Strategizing and Innovating with Enterprise Systems: The Case of a Public University

Strategizing and Innovating with Enterprise Systems: The Case of a Public University

Prithvi Bhattacharya (Computer Information Systems Department, Higher Colleges of Technology, Sharjah, UAE)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/JCIT.2016040101

Abstract

The higher education industry worldwide is currently facing a number of challenges in trying to be academically competitive and operationally efficient at the same time. Information technology, in the form of large scale Enterprise Systems, have shown the promise of enabling them to run their operations more efficiently and at the same time compete better in the academic market. This case discusses a globally renowned and highly ranked public University based in Australia and its journey of adopting an Enterprise System. The case further illustrates how the organization, enabled by its Enterprise Systems, achieved both operational efficiency as well as managed to retain its position at the top end of the academic market through innovation and better strategic decisions.
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Background

This section presents an overview of the chosen organization for the case study: its basic facts, mission, vision and strategy.

Basic Facts

UniCo (real name not disclosed for confidentiality reasons) is a public university located in Australia. It was founded in the 19th century and is one of the oldest Universities in Australia. It is a member of Australia's “Group of Eight” universities and the Universitas 21. The University time and again ranks among the top universities in Australia and the world. UniCo has one of the highest financial endowments of any university in Australia. UniCo has consistently ranked first or second on the key national research indicators set up by the federal government to allocate public funds for research and training infrastructure in the nation. The university has close to 36,000 students, and more than 7,300 staff members, both academic and professional. Figure 1 shows a partial view of the high level organization chart of UniCo.

Figure 1.

Organization structure (partial) (Source: UniCo Website)

Mission and Strategy

UniCo was originally established to offer degrees to advantaged students at a standard that would be at par with that of Oxford. In subsequent times, the University took up research, public service, and cultural initiatives in line with its spirit as a public institution. Today, UniCo retains its public spirit, but is now a massive complex organization facing the insecurity of being between the extremes of regulated responsibility towards the public and market-driven private income. It aims to strike a balance between a traditional vision of teaching and research with the more recent objectives to meet professional, economic, and community demands.

To realize the vision to be ‘one of the finest in the world’, UniCo devised the Triple Helix’, with three key priorities for the institution – research, teaching and knowledge transfer. As the name suggests, the triple helix is made up of three strands intertwined with each other. The first strand, Research, involves the systematic generation of new knowledge, birth, and growth of new ideas and experimentation with new techniques. The second strand, Learning and Teaching, involves a body of ideas, is informed by available research, and implants inquiry as way of thinking. The final strand, knowledge transfer, involves many dimensions of interaction between academia and society at large.

Challenges Faced By The Organization

UniCo was challenged by the current trends in the higher education sector globally – increased pressure to publish more research, an enormous rise in enrolments of local and international students, diminishing financial support from the government, and increasing dependence on fee-paying students to finance core activities. To achieve the mission of being ‘one of the finest’ universities globally, UniCo needed an internal discipline of regular evaluation of its activities and outcomes. It also needed the flexibility to shift resources to address indicators of academic performance, and fine-tuning the measures that faculties and departments use to make strategic decisions.

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