Institution-Wide Information Strategies (IWIS)
Symposium & Project Conference
IWIS Conference Reports
CNI hosted an invitational conference in Washington, DC, July 21 and 22 which brought together the nine institutions participating in the Coalition’s Institution-Wide Information Strategies (IWIS) initiative. The goal of the IWIS initiative is to identify and promote best practices in information strategies. Accordingly, the goal of the project conference was to help participants start preparing case study reports to make their best practices in information strategy available to a wider audience. Case study reports will be developed over the coming months, and some of these institutions will be presenting project briefings at the CNI Task Force Meeting, October 26 and 27 in Minneapolis.
On the second day of the meeting, attendees enjoyed a frank, yet lively discussion by University of Memphis President V. Lane Rawlins regarding the executive perspective of managing information systems. “We are in the midst of a revolution in the way we manage, assemble and use information,” said Rawlins. “You have to be very specific determining what your going to do and how much its going to cost. You must explain the long-term benefits and alternatives — be aware that your managing culture changes.” Rawlins used the analogy of the interstate highway system to explain the importance of recognizing unforeseen cultural changes brought about by information systems. He explained that when the highway plan originated, individuals believed that highways would get them to their final destinations quicker. Such unforeseen consequences as people moving further away from cities into suburbs, however, were not conceived as a result of the highway system.
During the conference participating institutions presented briefings on their own information strategy initiatives, and offered each other comments and advice in response to the presentations. “I found the diversity at the meeting beyond what I expected, yet there was still commonality across all of our institutions,” said Jim Penrod, Vice-President for Information System and CIO at the University of Memphis. Sandy Colombo, Product Area Manager at the University of Michigan echoed Penrod’s stating, observing, “The meeting was just small enough to have fairly immediate and important discussions, but still there was wide geographical diversity.” Karin Steinbrenner of Villanova University added, “This is the best conference I’ve ever been to. You got a chance to really look at a single subject from different angles and this is the essence of what we’re all about.”
The institutions in attendance included:
- California State University
- Indiana University
- Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC)
- Lehigh University
- Mount Holyoke College
- University of California-Davis
- The University of Memphis
- University of Michigan, and
- U-M Digital Library
- UMIE Project
- U-M Research Environment
- Villanova University
Representing the JISC information strategies initiative were delegates from Bath College of Higher Education, Queen’s University, Belfast, and University of North London. Michael Zastrocky of Gartner Group helped CNI plan the conference and develop the case study format.