Today's business leaders are cognisant of the need to prepare the workplace for the next generation of staff who are adept at using collaborative and disruptive technologies. But ICT executives in the education and banking sector are already working with this group.
At a recent CIO roundtable, executives from these sectors talked about trends and practices they are facing while working with this group of 'millennials' and increasingly tech savvy users.
The discussion, held in conjunction with Samsung, provides insights on how this group is already transforming the education sector, and eventually, all industries as more and more of them enter the workforce.
Mobility transforms the sector
Tim Chaffe, University of Auckland: In education, mobile is hitting us hard. It's making our students immerse themselves in our environment and there's a ubiquity to IT -- and that comes with an expectation. In the past, people would have to stop and find the desktop computer, but now the mobile device can do what computers can do.
And that brings immense challenges to the infrastructure, to the way we deliver our applications, to our security and privacy, to our management, and almost the culture of the university, because there's an expectation that the digital environment is the same as the real environment. They're immersed in that environment.
Peter van Dyk, BEST Pacific Institute of Education: Mobility gives students the opportunity to access learning material in ways that they haven't been able to before, so a lot of the constraints on our students fall away as a result of mobility; and it means that they have better opportunities than they've ever had before to actually participate in the learning environment.
Mobility gives students the opportunity to access learning material in ways that they haven't been able to before, so a lot of the constraints on our students fall away as a result
Peter van Dyk, BEST Pacific Institute of Education
Aubrey Christmas, Elim (Churches) Colleges: Mobility to me means flexibility, innovation, and ease. The environment that the next generation after us are functioning in clearly brings that to the forefront of our mind. It is a paradigm shift of how we see and do things.
Roger Wanless, AUT: We need to be anticipating future trends and seeing where we need to be spending the money to deliver the services that our students are going to be wanting over the next few years.
The distance learning numbers are surpassing the traditional classroom.
Aubrey Christmas, Elim (Churches) Colleges
Owen Werner, Unitec: It's about working with our institution, as well in terms of our staff readiness to prepare for that new world. The students want to engage in a mobile space, so how are our people going to respond to that? Students are becoming much more capable, much more prepared than some of our staff in terms of engagement in those new channels, methods and ways of working.
Ampie Vos, University of Auckland: With mobile, two things spring to my mind: Rapid growth and meeting user expectations. Over the last four to five years, we've seen a doubling of number of mobile devices connecting to our wireless network each year. At the moment we're facilitating about 40,000 unique devices per day and it's still growing.
The second part is meeting the user expectations. Because people use their mobile devices while roaming the campus, they expect it to work with full network connectivity wherever they are. They expect to be able to access their lectures, sign on to the research material, and work as if they were sitting in the classroom. So meeting this expectation is a key focus for us and we are striving to be ahead of the wave.
Stefan Lecchi, Samsung: Everyone is talking about anytime, anywhere, anyplace when it comes to mobile. The other word now is 'any pace'. It's about catering for those students' pace and that pace might change depending where they are and what they're doing.
Diversity rules, for technology and users
Roy Cullum, AUT: We have three types of customers: Students, researchers, and staff. Our primary focus needs to be on our students as they are our paying customers. We've undertaken a number of pieces of research, particularly on what students want, and it's quite overwhelming that they are very cost conscious. They've just about all got mobile phones and that's their main device of choice. Students expect 24 by 7 services, and that they can use their mobile device to deliver and receive everything that they could get on a PC or tablet. So the challenge for us is enabling that, keeping it secure, keeping it reliable, and keeping it low cost.
Jason MacDonald, Kristin School: I look after our ICT team and our Library and Information Services team.
Mobile technologies have transformed what we do. However, the consumerisation of IT has really upped the game, with respect to where our expectations are for our parent community and our students. Our students start at kindergarten and go through Year 13 and there's a difference, of course, in how our students use technology across the grade levels.
However, mobile technology, in particular with the battery life and connectivity that it has, is adding multiple pieces of glass to our learning environment. Students don't just have a single device, they have multiple devices now and that is transforming how we practice teaching and learning in the classroom. Mobile technology does affect a lot of what we do in terms of our learning programmes. On the information services side, digital technology, particularly mobile, is also revolutionising how we deliver library services.
Our service metrics are changing. For example, you are now asking your team how many hours of content delivery have they provided users for self-help purposes?
Jason MacDonald, Kristin School
Wanted: New skill sets
Andy Parker, St Cuthbert's College: What's interesting is given all of our students are so connected to their mobile devices at all different times, the amount of data they access and the data they consume and the data they post -- how are they going to cope with managing all this data and then contextualising it. How do we help our students with the data they get and put it in a meaningful way?
Neil Gong, NZMA: We try to understand what it means to the learner from their perspective -- what the expectations are and what kind of experience we are going to provide them. And at the same time, to protect the organisation from any threats or anything where we explore the opportunity.
We also found that the students are leading the game at the moment, and it's our teaching staff who are holding some of our initiatives at the moment. If you have been teaching the same way for the last 10 years, why suddenly, you feel less comfortable in the classroom. The teacher used to be the centre in the classroom, but now are they just a facilitator? Are they still manning the room or the students are and are they leading the game?
The mobile with the cloud is creating a whole range of rich ecosystems, specifically consumer.
Tim Chaffe, University of Auckland
Andy Parker, St Cuthbert's College: Engaging teachers will always be successful, regardless of the delivery method. If they're standing in front talking for an hour, that will still work or they can be interactive and facilitate. It's engagement and I should say the challenge now is the students. There are so many more distractions to take away from engagement, because of the devices. So the teacher's job or the lecturer's job is just harder, because of what they're fighting against. And the students' access to alternative material that might contradict what's been delivered. So an English teacher can be saying a certain poet meant this when they wrote this, and the student's saying. 'Well hang on, I've read what he wrote and no, he didn't.' So it's the challenge to the authority of the teacher, because the student in class has access to an alternative view so much quicker. So the teachers have to be more adaptive around the discussion about it, rather than just delivering it. You can still be in the middle of the room, and in theory, they are the ones that know better, more than the students. And that's very true for the good teachers.
We need to be anticipating future trends and seeing where we need to be spending the money to deliver the services that our students are going to be wanting over the next few years.
Roger Wanless, AUT
Stefan Lecchi, Samsung: Where the teacher professional development has to move to is not around the technology, what it's going to do, how to use it or how to get the most out of it. Professional development is 'How does it fit into your curriculum delivery?' A teacher's main concern with any training or technology is 'What am I going to do with my students tomorrow? Does this fit into what I'm trying to deliver to my students?'
Students expect 24 by 7 services, and that they can use their mobile device to deliver and receive everything that they could get on a PC or tablet.
Roy Cullum, AUT University
Angsana Techatassanasoontorn, AUT: We are in a stage of experimentation. We have started giving staff iPads or devices to take home and use. It doesn't have to be related to university work.
But what happens is interesting. There is a 'silent coordination' going on, meaning I'm sending an email at 8pm and then somebody else responds to my email and then I'll reply again. So there is a silent coordination going on among employees. Even though they don't want to engage in email communication during their non-work hours, they see somebody else replying at slightly odd hours. So you get into this 'Everybody else is doing it, I'm doing it too'. My concern would be are we getting ourselves into an unsustainable work rhythm?
Peter van Dyk, BEST Pacific Institute of Education: Your personal life becomes blurred at work, as well, because you've got access to the same tools and you end up doing your banking just when you think of it and that might be at work, home, anywhere. I think mobility makes it worse, but I don't think it started with mobility, it started with email.
Jason MacDonald, Kristin School: There's no doubt that the new environment is more challenging, though it's a different sort of challenge. It's not the old managed IT environment that many of us perhaps grew up with or started with. And so you need to change tack with areas of focus.
For example, we now place a lot of investment into professional learning opportunities for our parents so they can come and see how technology's used, how to set up technology, and how to be safe using technology. Our focus is now more than just our staff and students that the traditional IT model had.
Walter Chieng, Saint Kentigern Trust: The other thing that we need to bear in mind is that ICT services have to transform. ICT services in yesteryears were quite structured, they are seen to be controlling even though they had the best of intentions.
Some flexibility has to come in and enable all this to happen, because if you provide a device to a person, what's the point of giving it to them if you don't expect them to grow with it?
Over the last four to five years, we've seen a doubling of number of mobile devices connecting to our wireless network each year. At the moment we're facilitating about 40,000 unique devices per day and it's still growing.
Ampie Vos, The University of Auckland
Jason MacDonald, Kristin School: Our service metrics are changing. For example, you are now asking your team how many hours of content delivery have they provided users for self-help purposes? How many online videos or other sorts of training have they provided to users to help them accomplish what they need to do? I find that very fascinating and it's all a paradigm shift and how we deliver our IT services in terms of quantity and connectivity.
Aubrey Christmas, Elim (Churches) Colleges: What I have seen, when we provide the users more flexibility and increased ownership [of the mobile tools], the infrastructure support completely drops!
This compared to the previous model where we had to basically man the 'command centre' and control the policies and what not. Fundamentally, it all really goes back to the education component of the users; providing them the needed information and empowering users to do the changes themselves. It's also to be responsible for their actions. If they cross the barrier, that is when we enforce the policy.
The students want to engage in a mobile space, so how are our people going to respond to that?
Owen Werner, Unitec
Read more:Doing business with Nick Hearn of LAB360
Requirements, as we discovered, are age-specific because people from different age range have different degrees of requirements.
The new information ecosystem
Tim Chaffe, University of Auckland: The mobile with the cloud is creating a whole range of rich ecosystems, specifically consumer. And the central IT or the organisational IT or even the vendor IT is being caught gasping, because of the rate of change that's happening.
One of the things that we did at the university about three or four years ago was introduce lecture theatre recording. The academics were very much against it, because they thought it was their property, there were copyright issues; they thought they were ceding control. The feedback we got from the students was overwhelming. They said "thank you so much for doing this, for giving us our lives back".
The IT/user relationship has changed; we need to move our relationship model from 'command and control' to 'collaboration and trust'.
Neil Gong, NZMA
We're an organisation or an institution that's selling knowledge or learning. The way that the audience consumes it: If the audience has got more choice and more ability to interact on their own terms but still be assessed, and the process is still the same result, then that's a good thing.
Minister of Science and Innovation Steven Joyce had hosted a MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) session, which had the CEO of EdX (online open course) present. There is government interest in that method of delivery. And if you combine it with the ubiquity in giving the customers their time back, which is what mobility does, suddenly you're completely transforming the industry. It's going to change both IT and for some existing methods of delivery.
Phil Giller, account manager -- education, Samsung New Zealand
In the banking sector, look at the successful banks. I just noticed the other day there's virtually nothing I can't do on my mobile with that bank. And securely and quite literally they backed it up with tiers of service.
So if education is all about being customer centric, then the composition of the mobility platform and the ubiquitous delivery through the cloud and through other means is really going to transform industries. But there is a caveat, because large organisations actually need to identify people, such as RealMe [verified online identity] from the New Zealand government.
How do we help our students with the data they get and put it in a meaningful way?
Andy Parker, St Cuthbert's College
Outcomes are important. Yes, there's a composite ecosystem here that's evolving around us, and it's going at pace. It's not necessarily going all in the same direction, but you can see it coming together. That is going to transform what we do, especially in education. Giving the people what they need to complete their study at their time and cost effectively, ubiquitously, is really where this is moving.
Aubrey Christmas, Elim (Churches) Colleges: Two years ago, we launched our distance learning program. Currently, the distance learning numbers are surpassing the traditional classroom, possibly because it provides people the flexibility to carry on work and studies at the same time. Additionally, they can work and get up-skilled. So again, it's providing a new strategy and infrastructure for these organisations to deliver what has been discussed has become a big challenge.
The word now is 'any pace'. It's about catering for those students' pace and that pace might change depending where they are and what they're doing.
Stefan Lecchi, Samsung NZ
Simon Pomeroy, Westpac: We don't have to educate customers now to use online banking, customers are already there. Fifteen years ago, when we created online banking, we all had to be educated because none of us had used it before. Now, you create services through a mobile phone and customers are using it straight away. So there's a difference now in terms of adoption of technology.
We're always looking at this new technology and seeing what application it could have. But for us it's about customer experience, not about technology. We see what services customers will want to be able to do quickly and easily. Things like viewing account balances -- we used to take a million calls a year to our call centre.
Fifteen years ago, when we created online banking, we all had to be educated because none of us had used it before. Now, you create services through a mobile phone and customers are using it straight away.
Simon Pomeroy, Westpac
Customers rang up asking, 'What's the balance of my account?' We created a simple app called Cash Tank where you can tap on it and get the balance of your accounts straight away. We now see 40 million taps a year with Cash Tank.
Tim Chaffe: At a recent meeting, it was reported that Drop Box was the most used piece of research infrastructure for academics in New Zealand. If you set policies too tightly, if you say you're only allowed to do this or that, then you drive the underground economy of IT. If you don't provide the service to deliver what they need, they'll just graduate to where the service is. And mobile devices make that so much easier than before.
Simon Pomeroy, Westpac: I personally think wearable technology will have a place to play in this element and environment. Wearable technology naturally extends mobile technology.
When you look at the kind of organisations that are developing this technology, they are large technology companies that really understand customer behaviour. My view is wearable technology has a place to play, particularly around health, education and banking, as well as a whole other range of industries. And it will offer customers even faster and easier ways to consume what we're doing today through the mobile phone.
Tim Chaffe, University of Auckland: Finance Minister Bill English recently gave a presentation where he wanted to move to evidence-based policy. If you think about the way that we find out how things work, we do it by surveys and we do it on a retrospective basis. So if we've got everybody with a device and we have everybody interacting we suddenly have live data, live measurement. Measuring how people are using things and being instrumented will help us make much better decisions going forward for some things. It helps us actually know a lot earlier from a research point of view. Does this learning object work or not? You can tell, immediately.
Angsana Techatassanasoontorn, AUT: And you can fine tune it on the spot.
Even though they don't want to engage in email communication during their non-work hours, they see somebody else replying at slightly odd hours. So you get into this 'Everybody else is doing it, I'm doing it too'. My concern would be, are we getting ourselves into an unsustainable work rhythm?
Simon Pomeroy, Westpac: As a bank, we have to make choices -- do we still invest the same amount we've invested for the last 20 years on our physical footprint, or build this in a digital lens because otherwise you're just adding twice the cost?
We're passengers in this. We're not setting the direction for what our customers are doing. They're telling us, just like your students. We need to be customer-led (in our approach). We're on the ride in the same way as the academic institutions, because our customers are telling us what they want and how they want it. If we don't provide it, they'll go somewhere else. And that's the key piece. Photos by Jason Creaghan
This is part of a series of CIO New Zealand roundtable discussions on 'the next phase of mobility' held in conjunction with Samsung.
Send comments and suggestions for future CIO roundtable topics to [email protected]
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