The World is Flat describes how IBM’s Business Consulting Services provides companies with corporate x-rays:

“What IBM does is basically x-ray your company and break down every component of your business and put it up on a wall-size screen so you can study your corporate skeleton. Every department, every function, is broken out and put in a box and identified as to whether it is a cost for the company or a source of income, or a little of both, and whether it is a unique core competency of the company or some vanilla that anyone else could do – possibly cheaper and better.”

Soon higher educational institutions will follow a similar path and break down their services to the component level to determine the value-added for each function. I personally feel anything not directly related to higher education’s core competency, the actual teaching and research, can potentially be outsourced.

One of the first recommendations to survive and thrive in this era of globalisation is to think of your department as a small, independent company hired by your college or university. Approach the management of the web department like you own it and you need to keep it viable. Take a moment to think about how much your institution spends on your operation. By the time you include salaries and benefits, part time staff, computer hardware and software, printers and copiers, telephones, data connections, office space, office supplies, heating, air conditioning, and parking the cost can be substantial. Can you justify these costs?

The good news for most of us is the answer is yes. I know of few if any web departments that are over-funded. ( I know many that spend time and effort on the wrong things which will be the subject of tomorrow’s post.) The strategic importance of the web in higher education continues to grow. The web provides many advantages over other communications channels and service options including greater efficiencies, quicker publishing cycles, wider availability, improved services and ultimately a high return on investment. The arrival of the millennial generation on campus will only increase the importance of the web because the web is the hub for all their activities.