1.1 The importance of institutionally integrated and aligned ICT strategy and activities

The UK Higher Education (HE) sector is experiencing, and will continue to face major challenges as a result of political, socio-economic, demographic and technological pressures. The necessity for institutional leaders and senior management to deliver clear institutional vision and corporate strategy has never been greater. Information and Communications Technology (ICT) continues to be acknowledged as a major factor in organisations realising their aims and objectives and consequently, ICT has an important role in the mobilisation of an institution's strategy.

However, although highly deployed there is growing evidence that ICT does not always add sufficient 'value' to an institution either operationally, or strategically in providing the capacity to realise the changing needs of today's HE institutions (HEIs).

We define the maturity of strategic ICT as a measure of how well ICT is integrated and aligned with the enterprise wide institutional strategy and therefore able to deliver maximum value and agility. An institution's Strategic Plan may require ICT to support the delivery of operational, strategic or transformational objectives.

Key findings from our research have included:

  • organisations that deploy techniques to achieve stronger engagement with the strategic technology agenda are substantially more successful in delivering against their corporate goals2;
  • by improving the integration & alignment of strategic ICT to corporate strategy HE institutions will:
    • improve their ability to realise institutional vision & goals
    • provide more agility in response to institutional diversification, growth and development
    • improve student, staff and partner experiences with greater enterprise capability
    • enable greater sharing of knowledge and resources across the enterprise
    • improve communications
    • increase ICT value
    • improve ICT cost control

It is important to recognise that institutions attract a unique profile each having their own market position, strengths, issues and ambitions for the future. We found that there is no single approach to formulation and implementation of strategic ICT in the HE sector. However, there are elements and practices that we can learn from and use to develop a more mature and effective approach whilst maintaining an institution's unique profile, that will in turn deliver greater ICT value and business benefits.

2 IT Governance, How Top Performers Manage IT Decisions Rights for Superior Results, Ross & Weil