Max’s Minute: Embrace the SMAC Stack (Part 5 of 5)

Max Davis-Johnson, CIO Boise State University, discusses the future of technology in higher education in the finale of this multipart video series.

In Part 5, Max focuses on the strategies we use at Boise State to prepare the University to take advantage of emergent technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud services, ubiquitous connectivity, and the possibilities of mobile.

Specifically, he describes the concepts of IT rationalization, IT simplification, the “Concept of One,” the “Concept of Zero,” and how Boise State embraces the SMAC stack (social, mobile, analytics, cloud) to prepare for the future of technology.

Also in this series:

Transcript: Max's Minute: Embrace the SMAC Stack

>> MAX: I’m going to talk about the future of technology in higher ed.

>> TITLE: Max’s Minute: The Future of Technology in Higher Ed: Part 5 Finale: Embrace the SMAC Stack

>> MAX: Hi, this is Max Davis-Johnson, Boise State University, Office of Information Technology.

Today I’m going to continue in the series that I’ve been talking about the future of technology in higher ed.

Today I’m going to focus more on the strategies that are going to allow us to use some of this future technology that I’ve talked about prior to that.

Thinking about the idea that technology is people, process, and technology, let’s focus a little bit here on the people.

And so, for us to move forward we need what I would call high-performance organization. High performance organization can mean many things.

To me it means that we know where our bus is going–we know what direction we’re going.

We know what the expectations are, and we have the right people on the bus to get us there.

Now, for us to determine where that bus goes, we need a number of things.

Governance in higher ed is very interesting because we are a consensus type environment.

It involves a lot of people, typically in our governance process, helping us prioritize, helping us determine which directions we should going on.

It’s also very important for us to have, as we move forward into the future, to have a budget and resources so we can do the things that governance wants us to do and to do the things we need to move forward with technology.

Some other core strategies we adopt as we move forward, is this concept of IT rationalization.

As we move to the future we don’t just say one day, “Hey, let’s go out and spend $1 million and we’ll invest in all this new technology.”

Typically, we look for opportunities. And those opportunities are when we need to replace a system, when we need to upgrade a system, maybe when we have a large capital equipment purchase, we need to do, we look for these opportunities where it makes sense that let’s, instead of doing our old technology, let’s look at the next iteration of technology and that’s part of how we move forward.

Another key concept that is critical to us as we move forward in the future of technology is the idea of IT simplification.

The idea of the “Concept of One.” There’s a lot of different technologies, there are a lot of different ways to do things, but let’s find one way and let’s focus on that.

There’s the “Concept of Zero,” the idea that let’s find somebody that does something really well, it’s part of their core business, it’s not part of our core business, and let them do it for us.

Other aspects of IT simplification are what I call keeping score.

We don’t necessarily know what to fix if we don’t know what’s broken. And to know what’s broken we have to keep score.

Another idea is this whole idea, I use the word “Amazonification.”

That has nothing to do with the Cloud or AWS, but it’s this idea of continuous improvement. The idea of let’s put out a minimum viable product. In other words, a product that is serving what it does, and then let’s continue to improve it, continue to make it better.

And then the other thing which I’ve talked a lot about as the technology that we’re going to be moving forward on, is this concept of the SMAC Stack.

And we want to embrace the SMAC Stack. SMAC stands for: social, mobile, analytics, and cloud.

And certainly as we move forward with software systems the idea there’s a social aspect, the ability to communicate with people within that framework of that system, that’s certainly important.

The idea that anything we do in the future is available through your mobile device.

The idea that data and analytics as we’ve talked about in prior Max’s Minutes, it’s going to be a big part of our future.

And then the idea of the Cloud. And certainly as we move forward here we will be doing more and more things in the Cloud.

And then the last concept of IT simplification is, but it’s a very critical one, is the idea we have to stop doing stuff. For us to do new things, to adopt new technology, we have to stop doing the old technology because we can’t do it all.

Being able to embrace these concepts within IT simplification are very important for us being able to move forward with technology in the future.

You know, I’ve talked about a lot of things. I’ve talked about exciting technology: AI, machine learning, the idea of cloud software as a service, infrastructure, connectivity, how that’s going to be ubiquitous, the computers getting smaller and smaller and more powerful.

I’ve talked about processes that we can put in place to help determine what directions we go, help us adopt this wonderful new technology that’s coming.

But I think the whole idea here, just as here at Boise State we prepare students for the future, we need to prepare technology for the future, prepare ourselves for the future of technology.

Our future’s so bright, that I’m going to have to wear shades.

Until next time, thank you.

>> TITLE: Max’s Minute is produced by the Office of Information Technology at Boise State Univeristy.

(208) 426-4357 (HELP) or helpdesk@boisestate.edu.