August 26, 2013

The Top Ten K-12 CIO Strategic Priorities

Trade shows and conferences always provoke energetic discussions of the latest breaking industry trends and priorities. Technology in education took its turn in the spotlight at ISTE 2013 (International Society for Technology in Education).  The megatrends of mobile, social, apps, and cloud were front and center both in the sessions and on the demo floor, just as they were at Interop earlier this year.

To dig deeper and see how these megatrends are actually effecting strategic priorities for K-12, we checked in with industry-leading K-12 CIOs in the US and Europe. We asked the CIOs to rank their strategic priorities and give us a quick synopsis of their reasoning.  Since we had conducted a similar poll of leading Higher Education CIOs earlier this year, we decided to compare the K-12 CIO priorities with those in Higher Education.

The results show quite a bit of similarity in strategic priorities. The K-12 and Higher Education CIOs are both putting the bulk of their focus on improving their infrastructure. Investment in infrastructure ranks almost identically high for both groups. The second priority for K-12 is mobile, while Higher Education ranks security as the next priority. All three of these investment areas indicate the strategic importance of mobile: upgrading the wireless infrastructure is necessary to securely accommodate ever-more mobile devices on campus.

Relative Ranking of K-12 and Higher Education CIO Strategic Priorities

Relative Ranking of K-12 and Higher Education CIO Strategic Priorities

Both K12 and Higher Education are planning more outsourcing of apps and servers as evidenced by their medium priorities of cloud and SaaS. On the other hand, outsourced services is a lower priority for both groups and is dead last for Higher Ed.

Where the two groups differ most is in new application development, virtualization, and business transformation. New application development is the lowest priority for K-12, but a middle priority for Higher Education, indicating that K-12 can address their application needs with off-the-shelf software, while Higher Education requires a level of custom-developed software. Given the relevancy issues facing Higher Education, it is not surprising that they prioritize business transformation higher than do K-12 CIOs.

Here is what the K-12 CIOs have to say about their strategic priorities.

Justin Michaud     Mat-Su Borough School District
Having the correct infrastructure in place is a key component to ensuring the success for devices, hardwired or wireless.  This includes ensuring bandwidth speeds are appropriate to meet the needs for student learning.

Tom Murray (@thomascmurray)     Quakertown Community School District
Infrastructure is at the core of our 1:1 initiative, BYOD, and blended learning program.  A properly designed and implemented infrastructure creates a dynamic learning environment for students and for the ability for staff to unleash the power of digital learning in their classrooms, where 21st century learning skills and resources are at everyone’s fingertips.

Steven Tallant    Merseyside, UK
Infrastructure is our number one priority. As a school we are looking to benefit from a portable IT suite utilising iPads and laptops. In order for this to be a possibility we must have a capable infrastructure to deal accordingly with a large number of devices at any one time. We will also be implementing cloud based application suites and embarking on a skills development program with our staff, but having a sound infrastructure already in place is paramount.

Keith Hallam (@IT_KEITH)    Wirral (Merseyside, UK)
With the increasing number of devices per user, and with policies such as BYOD our 8 year old infrastructure is struggling, We are investing in a 21st century solution to carry us through the next 10 years.

John McMillen (@ujdmc)    Graves County Schools
We currently have wireless access implemented in all 17 locations in our district, but we are looking to improve the density of the system. We are always looking to improve the user experience by reducing the time needed to accomplish tasks.

Miguel Guhlin  (@mguhlin)   East Central ISD
In-house infrastructure has been poor and building it up has been our priority.

Felix Jacomino (@felixjacomino)    St. Stephen’s Episcopal Day School
Without proper skills and training, everything else doesn’t matter. Knowledge is power.

Sharon Plante (@iplante)     Eagle Hill Southport
In this day and age there are many concerns over data security in all businesses.  With the additional concern over school security, safety of data for staff and student privacy is imperative.

Paul Russell     Enfield CT
BYOD – device comfort of workforce. We must be ready to transform our business model to allow for anytime, anywhere on anything access to information.

Alex Podchaski  (@ajpodchaski)    Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child
We are prioritizing cloud-based services to respond to business continuity issues we have faced over the last year, and to provide improved services to our school community.

Steve Langford  (@sdlangford)   Beaverton School District
All are important priorities.  A large-scale future device deployment connected to electronic consumption of curriculum, BYOD, and an upcoming telecommunications system replacement are driving a focus on building out the appropriate technology infrastructure.

Susan M. Bearden (@s_bearden)   Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy
Upgrading our infrastructure to stay ahead of increasing user demand is an ongoing process.  Bandwidth and wireless density are two focus areas for 2013. Outsourcing some IT staffing and services continues to be a very successful strategy for us, and we will be investigating Cloud and SAAS options as our virtualized server infrastructure approaches end-of-life.

Matt Eggert (@Eggsabyte)    The First Academy
Today, independent schools cannot skimp on quality products to provide core functionality and infrastructure needs. There are many other new technologies that provide automations and efficiency improvements. Our expectation and risk has changed 10-fold from simply providing basic services as cheaply as possible to ‘it has to be as fast as humanly possible and service can never go down’. When you have that paradigm change in leadership and expectations you have to purchase quality products that allow to you push those limits so you can sleep at night and know you’ll have a job in the morning.

Ben Grey (@bengrey)    Oak Lawn-Hometown District 123
Providing students and staff with reliable, effective access is imperative for our efforts to move forward with the transformative nature of the affordances of technology in learning. That is followed very closely with the cultural transformation we are working to shift our model of education to capitalize on those affordances.

Charles Poovakan     Burbank Unified School District
Burbank Unified School District has an aging infrastructure that needs to be upgraded in order to be able to support mobile devices and increased learning opportunities.

About The Contributor:
Bob NilssonDirector of Vertical Solutions Marketing

Bob Nilsson is the director of vertical solutions marketing at Extreme Networks. In this role, Mr. Nilsson leads the Extreme Networks strategy and programs for vertical markets including Healthcare, Higher Education, K-12 Education, Federal Government, and Hospitality. He has over 30 years of experience in marketing IT systems to Global 1000 companies worldwide. Before joining Extreme Networks Bob was VP Marketing at Clear Methods. Prior to that Bob held senior marketing positions at Digital Equipment and HP. Bob holds an SB degree in EE from MIT and MBA from Columbia Business School.

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