Managing IT to Innovate and Strategize in the Higher Education Sector: Role of Enterprise Systems

Managing IT to Innovate and Strategize in the Higher Education Sector: Role of Enterprise Systems

Prithvi Jyoti Bhattacharya (Higher Colleges of Technology, UAE)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5279-6.ch002
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The current dynamic business landscape has compelled all organizations worldwide to innovate and strategize continually to remain competitive and achieve an edge in the market. Information technology has often made lofty promises to assist such endeavors. This chapter explores the management of large, integrated, and packaged software suites collectively called enterprise systems (ES) to enable innovation and strategic decision making in organizations. In particular, this chapter explains how a globally renowned and highly ranked university manages its enterprise-systems-based IT platform to offer new services, develop new processes, and make astute strategic decisions – all in an attempt to retain and improve its position in the global higher education market.
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In recent times, Information Technology (IT) has been reported to play a strategic role in organizations, and a variant of IT called ‘Enterprise Systems’ are increasingly becoming the favored IT platform around the world. Enterprise Systems (ES) are large-scale, packaged, application systems that can be used to streamline and integrate business processes, and enhance information levels within the organization as well as with its business partners. ES has become a generic term that includes a number of systems like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and other similar systems. These systems were originally adopted to improve operational efficiency. However, all organizations that have adopted Enterprise Systems hope to get more out of these systems than just improving operational efficiency; they want to be able to strategize and innovate, and thus compete better in the market. This case study, using a highly ranked and world-renowned University based in Australia, attempts to explore how Enterprise Systems can enable organizations to innovate and strategize.


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)

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.

The University should focus its development in a limited number of strategic priority areas in which it has outstanding and demonstrated strength and capacity and critical mass, while providing broad opportunities in other areas which do not warrant the same priority in core resource allocation – a broad base with a sharp edge. (Academic Staff Member, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences)

A US-style BA-BSc that enabled students to develop more background knowledge and discover their interests might be wise. (Academic Staff Member, Department of History and Philosophy of Science/School of Population Health)

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.

The approach embraces the notion of a triple helix: a public-spirited institution, defined by tightly-bound strands of research, teaching and knowledge transfer, offering its students, staff and community one of the finest universities in the world. (Vice Chancellor)

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