community as a ‘big bad vendor’. Candidly, it's Oracle’s own fault (again from my personal perspective)that Oracle has created this persona which has contributed to the rise of communitysource endeavors like Kuali and Sakai. With all due respect to these groups and their cheerleaders, I don'tbelieve they will get higher education where it needs to go. Again, community source solutions have comeabout partially because vendors are not satisfying the market with the correctproducts and partially (maybe more than partially) because Oracle is sometimes viewedas Machiavellian. Point taken. But I would encourage any of you taking thetime to read this to get to know this new systems company called Oracle. No, all answers to all education computingproblems are not yet in, but the key to running efficient and effectivecomputing that provides competitive advantage and allows for keen insight frommasses of data into the trends and potentially catastrophes (before theyoccur), lie in working with us to deploy engineered and optimized systems fromus and from our partners. Oracle has acquired Sun, and PeopleSoft, Hyperion, Siebel, RightNow and.... (the list is more than 75 companies long). We're all about the "systems-ness"of computing now. Yes, Oracle and othervendors have our faults - we're working on those and want to talk more abouthow we dramatically improve our relationships (hence my desire to furtherexpand the strategy council to even more members, globally). Give us a call. In the words of one of my favorite architectson my global team, "I am listening." Cole Clark

For those of you that I haven't met, I'm Cole Clark. I lead the education and research industry team for Oracle globally. I started mycareer after graduating from Rhodes College in 1988, working in...

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