Each of our takeaways has the associated issue number from the EDUCAUSE Top 10 list. 

1. Cybersecurity (Issue #1)
With a mix of quickly evolving technology and important compliance rules and regulations from HIPAA, FERPA, CMMC, NIST 800-171 and more, we know that colleges and universities are challenged with securing a complex, rapidly increasing tech stack and ecosystem of endpoint devices. Knowing that each institution has compliance requirements as well as its own appetite and tolerance for risk, our experts start with an intense focus on your security and institutional leaders' goals and outcomes and align our delivery accordingly. Our approach typically includes

  • Analyzing risks to determine their likelihood
  • Rationalizing and de-risk technology investments
  • Accelerating implementation with skilled experts
  • Integrating multi-vendor architectures from a broad partner ecosystem of leading and emerging vendors

Device controls offer the ability to know what devices – end-user workstations and devices, IoT equipment and sensors, and scientific equipment - are connected to the institution's network and have visibility to their behaviors and activities. Transport controls provide security for the transport and exchange of critical data across the institution's network.

Implementing a zero trust security environment ensures that institutional information is protected from unexpected threats and exposure. Zero trust approaches are designed to limit access to sensitive information, leverage network micro-segmentation to limit the 'attack surface' that can be accessed, and dynamically assess the security risk of users, devices, and services to mitigate risks that may occur post-authentication.

We can help your institution with everything from individual point solutions to establishing or refreshing enterprise strategies, planning, and implementation.


2. Lifecycle management of the modern infrastructure portfolio to balance budgets and cost (Issue #9)

To support the breadth and sophistication of technology needs and expectations, university IT leaders are considering sustainable operating models that consider the talent requirements and the lifecycle funding for maintenance and upgrades, and replacements down the road.

Higher Ed IT organizations are provisioning and maintaining robust and ubiquitous campus connectivity solutions that students, faculty, and staff need in order to learn and work. For those solutions that have ties to physical location and operations, comprehensive approaches to infrastructure modernization areas of focus include

  • Endpoint management
  • Secure access service edge (SASE/SSE)
  • Multicloud connectivity and provisioning
  • Upgrades and enhancements to WIFI including WIFI 7
  • Software-defined networking (SDN)
  • Infrastructure automation and infrastructure-as-a-service
  • Classroom technologies
  • IT service management (ITSM)


3. Administrative cost reduction (Issue #5) through automation and AI
Cost reduction happens in the forms of:

  • Scaling operations (completing a higher volume of work in the same or less time with available resources)
  • Improving the quality of data in order to reduce necessary rework from errors that occur in paperwork and information processing
  • Applying technology in ways that reduce the amount of time and effort that is required to complete operational tasks. Various technologies can automate and orchestrate the work that systems do such that they are much more efficient, coordinated, and streamlined. This comes in the form of network automation (e.g., software-defined networking).
  • Reducing the time used to complete a set of given tasks - process automation (e.g., workflow and ticketing management, DevOps).


4. IT Talent (Issue #7)

Strategic Sourcing
Provisioning and maintaining technology services on campuses require skilled teams of IT professionals.  Recruiting and retaining the right professionals to provide services has been especially challenging in Higher Ed given the draw of the private sector to talented individuals.  A strategic approach is needed to meet institutional demand with the appropriate level and quantity of skills.  Obtaining staffing and skills through valued industry partners can provide faster and broader access to fill talent gaps and accelerate the momentum of delivering high-value projects and initiatives. Strategic outsourcing also avoids a longer-term commitment to coveted recurring funds.  Skill needs such as solution architecture and design, project implementation, hard-to-fill positions, and staff backfill are prime areas for strategic outsourcing.

Managed Services
Building and supporting technology infrastructure and keeping current with lifecycle upgrades and replacements are prime areas for institutions to leverage industry partners who can provide more end-to-end managed solutions with a predictable budget model.  Managed services, including managing all or part of a network, help IT organizations address the technology and talent challenges and provide a financial model that "bakes in" the lifecycle replacement of technology components.  A managed service approach provides a more proactive approach to infrastructure services with clear criteria for performance, capabilities, and support while allowing IT leaders to focus their attention on recruiting and retaining talent for higher-value services.


5. Artificial Intelligence and Data (Issues #2, 3, 4, 8 and honorable mention) governance, strategy, and intelligence

The availability of high-quality data and intelligence is central to the institutional ability to make important decisions regarding finances, operations, academic and research success. WWT has specialized analytics expertise to support work anywhere within the lifecycle of an institution's work.

Foundational data planning and development is critical to ensuring that management, protection, and use of data meet institutional needs and standards. WWT's experts are skilled in collaborating with institutional experts to design, build, upgrade, and secure centralized cloud-based data lakes and warehouses that integrate with core enterprise systems (e.g., SIS, ERP, LMS) to support critical reporting and analytics. WWT can also help explore, integrate, and migrate the backend of existing analytics tools like PowerBI to new and existing data environments.

Although the topic of AI was an honorable mention in this year's Top 10, WWT recognizes from the interest and significant discussion during 2023 that institutions are wrestling with how best to grow their capabilities and evolve their operations in the most effective, forward-thinking, economical, and innovative ways using AI. WWT's investments in AI expertise and innovation lab for customers are designed to help our customers explore and make informed decisions about how best to incorporate AI, intelligent automation, and analytics work into their institutions.

Reference: https://www.educause.edu/research-and-publications/research/top-10-it-issues-technologies-and-trends/2024