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Digital UBC Community Update, March 28, 2022
Digital UBC aims to develop a forward-looking strategy that advances Shaping UBC's Next Century and reflects the needs of the community in the context of a post-pandemic world.
With a view to sustaining UBC's position at the forefront of technology experimentation and adoption in the sector, the digital strategy will guide technology decisions, actions and investments across UBC over the coming years, with due consideration to UBC's financial capacity and organizational readiness.
Ultimately, Digital UBC will focus on opportunities to strengthen working relationships across the university, reinforcing institutional commitments to inclusion, collaboration and innovation. When complete in June 2022, the digital strategy and roadmap will provide a framework for the ongoing evolution in technology and digital capabilities across the university.
Since October of last year, engagement levels in imagining UBC's Digital Future have remained high. The level of interest and support from the university community has been energizing and a source of inspiration.
To date, Digital UBC has:
- Conducted 25 x 1-1 interviews with UBC Executive, Deans and IT Advisory Council (ITAC) members.
- Invited input from 120+ academic and administrative leaders at 5 facilitated, interactive workshops.
- Hosted 210 staff at a townhall for IT professionals.
- Received online feedback from faculty, staff, and students as well as over 100+ survey responses from IT professionals.
- Hosted 50+ student, faculty, and staff across 8 focus group sessions to gain additional insight
- Gathered input from academic and administrative advisory committees, senior IT leadership, and key players in other university planning initiatives to consider institutional perspectives and connections.
The feedback and conversations have reinforced the commitment our community has to ongoing improvement, and confirmed general convergence across the needs of community members, recognizing of course that there are also important differences in context and perspectives.
Some of the findings are highlighted below:
- The need for a more explicitly people-centric approach to optimize the use of technology, necessitating also greater digital fluency across the university.
- The critical importance of interoperability and consistency in user experience, requiring careful balance and connection between institution-wide and local solutions.
- The general sense that there is significant potential to be unleashed in optimizing our use of existing systems and tools, balanced with a commitment to the adoption of new technologies to advance the public mission of the university.
- The need to reduce inequities in digital assets and accessibility across the UBC community, and the scope for so doing through Digital UBC.
- The synergies between technology and advancing UBC's climate action plans.
- The demand for stabilization in support for remote work, notably improved collaboration tools.
- The opportunities for improved connection across UBC campuses and between the university and its partners.
- The imperative for sustained resourcing of foundational technology and services, recognizing the fiscal pressures on the university.
- Specifically, the need for ever-increasing investment in cybersecurity, privacy and data-related risk management.
Informed by our engagements to date, the Digital UBC team is beginning to develop the digital strategy and will be inviting community perspectives on the emerging themes. This next set of conversations will begin with various university leadership groups and will be followed by deeper dives with students, faculty, and staff into selected topic areas in sessions we are calling Digital Dialogues.
The Digital UBC Community Survey remains open until April 29, 2022 and a town hall is being scheduled for May to allow for broader input as the draft strategy comes together. You can stay up to date and subscribe to the Digital UBC mailing list by visiting the Get Connected section of the Digital UBC site.
Thank you to all those who have contributed their time, ideas, and advice. We look forward to continued dialogue with the community as we together chart Digital UBC.
January 25, 2022
Sign up for a Focus Group in February and Share your Digital Vision
Faculty, staff and students are invited to contribute ideas and feedback on current experiences with technology at UBC in a physical and virtual digital context. The 90-minute focus group(s) will include a brief overview of Digital UBC, followed by interactive exercises to explore areas that are critical to your success and would deliver the most value to you, and your digital vision and priorities for the university.
Register now (CWL required) to help shape the university's digital future. We want to hear all points of view and a diverse range of lived experiences, so please join us even if you don't feel well versed in the digital landscape.
January 5, 2022
What We're Learning from Initial Digital UBC Consultations
Digital UBC community consultations are well underway. We're grateful for the thoughtful and engaging virtual conversations we've had with our colleagues at UBCV and UBCO and the many ideas and perspectives provided to help shape UBC's digital strategy.
Since October 2021, the Digital UBC team has:
- conducted 25 1-1 interviews with UBC Executive, Deans and IT Advisory Council (ITAC) members;
- invited input from 120+ academic and administrative leaders at 5 facilitated, interactive workshops;
- hosted 210 staff at a townhall for IT professionals;
- received online feedback forms from faculty, staff and students
Generally speaking, participants indicated that good progress has been made over the last five years, especially in advanced research, enterprise systems renewal, governance, data management, privacy and security, and IT leadership. These advancements are referenced as contributing factors in the university and community's ability to quickly pivot in teaching, learning, and research at the onset of the pandemic. Also, people shared there is an enhanced community understanding of role and value of technology, and their trust in IT has strengthened during this time.
While there have been many achievements in recent years, we heard there is recognition of work ahead to fully operationalize Workday following its successful launch in 2020. Additionally, given the varying needs of the university, there is a natural tension between institution-wide and locally implemented solutions which present interoperability challenges, resulting in frustration with fragmentation.
Feedback from consultations highlighted the need to balance institutional agility, given the pace of change, with resourcing constraints, inequities in digital assets and accessibility across the UBC community and the demand for enhanced change management including communication and training with respect to technology and digital fluency.
There are many more opportunities to get involved at upcoming community consultations.
January 4, 2022
Start the New Year by Providing Feedback on UBC's Digital Future
The Digital UBC community survey is an opportunity for students, faculty and staff to share your experiences using technology at UBC today and perspectives on your priorities to help shape the digital future. Your ideas and input will be combined with voices from across the campus community to contribute to the development of UBC's first institution-wide digital strategy, and resulting roadmap. Take the survey now.
December 16, 2021
Digital UBC Townhall for IT Professionals
Today, over 200 IT professionals from across UBC joined a townhall meeting to get an introduction to Digital UBC and hear about the feedback and themes that have emerged from early community consultations. Andrew Szeri, Provost and Vice-President Academic kicked-off the townhall with a virtual greeting and gratitude for the exceptional work of the IT community since the beginning of the pandemic. He framed Digital UBC and its importance in setting the stage to ensure that UBC has the technology it needs to meet its future aspirations to advance the university's Strategic Plan, Shaping the Next Century.
Dr. Murali Chandrashekaran, Vice-Provost, International and Fred H. Siller Professor of Marketing and Behavioural Science from the Sauder School of Business delivered a thought-provoking presentation about the importance of considering the lens by which Digital Transformation is viewed i.e., post-digital, post-pandemic, post-colonial etc. He cited disruptions in value creation in the business world and how newcomers have upended established brands through digital transformation. He concluded with an overview of the 7S Imperatives of Digital Transformation and future possibilities and opportunities for the university to harness digital technologies.
IT staff in attendance were invited to participate in three live polls during the session to gauge their perceptions of UBC's current technology environment, their digital vision and where the university can improve. Following the townhall, the IT community received an online survey to provide additional input on Digital UBC.
December 6, 2021
UBC's First Digital Strategy – Provide your Feedback
In order to meet the diverse technology needs at UBC, now and into the future, the university is developing its first-ever institution-wide digital strategy. The timing is ideal to assess how technology can enable and shape the university going forward to address fundamental changes in research, teaching and learning, and work practices. Faculty, student and staff perspectives on how the university can prioritize and connect these advances will define UBC over the next five to ten years, including important implications for access, equity, and sustainability. Provide your feedback now by completing this feedback form.
November 30, 2021
Academic and Administrative Leaders Come Together to Consider UBC's Digital Future
Today marked the start of a conversation with Associate Directors, Research, Associate Directors, Academic, Heads, Directors and administrative leaders from Vancouver and Okanagan campuses to contribute to the creation of UBC's first institution-wide digital strategy. In the coming weeks, five workshops are planned with breakout discussions focused on hearing from attendees on their sense of the current state of technology at UBC; the digital capabilities that are critical to help them achieve their individual and team strategies and objectives; and where technology can add the most value and impact for the university. Feedback gathered during these workshops will be combined with prior input from community consultations to shape the digital strategy to benefit faculty, students and staff.
A Step-by-Step Approach to Digital UBC
Digital UBC is following a four-phase (preparation, discovery, development and alignment) process to allow time for broad community consultation with university leaders, students, faculty, and staff. The first phase (preparation) from September – October 2021 and is focused on forming Advisory Committees and a Working Group to develop a project plan, communications and engagement approach and to scope a research review of peer institutions. In phase 2, from November 2021 – January 2022, the priority is to conduct 1-1 interviews with key leadership groups and consultation with academics and administrators via interactive workshops to solicit input on digital priorities. From February to April 2022, the development phase, consultations will continue with focus groups, theme-based discussions and townhalls to build out the strategy framework and share emerging themes. Finally, in phase 4, Digital UBC will seek alignment by inviting campus community feedback on the draft strategy to enable refinement of the roadmap based on discussions with UBC executive, ITAC, and Advisory Committees.
What a Digital Strategy is and is not...
Digital UBC will articulate a digital vision, strategy and roadmap for the university by engaging students, faculty and staff in a thoughtful process to understand their needs and priorities. As such, it's important to begin with an understanding of what a digital strategy is and is not. A digital strategy is people-centric as opposed to being solely technology-centric i.e., it's not an IT strategy recast as a digital strategy. While aspirational, a digital strategy is more action-oriented with clearly identified priorities of technology as an enabler. A digital strategy is not a static document revisited only every 3-5 years, but instead a living document, regularly reviewed, revised and agile in its structure to serve the evolving needs of the campus community.
UBC Starts the Journey to Create its First Institution-wide Digital Strategy
Digital UBC was launched this month with the formation of an Advisory Committee comprised of leaders from across UBC and a Working Group under the guidance of the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO). Once the scope and approach are determined, the Working Group will develop a project plan, identify milestones and create a communications and engagement strategy to involve the campus community in the development of the digital strategy. Beginning in September, 1-1 interviews will be scheduled with UBC executive, ITAC members and other key leaders to formalize the scope and project approach.;