In my last post, about approaching outsourcing in higher education from a strategic view that goes beyond simple cost savings or privacy concerns, I talked about how outsourcing should either lower costs, increase value, or do both in order to help an organization develop and maintain a competitive advantage.
Defining competitive advantage in higher education or specifically IT therein is not easy. It’s more than simply how a university or college does in rankings or how well it attracts students. It might be measurable in terms of how it does compared to its direct competitors – how many times a student that applies to both schools chooses a particular one is somewhat indicative of a competitive advantage.
But let’s just presume that there are a great many factors that lead to something akin to an advantage that is useful when in competition for the best and brightest students with other schools. The quantity of factors makes it all the harder to quantify the benefit of specific strategic planning decisions, but overall there is at least room for reasonable conjecture.
So the question remains – what should be outsourced? What activities do technology departments in higher education engage in that are not directly beneficial in terms of competitive advantage? What activities could be best outsourced such that cost goes down, value goes up, or both, leading to more students choosing one school over another?