Fordham IT Receives Digital Edge 50 Innovation Award


Digital Edge 50 Award graphic
Fordham IT has been named a Digital Edge 50 Honoree, an award that recognizes outstanding achievement in digital innovation in the technology sector. A panel of industry experts and business and technology executives selected Fordham IT for demonstrating a true “digital edge” for the way we accommodate the ever-evolving needs of our higher education environment. They also recognized Fordham IT for providing a stable and reliable environment for our administrative systems, including Banner. We were also honored for our ongoing effort to improve support and increase services for our community of over 17,000 members.

A Unique Partnership
Fordham IT forged a unique (for higher education) partnership with our Banner provider and enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendor, Ellucian. Using the software as a service (SaaS) model, we moved our enterprise administrative systems (including enrollment, financial aid, human resources, finance, alumni development, and advancement) from 160 internally-managed servers to Amazon Web Services. In so doing, we became a fully hosted and managed client. This pioneering effort, the first of its kind for Ellucian and Fordham IT, resulted in an innovative model for enterprise system implementation and management to be used by other higher education institutions.

A Mission-Based Response
Our move to the cloud made our organization more responsive to our community and the University’s broader, Jesuit-based mission, which is transforming education through caring for the whole person. We take that mission seriously. The move forced our staff to expand their expertise as they transitioned from back-end roles in programming and infrastructure to front-facing, community-oriented ones. This allowed Fordham IT to place greater emphasis on providing service and technology resources to the University’s three main campuses and beyond, around the globe.

New, Cross-Functional Teams
We also reorganized our staff into nimble, cross-functional teams built according to how each person’s skill set complemented other members’ expertise. In so doing, we maximized our collaborative potential as we place deeper focus on higher level thinking and business analytics, streamline business processes, and expand our emphasis on service and support for academics. Silos are becoming a thing of the past here as effective collaboration becomes the norm among IT staff and with other administrative and academic areas.

Staff are also becoming generalists rather than specialists. Moving our systems to managed cloud servers means we no longer need staff to build servers or write reports, do backups, recovery and business continuity, and so on. Twelve staff members now have completely new roles in areas such as business analysts, vendor and cloud vendor management, solution integration, and contract negotiation. Staff also spend more time collaborating with faculty and students to further the university’s teaching and research mission.

Reaching Out to Peers at Other Institutions
Our innovative partnership with Ellucian has also led to an SaaS development partner group that includes four other schools. One of our goals is to help other higher institutions use this new model to move away from needing an in-house IT staff to provide all the technical labor and toward a managed and more stable virtual environment; to develop their existing and new technology resources; and to provide better constituent-facing support. Such a model will bring higher education institutions in alignment with expectations and the technology demands of students, faculty and staff, now and in the future.

About the Digital Edge 50 Award
The Digital Edge 50 Award is sponsored by CIO, the premier content and community resource for information technology executives and leaders and Computerworld, the leading IT media brand helping senior IT, business decision-makers and key influencers navigate change with effective business strategy

“The complexity and scale of the initiatives in the Digital Edge 50 show how quickly organizations are progressing to the next phase of digital transformation,” said Anne McCrory, Digital Edge program chair and Group VP, Customer Experience and Operations, IDG Enterprise Events. “They are taking advantage of new capabilities, such as AI and deep machine learning, to enhance their mobile and analytics practices worldwide. They are finding dramatic results from the cloud, and serving customers in faster and more elegant ways. Their adoption of agile, extreme programming and completely reworked business processes show how even the most traditional businesses can go big with digital with the right vision and leadership.”

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