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First Class - World Class?
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Whose Web?
Prof M. J. Clark
Director Manchester Computing
The University of Manchester
World class?
The context and environment
The ten factors
The architecture issues
The gateway and ERP
The semantic web & web services
Knowledge Management
Some conclusions
Background to the question?
9 months ago (Oct 1 2004):
The Victoria University of Manchester merged with UMIST
creating The University of Manchester
Background - 2
 However: just A+B would be deemed a failure!
 The merger is premised on establishing a worldclass institution (vision: Manchester 2015)
 all constituent parts were asked
• what does world-class look like
• what is necessary to be/become world-class….
Context 1: Information
Services Environment
 Information services – central to the university
for all its activities
• Very expensive infrastructures
• significant number of single points of failure
– All aspect must be assessed by risk analysis
• costs and support issues largely invisible to the user
– the iceberg!
• The fastest changing area of the University
• Staff skills have short 'half-life'
– Requires ambitious programme of staff development (and
• Everyone thinks they are experts!
• They are becoming so!
• Solutions have to scale to support national usage and
Institutions 50,000+ users
Context 2: The environment
 Modern Government
• “education, education, education”
• massification/diversification/social inclusion
• e-access to all areas of public services
 Education - a lifetime experience
• A holistic approach to Lifelong Learning
‘The customer is king’
The e-revolution
Context 3: Economic, Political
and Peer pressures
Peer Pressure and
Higher Education,
Changing Customer
Context 4: Holistic learning
Dynamic learning
Anyone anytime
Context 5:
 21st Century life’s two great equalisers:
• education
• IT and the Internet
 Both should/will be abundantly available to all
• Not simply for national economic well-being but for individual
social fulfilment
 Requirement to blend long-term vision with
short/medium term pragmatism
Context 6:
The academic story
University 2005+
Increasing Differentiation
Escalating Price Competition
Consortial Models
Outputs Assessment
Financially viability
Changing academic roles?
Changing support roles
Context 7: Globalisation
Who can predict the future?
• Certainly not Universities
we can’t plan a certain future
• There are only two global
• We must expect attack from
new providers!
• HEIs are not alone in feeling
• Evident in many industries
mergers, takeovers, collapse of
some economies
The certainties:
• New skills, a possible
information culture & an
information rich & poor
World Class?
& the ten factors!
 The dictionary defines world class as "ranking
among the foremost in the world; of an
international standard of excellence."
• Fine who decides?
 For universities, world-class standing is built on
reputation and perception
• often seen as subjective and uncertain
• and it requires outstanding performance in many
Factors (1): Quality of Faculty
A world-class university will be widely recognised as an
eminent institution
• as a place where top staff will wish to congregate and given
opportunity staff from other universities will migrate towards
In turn top faculty attracts top students.
The process is auto-catalytic
It is almost certain to be research-intensive
• it also must educate well; a place where people will want to
spend time for the experience, and to associate with the
fame and respect that goes with this
Academic freedom and an atmosphere of intellectual
excitement is essential
Factors (2): Research
Reputation is Critical
Research will be perceived as excellent
Research performance should excite and inform the
learning process for all members of the university
• it should be seen to deliver worthwhile ‘outcomes’
• economic benefit (to region/nation) is to be ‘expected’
• i.e. build reputational capital and hence be at jeopardy
• keep the pressure on those who wish to be seen as the best.
A university perceived to be world class now ‘may’ not be
in the eyes of the next generation
• Mobility in reputations, as much as with staff and students,
helps keep the flame alive!
Factors (3): Importance of a
Talented Undergraduate Body
 World class institutions will enrol the best of the
• as in the past, so into the future
 Increasingly students have a choice
• national and international reputation is a very big edge
• an edge to be ‘claimed’ by partaking
 There is a special impact created from having
thousands of exceptionally talented students
• a campus buzz!!
Factors (4): An International
 Universities not constrained by national borders
• International recruitment of staff and students
 A world shrinking through:
• globalisation of economies,
• revolution in international access, real and virtual
• the opening of minds to international engagement
• through people networks that interlace study, work, & leisure
Factors (5): Resourcing is an
excellence Issue
 The move to massification in higher education
has significantly changed the agenda.
• how the balancing of private and public sourcing for
university resourcing is handled, largely by
governments, will have a profound bearing on where
the world-class universities are based.
 The title of world-class doesn’t come at a
• without world-class funding the goal of reaching, and
preserving high standards is rhetoric alone.
Factors (6): Multi-Disciplines
 World-class institutions ‘generally’
accommodate a large number of disciplines
• ensures cross-fertilisation of ideas and a frissance
which comes from the gathering together elite groups
 Multi-disciplinarity offers fertile research
• Must be bottom-up lead; top down facilitated
Factors (7): Being Technologically
 World Class institutions are about the discovery
and transmission of knowledge
 ICT infrastructures now underpin core business
functions & increasingly impact pedagogy
• world class institutions will not retain position simply
by standing still!
Factors (8): Excellent
Management & Governance
 Eminent institutions excel in research & teaching.
• However, paralleling and supporting those core activities
will be an excellence of process management
underpinned by first-rate administrative systems.
 Good management tensions
• between collegiality and managerialism.
Governance: World-class institutions have
significant internal self-governance
• but aligned with accountability
• the control over core elements of academic life must
rest with the academics
Factors (9): The Virtual
 World-class universities view the "virtual
university" phenomenon with some anxiety
• it throws open to all comers opportunities
 There are many potential competitors (or
• virtual attributes, managed carefully, can breathe life
into strategic alliances, can help bring institutions
otherwise isolated beyond the critical mass to compete
in the larger league.
Factors (10): Cautions!
 There are choices to be made, and strategies to
be set, and while it once took centuries to build
reputation as a university of renown, the
timeline on this has been collapsed.
 Because the discovery and transmission of
knowledge is so accelerated, and because there
is a whole new game plan for collaboration and
co-operation, as well as competition,
universities of world-class standing can emerge
in a matter of decades.
Back to the world-class
question and Manchester?
The merger offers opportunity to rethink the strategy for
IT/IS delivery to meet the needs of the next decade.
• ‘Green field’ situation
The role of information systems is critical to the
aspirations of the Institution
• support to teaching & research is critical
• support to the business function offers real opportunity
I will highlight the expectations through investment in
infrastructure and services based on the web!
• this has to be owned by the Institution as a whole as the costs
and the risks are enormous.
How do we deliver world class IS
internally to support the business?
Facilitate a technology empowered, not led, environment
for the University
Must grasp opportunities to be a leader, not follower
• effective deployment of technologies, systems and services
can facilitate business advantage
What is required for the next five years?
• to provide a transparent and seamless interface to teaching,
research and administrative information services;
• i.e. it is about integration of information and access to it!
Information systems offer opportunity to rethink every
aspect of our business model and business processes.
• Business process re-engineering supported by high quality
information systems it will be possible to transform the
efficiency and effectiveness in support of our core missions.
Use every opportunity
Reorganisation presented an opportunity to:
• ensure optimal strategic approaches adopted for
management of all information systems services
organise structures and management responsibilities around
the services and underpinning architectures
organise for an empowerment culture
• with devolved responsibility and accountability
• optimise structures for cost effective but resilient operations
• Plan for 99.999% availability
• focus on a customer centric service approach
• measured against SLA’s and performance metrics
• facilitate practical working arrangements
• between core infrastructure support and service support teams
• facilitate more seamless change to arising technologies
What are the considerations?
Change management!
Computing infrastructure underpins the University
The rate of change of technologies requires staff to have
a continuous desire to re-skill – (much easier if you are
internally research active!).
The shortening life of technologies/infrastructures makes
an investment appraisal essential to determine ROI.
• in almost every area of its operation.
• Must recognise the ‘business’ opportunities and threats
The modern IS specialist must be concerned with support
planning and delivery including training
• this underpins the provision of knowledge and information in
electronic form.
The support requirements are being transformed
• the user being the ‘owner’ of the access technologies
• thus requiring remote and virtual support.
An IS architecture to provide
an environment:
Where the IS solutions maximize efficiency and
effectiveness handling of:
• routine transactions and access to support
• creating solutions for less routine but essential transactions
That facilitates University staff to provide the highest
levels of customer service
• whilst maintaining high degrees of job satisfaction
Where staff have ready access to tools necessary to do
their job efficiently and effectively
With simplified processes and policies within constraints
• acknowledging risks associated with devolved authority
Rich in services through a single aggregated interface
accessible from networked devices
The Principles
Strive for Simplification
• Develop tools that can be flexibly applied to reduce the complexity
of University business processes.
Enhance Individuals Productivity
• Provide flexible tools that individuals can use to perform their roles
more effectively.
Encourage Collaboration and Common Process
• alliances with and between stakeholders in process mechanisms in
order to further the University's goals.
Empower Technologies as an Investment
• View IS investment in systems, staff and process as an investment
that will yield a return in exchange for up-front expenditures with
full transparency of any assumptions of risk.
Focus on Outcomes
• Measure and assess projects and teams by what is accomplished.
Base Infrastructures
 24 x 7 & five nines requires major investment
• Multiple: data centres, networks, power…..
Enterprise Server architectures
SANs, NAS, Mirroring…..
• Lights out computing approach
IT Hierarchy of Needs
World Class IT Infrastructures
Technical maturity leads to business value
• Let’s look at the stack hierarchy
The ‘Gateway’ to information
and knowledge
 Consolidating & aggregating the delivery of online information services; integration and
effectiveness at the data layer
• self-service, improved access, improved efficiency and
effectiveness of service.
 Access tailored to individual requirements
• Authenticate for privileges associated to an individual
Users will ‘personalize’ the GateWay
• creating a relationship with the Institution
• creating a ‘channel’ for effective communication
• the gateway must have knowledge management
centric to it’s architecture
So: Where does the
Web fit in this?
 Increasingly the web has become the vehicle
which facilitates access
• with web services undertaking background processing
to support
 The Context in 2010
The (A5-ish) PDA
WiFI (max)
Simple interfaces
Scribble pad/voice command recognising
Getting from two
of everything
 Merger meant we had 2 of every core business
The decision to procure world-class solutions
will take several years to deliver but we are well
on the way!
Making the interim work but with a plan for the
Data Warehousing
 A data warehouse is a copy of transaction data
specifically structured for querying and
• The form of the stored data has nothing to do with
whether something is a data warehouse.
The case for Data
 Data warehousing may be implement for all or
only one of the reasons cited:
• To support server/disk bound tasks associated with
querying and reporting; i.e. not used by the
transaction processing systems
• Reports require data from multiple systems. The data
warehouse may contain archival data relevant for
historical comparison
• May be used to prevent persons who only need to
query and report from having any access whatsoever
to the actual transaction processing system.
ERP Enterprise Resource
ERP integrates key business and management processes
• ERP tracks company financials, human resources data and (if
applicable) manufacturing information
The leaders in ERP market share are SAP, PeopleSoft Inc.,
Oracle Corp., Baan Co. NV and J.D. Edwards & Co.
ERP was intended to solve the problem of integrating Best
of Breed systems as software needs to communicate
across functions.
• ERP aims to replicate business processes in software, guide
the employees responsible for those processes through them
step by step and automate as many procedures as desired.
Has ERP worked?
 Multimillion project failures and successes.
• The promise of ERP is great but so is the expense
• time, effort and money.
 Implementing usually involved changing
business processes
• Job change is notoriously difficult
• Only now do we capture best practice and implement
Requires that executives hone their change
management skills.
• With careful planning and lots of effort ERP can work
and make an enterprise more efficient.
How long will an ERP project take?
 The important thing is not to focus on how long
it will take:
• real transformational ERP efforts usually run between
one and three years, on average
• generally we are not managerial institutions so it will
take longer!
• but rather to understand why you need it and how you
will use it to improve your business.
Reasons to desire the holy
grail of ERP
 Integrated business information
• ERP creates a single truth re core data that cannot be
questioned – everyone is using the same system.
 Standardize and speed up business processes
• business units can standardize processes and using a
single, integrated computer system can save time,
increase productivity and reduce head count.
 Systems integration
• ERP should operate on a ‘single’ platform with support
issues assumed by single supplier
 Efficiency
• Business process should flow more smoothly
Is ERP achievable?
To date their hasn’t really been an ERP solution for our
business domain
Recent implementations demonstrate software systems
fail in certain key business processes.
Many institutions have attempted to procure ERP but
most have fallen back to best of breed
Mergers/acquisitions are leading to ERP solutions for
academia but not embracing online learning
The Issues
Needless to say, the move to ERP is a project of
breathtaking scope
• the price tags make the most placid FO twitchy; in addition
to budgeting for software costs, should plan on large
cheques to cover consulting, process rework, integration
testing and a long laundry list of other expenses before the
benefits of ERP start to manifest themselves.
Underestimating the price beyond the capital cost
• teaching users their new job processes; failure to consider
data warehouse integration requirements; the cost of extra
software to duplicate the old report formats.
a few oversights in the budgeting and planning stage can
send ERP costs spiralling out of control faster than
oversights in planning almost any other information system
The risks
• It is easier and cheaper to change the business process to
accommodate the software than modify the software to fit
the process.
What does ERP really cost?
Too much if you have to ask!
When will we get payback from ERP—and how much will
it be?
• Don't expect to revolutionize your business as evolution is a
slow process
What are the hidden costs of ERP?
Integration and testing
Data conversion
Data analysis
Consultants ad infinitum
Replacing (backfill) your best and brightest – they will be
needed to undertake the project
Implementation teams can never stop
Post-ERP depression
Top 10 IT Issues
Quoting from the survey
 Institutions find themselves forced to deal
with multiple portal solutions as campus
ERP and CMS projects result in the
deployment of multiple portal products.
“campuses confronted with the challenge of
portal deployment and integration should be
mindful that this product niche will continue to
Web service issues
Web services are rising to prominence because they can provide
long awaited opportunities for applications running on different
platforms, programmed in a variety of languages, and custombuilt or vendor-acquired to interoperate and satisfy
organizational processing requirements.
• How can Web services provide optimum return on existing
investments and provide enhanced scalability?
Can the institution make modular/iterative development of Web
based applications, a hallmark of Web services, sustainable and less
Although Web services and the required standards are still evolving,
what should we do now to ensure that Web services are an integral
part of future strategic plans?
What will it take to utilize a Web services approach when developing
new Web-based applications?
What are the availability and the flexibility of Web services in
institutional applications?
Hype Cycle – Web Services
from Gartner
Context of the Information
Ready and immediate access to the worlds information
Access to information provides competitive advantage
Who isn’t excited by carrying a device giving ready
access to the worlds information resources!
• Most new information is created in digital format
• The pace of digitisation of legacy information is significant
The University Campus model
 Today
The New campus
Metadata & the
Semantic Web
Metadata is not a new phenomenon.
• Metadata, by a different name, has been used for many
decades to bring order to information collection, access, and
The desire to move to the Semantic Web will not happen
by technology alone
• The semantics will have to come from human consensus and
agreement on metadata content. This is the metadata ecology.
Metadata communities will need to be nurtured through this
process to evolve and fully exploit the underlying technologies.
Reuse, adoption, and extension of existing core metadata sets
across communities is also a key enabler of the Semantic Web.
The future of Metadata is the Internet and the future of
the Internet is Metadata.
The context continued: 1
The context continued: 2
The context continued: 3
Exponential Growth in digital information/data
• Scientific and technical literature is now created in digital form
• large quantities have been converted to digital retrospectively.
• Crucial data collections in the social, biological, and physical
sciences are coming online and becoming remotely accessible
• modern genome research would be impossible without such databases
Increasingly powerful data mining techniques
• are creating greater demand for access to cross-disciplinary data
new knowledge is being discovered in problem areas never intended
at the time of the original data acquisition.
Much data is “preserved” in ad hoc and fragmented ways
• all too often ends up in “data mortuaries” rather than archives.
The Manchester Web
where is it going?
 The Branding
• Essential to drive a brand and brand values
The CMS approach
• Is it possible to have a CMS and significant devolution?
• Should a CMS be and end-to-end solution
The Web is too expensive and too ‘static’
• Must be driven from data and information systems
• Must be knowledge enabled
• Must deliver to the user expectations
Information Flows
 What is needed are fluid information flows that
support the workflows and business processes
• Yet information technology lags these enterprise
changes. Laptops, e-mail, remote access, and VPNs
fall short on many counts—providing complex and
tortuous access to some applications and some
• What is needed is an enterprise gateway—one that
provides not just smart content searches but rather a
full architecture for users to get to the information,
applications, and communications tools they need here
and now to undertake the business.
What does it facilitate?
An enterprise portal should allow users to use ‘any’ Webenabled device to tap into a virtual workspace.
• The virtual workspace should present or facilitate users with
all of the file, e-mail, calendar, and collaboration tools along
with all of the legacy, client/server, and Web-enabled
enterprise services they need.
• It should support access to these applications whether they
reside in an intranet, an extranet, on the Internet, and
whether they are hosted by the enterprise or by a service
An enterprise portal should extend easily to support the
wave of smart PDAs, cell phones, Internet phones, etc.
The principle
 The key principle is to provide infrastructure
and services which ensure that information,
applications, and communications tools are
accessible in a way that fits how an institution
and its staff/students actually work, rather than
forcing the users to adapt work habits to
technology constraints.
Time and Customer-Centricity:
Today’s Competitive Weapons
 Customer Centricity
• We must be customer-centric in every aspect of our
operations, not just at the traditional customer
• Information, applications, and communication tools
are the competitive weapons that successful
enterprises will use to squeeze time out of the
equation and to get as close as possible to each
• But these tools must be aligned with how work actually
gets done.
Who owns the web?
 The web is an enabler and must be owned
strategically by the Institution!
• It is no longer the static pages of the W.W.W.
• It must become cost-effective!
 There must be real vision to its exploitation
 Are you up for the challenge?
“If higher education is about anything, it must be about the
furtherance of knowledge and wisdom, and this requires
going beyond the limitations of what Michael Polyani (1966)
calls “explicit knowledge”—knowledge that can be readily
codified and shared with others—and venturing into the
realm of “tacit knowledge,” or knowledge that is inherently
bound to the experiences, skills, and judgment of a person.
Explicit knowledge can be organized in a database or set
forth in a document; tacit knowledge must be teased out in
the exercise of skills, problem solving, or judgments of an
associational or critical nature. Tacit knowledge is mined
through conversation, not computers; it is inherently
“messy,” requiring dialogue, observation, or storytelling to
be shared with others (Davenport & Prusak, 1998, pp. 81ff.)”.
From Course Management to Curricular Capabilities: A Capabilities Approach for the Next-Generation CMS
VAN WEIGEL Educause review May/June 2005
The success of the knowledge century will
depend not on the spread of new technologies
themselves but on the quality of the information
which is made available through them and our
ability to use it wisely.
The challenge to universities is to adapt fast
enough to exploit the opportunities of the
market so that they survive to uphold those
THES, Opinion, 22-5-98
Thank You