Drivers behind UBC’s Digital Strategy

In highly disruptive environments, UBC runs the risk of missed opportunities if we are unable to match the speed and development of new technologies.

Technology has been an important part of the educational landscape for many years now and developments such as high-speed networking, wireless connectivity, online platforms and eCommerce have fundamentally enhanced and enabled UBC’s capabilities. Looking into the near future, there are several developments that creating disruptions that, if not considered as part of our overall strategy, could pose threats or missed opportunities.

We know that artificial intelligence, IoT, augmented and virtual reality, mechanization and other new capabilities are beginning to have an effect. We already see chatbots being requested by faculty members at UBC, robots being employed by Building Operations, and sensors aiding in improving the operations in Parking. These are but the tip of the iceberg in terms of what is likely to be encountered over the next several years.

Our vendors are already building AI capability into new systems such as Service Now, Salesforce, and Workday; our faculty are experimenting with using machine learning for marking papers; our peers are incorporating AI into intelligent advisors for students and experimenting with new models that create new learning opportunities, markets, and platforms.

Activities already underway at UBC, such as the partnership with Rogers to undertake a 5G pilot, will quickly lead to unforeseen opportunities that groups or individuals across UBC will use to experiment and create new experiences, products and services.

Technology change is not new, but what is different from the past 20 years is the speed of the development of new digital capabilities, the combination of these new capabilities with the increased computing power, new market entrants, and the convergence of physical and digital, and the ability for intelligent machine to machine communications. In additional to technological enhancements, societal shifts such as demographics, economics, and immigration could all disrupt the status quo.