Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Monday, February 22, 2010

U-M announces plan to transform information technology
Questions and answers about U-M’s new IT Governance Structure >

NextGen Michigan, a multi-year strategy for employing state-of-the-art technology to advance the U-M mission, kicks off this month.

Provost Teresa Sullivan and Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Tim Slottow are leading the effort. Over the past six months, Sullivan and Slottow set the groundwork for the strategy with Dan Atkins, associate vice president for research cyberinfrastructure; Paul Courant, university librarian and dean of libraries; Jocelyn DeWitt, chief information officer for U-M Hospitals and Health Centers; John King, vice provost for academic information; and Laura Patterson associate vice president for Information and Technology Services and chief information officer.

“In 1966 U-M was the first to leverage the Web to interconnect with other universities. This game-changing use of the Internet reshaped research and eventually became the backbone of the National Science Foundation’s NSFNET,” Sullivan says. “We believe that NextGen Michigan will foster a similar level of innovative thinking. Technology’s pervasive influence in all we do is critical to maintaining our leadership in research, teaching and learning.”

Slottow explains how the strategy also will help contribute to the goal to reduce U-M’s budget by $100 million. “One of the key pillars of NextGen is changing to a shared services approach. Data shows a shared services model reduces overall costs 10-20 percent. Our goal is to use some of the savings to reinvest and transform our IT services.”

Watch the town halls
View the town hall sessions covering the elements of NextGen Michigan at nextgen.umich.edu.

In a series of campus town halls, Patterson outlined the highlights of the ambitious plans. There are four main components to the strategy: moving to a shared services model, creating alignment that includes instituting an IT Governance Structure, the rationalization of IT, and enabling units to focus on technology that differentiates their school or college.

IT Governance Structure and rationalizing IT resources now are gearing up. Nominations from interested faculty to serve on a governance committee are being accepted through March 12.

The first step toward making NextGen happened last year when the central IT groups merged into one organization.

“These initial efforts will pave the way for creating the shared infrastructure, products and services that will free up the resources we need to get to the next level,” Patterson says.

“The IT Governance Structure members will shape U-M’s vision for the future. Currently, no single body or set of policies governs the prioritization of IT investments, nor is there a means to evaluate their efficiency or effectiveness. Consequently, we are behind in some key areas such as mobile computing and high-performance computing.”

Some of the new things Patterson says campus community members can expect in the near future are high-performance computer clusters, faculty start-up packages, collaboration tools, mobile computing tools and applications, and Web conferencing.

“This approach will allow a unit to focus on meeting the unique IT needs of the department, college or school,” Sullivan says. “The university as a whole also will benefit from economies of scale as we leverage the vast resources of our vendors.”