School year just started and I am excited, really excited and optimistic about the prospect of what my team and my organization can accomplish this year. We’re going through perhaps the biggest project our department has ever undertaken, the conversion of our mainframe-based student information system to .net environment. This project is in addition to multiple enterprise projects throughout the entire Student Affairs division. With the decreasing budget and changing demands and expectations of our customers, technology have become more central to the operations of the departments. Personally for me, I am excited with the challenge and opportunities of merging consumer technologies (social media, cloud computing, mobile) with enterprise IT. I think the last time I saw this much shift at work is back in the mid-1990’s with the advent of the web. There were paranoia about security, employees wasting time on the web, or if web was of even any value to our organization. But just as I am seeing the same fears and concerns, I also see the same curiosity, grassroots adoptions and even some level of formal institutional adoptions of these consumer technologies. The reality is that the demographics of those we serve in student affairs have changed and along with these changes are the expectations of more agile, more open systems.The students we serve are far different from those in the 1990’s. Our students grew up with technologies that we did not even envision back then. The rise of social media as we know it now, arguably, could be traced back to when friendster came to existence in 2002. The creation of facebook in 2004 and twitter in 2006 further changed the social media landscape. With the increased and more robust wireless infrastructure and cheaper mobile devices, the way our society communicate is far different.
I wrote a blog post a few months ago that for social media to thrive in our institution, it has to be formally adopted. Since then, our organization has created a formal position to coordinate divisional efforts to advance the adoption of consumer technologies. Just as I had suggested in the same blog post, our organization has created a productivity/security group composed of individuals representing different perspectives to properly assess the integration of these technologies for business use and to address the challenges of accommodating the needs of individual users for flexibility with the needs of the enterprise.
In addition to social media, my team has begun to explore and develop mobile web sites. Using the UCLA Mobile Framework, we are exploring how we can use it within our existing content management system. Personally, I have learned a lot the last few months on the principles of mobile web development. I truly believe mobile devices has begun and will continue to significantly alter how universities do business. By taking advantage of the features of mobile devices such as geolocation, multiple inputs (QR Codes, NFR, location, gestures) and the fact that they are widely available even in the poorest sections of the world, in my opinion, more and more business transactions will be conducted via mobile devices.
Just as it was in the mid 1990’s for me when I woke up with a book about web development in my hand and go to sleep with it, going to sleep at 4 am, spending every night learning about how to develop web applications, I find myself in the same situation now. I wake up every morning to find some new knowledge via social media, new ideas I want to research, new applications I want to build. I go to sleep with ideas in my mind on what technologies mean to me, to my work. It truly is an exciting time and I’m just enjoying the ride!