Innovation in College & Career Preparation

A New Kind of Dialogue on Education Solutions

John O'Brien, President and CEO, EDUCAUSEBy John O’Brien, President and CEO, EDUCAUSE

In the first community poll we conducted shortly after I joined EDUCAUSE a year ago, I heard clearly from our corporate members that they crave more engagement and meaningful conversations with institutions. On the one hand, who would argue with that goal? On the other hand, if more engagement/conversation translates to more cold calls or unsolicited emails, arguments would abound.

So it’s a balancing act to find exactly what authentic, mutually beneficial engagement between corporate and campus members looks like. But I think it’s essential to try to find that right balance, because we are clearly interdependent in many crucial ways.

Educause Annual ConferenceThat’s why I’m excited about a new offering at EDUCAUSE 2016, the Pitch IT! Challenge, sponsored by USA Funds®. We’re giving our institutional members a chance to flip the tables on the typical industry sales call. Institutional leaders get to present a significant need they feel is not met by products or services currently available in the marketplace, while industry members will be listening intently, potentially ready to step forward and partner with an institution to develop a solution. Think of it as a reverse pitch; instead of a company pitching its latest product, institutions will be shining a spotlight on the solutions they are convinced they truly need.

Pitch It ChallengeI know we use the word “partner” with abandon these days, but I’ve been around long enough to remember when “buying a product” was not called “partnering.” So I particularly love the fact that the Pitch IT! Challenge articulates both new partnership possibilities and new dialogue between EDUCAUSE institutional and corporate members.

We’ll be sharing the progress of the partnerships that are sparked by the challenge in EDUCAUSE publications, forums and communication vehicles, so the whole community can benefit. If you’re interested in participating in the Pitch IT! Challenge, you have until Aug. 31 to apply.

Originally published in EDUCAUSE Review, July 18, 2016. EDUCAUSE is a nonprofit association and the foremost community of IT leaders and professionals committed to advancing higher education.

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