Strengthening a UK universitys digital capabilities to deliver its strategy

Strengthening a UK university’s digital capabilities to deliver its strategy

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The city-based university is committed to research, enterprise and teaching, achieving middling scores on comparative measures of quality of teaching, student experience and student satisfaction.

A new strategy required improved IT capabilities

Amid a rapidly changing operating environment, the university was implementing a new strategy that required improved digital capabilities. To guide its activities and investments for the next five years, the university engaged Nous to design a whole-of-university IT strategy.

The road map was informed by the current state and future opportunities

Nous collaborated with the university to deliver the project in three stages:

  1. Understand and articulate the vision and strategic priorities. This involved interviewing more than 30 faculty and professional services staff to capture their vision for IT at the university and to map out the current supply, demand and controls for IT. We also conducted a student workshop to understand their current and future needs.
  2. Identify opportunities and develop the ideal end state. Building on our qualitative research, we benchmarked the university’s position and used this to identify opportunities to shape the ideal end state. We also conducted a gap analysis and scoped initial costs for four business cases for future investments in technology.
  3. Develop a new IT strategy and road map. Based on the consultations, Nous transformed the IT strategy into a digital strategy, as it emerged that this would better enable the university to deliver its overall strategy. A detailed road map then identified every point on the student experience journey, pointing to good and bad current experiences, and opportunities for improvement.

The university is putting the digital strategy into operation

In our final report to the university, we offered recommendations on the operational and strategic steps necessary to create this future digital environment. The digital strategy was well received by the university executive and has been endorsed by the council.

Nous is now working with the university to deliver the first and second phases of the digital strategy, including developing a communication and change management strategy, supporting the establishment of governance arrangements and a new organisational structure, and progressing the priority business cases.

What you can learn from the university

Digital strategy needs to be crafted to support a broader institutional or corporate strategy.

To identify an ideal end state it is vital to understand your current position and to identify emerging opportunities.

Flexibility during the process of developing a strategy is essential, so that what started as an IT strategy can be allowed to evolve into a full digital strategy.