Twelfth Annual UCLA Survey of
Business School Computing Usage:
Services and Budgets
1995

Abstract

The Twelfth UCLA Anderson School Survey of Business School Computer Usage addresses the financial and service aspects of the computerization effort. Data from 240 business schools from 11 countries is presented by quartile based on computer operating dollar per student. Schools in the first quartile are spending substantially more on average ($1,153,000) while those in the fourth quartiles are spending considerably less on average ($99,600). These expenditure differences are reflected in both the nature and quantity of the hardware resources and also in the level of staff support. The report presents detailed demographic and hardware data, operating and capital budget information, and details on staff allocations for services. It provides benchmarks for capital and operating budget distributions and staff allocations by service.

Executive Summary

This Twelfth UCLA Survey of Business School Computer Usage addresses the financial and service aspects of the computerization effort. A sample of 240 business schools from eleven countries returned the questionnaire which requested demographic and hardware data, operating and capital budget information, and details on staff allocations for services. Overall, the individuals responding indicated a high degree of confidence (over 70%) in the budget numbers which they reported. This suggests that those reporting budget numbers know what they are spending or plan to spend. Even so, interpreting the data demands caution given the diversity of the population combined with the self selectivity of schools willing to share financial data. Given these caveats, some of the highlights of the survey are presented here in the Executive Summary with supporting details in the body of the report.

To aid in understanding the data, the schools were separated into quartiles based on computer operating dollar per student. This approach allows a more in depth understanding of the various computerization efforts schools are willing and/or able to undertake.

Business School Computing Budgets

The schools are striving to achieve a balance of physical infrastructure (hardware, networks, and facilities) and staff support (the professionals who enable others to gain greater value from the physical infrastructure). On average, for the 212 schools providing data, approximately $477,600 is spent in support of the computing effort (Table 3). Schools in the first quartile are spending substantially more on average ($1,153,000) while those in the fourth quartiles are spending considerably less on average ($99,600). These expenditure differences are reflected in both the nature and quantity of the hardware resources and also in the level of staff support. The first quartiles schools support a larger and more diverse staff than the other quartile schools, offer a broader scope of services provided by full-time professionals rather than part-time students, and have more equipment per user.

For the schools in the first three quartiles, the total computer budget is allocated roughly 40% to capital and 60% to operational expenditures. However, for the fourth quartile the situation is reversed, with approximately 70% allocated to capital and 30% to operational expenditures. These allocation patterns, combined with the capital budget allocations to computers, networks, and facilities, suggest that schools in the first three quartiles are further along the computerization process than schools in the fourth quartile. Essentially, the survey data suggest that capital requirements diminish as microcomputers become ubiquitous and the facilities have been remodeled and networked. These "one time" charges are then replaced by the on-going operating expenses which can become very significant. Specifically, for budget planning purposes, the data from the first three quartiles suggests that for every dollar allocated for capital purchases, one and one half to two dollars per year should be allocated for on-going operating expenses.

The survey data shows that schools were still spending at about same rate for microcomputers as five years ago (Table 4), even though prices for these systems have fallen. Two factors probably explain this observation. First, the early adopters of the technology may now be upgrading and moving to the more powerful chip sets, spurring another entire round of purchases. Schools should anticipate this reoccurring every couple of years and begin a capital accumulation (reserve) to cover it. Second, more people want or need access to the technology, yet the "trickle down" of microcomputers doesn't work in all cases as software incompatibilities make it difficult, if not impossible to run new software on old computers. Hence additional new systems must be purchased. Surprisingly, the expected emphasis on capital investment in communication and networking systems did not appear. However, because the networks can be added incrementally, much of this cost may be being absorbed as operating expenses.

The operating budget data (Table 3) indicate that staff salaries and benefits consume the largest part of the budget, averaging nearly 60% for most schools. The big differences across the schools is that first quartile schools have larger, full-time professional staff rather than relying on part-time student employees. The benefits accrued can be subtle, yet profound. Providing full-time staff means that experience and learning curves can be maximized by people whose "real world" is in fact the business school environment. They are able to develop long term relationships and become involved in projects which extend across semesters. Student employees, while generally very capable to contribute in the short term, tend to be less involved in systematic problem solving where so much of the benefit of computerization evolves. There is no history, no continuity, and no opportunity for expansion of a given set of ideas. For example, in building course support materials, a faculty member may want a database of corporate information. This type of project is on-going, requiring updates and maintenance. Student assistant changes with each graduating class require the professor to expend considerable energy to fairly routine, but time consuming tasks.

Business School Computing Services

The data in this year's survey indicated that schools are continuing to add staff (Figure 6) as the demand for services increases and as "end-user computing" becomes the standard. As individual users are required to deal with the complexity of microcomputer operations (not only having to interact with the operating system and the network, but also file management and backup/recovery problems), the need for local support staff has increased. This need is intensified as a greater number of people (faculty, student, and staff) within each school are expected to perform a wide variety of word-processing, database, and spreadsheet tasks. When mainframes were the only computing resource, the user community was self selected and able to rely upon a technically oriented central staff for most situations. Today, with everyone expected to use the computer systems irrespective of personal background, interest, or orientation, more direct and immediate support, both technical and user-oriented, is essential.

As a measure of staff resources, the Annual Surveys have reported a student per computing staff ratio (Figure 6). In 1985 this average ratio was 418 students per staff (for a sample of only 92 schools) while in 1995 this ratio is 302 (for a sample of 171 schools). The average staff at a school in this year's sample is 7.3 FTE (Table 11). How are these staff deployed? Ninety-four percent of the schools indicated that they provide consulting to individual users while 89% indicated they provide microcomputer trouble shooting and maintenance support. These two services account for about 50% of the entire FTE allocations at the schools. Additionally, 88% of the business schools have computing staff to provide network support services and 75% have their own trainers, yet another component of the end-user computing environment. All the other services provided, with the exception of the video display, could easily be considered part of the more "traditional" central mainframe service orientation. Business school personnel supporting faculty display of computer output in the classroom , currently available at 58% of the schools, is a new type of services and a direct result of the growing use of computers throughout the curriculum.

Business School Microcomputers

The survey data show that the disparity between schools in terms of number of computers available for students (Figure 2) and faculty (Figure 3) has greatly improved over the past several years. For faculty, the differences across schools has essentially disappeared with the ratios now roughly one computer per faculty member. For students, first quartile schools have been stable at about one computer for every ten students for the past several years. Improvements have continued to occur at the fourth quartile schools, moving from 48 to 37 students sharing a microcomputer in the past two years.

But what of the impact of student ownership and the use of laptop computers? About 25% of the undergraduate programs indicate that microcomputer ownership was recommended and only one percent required ownership (Figure 4). At the MBA level this was 37% and 4%, respectively. Fifty percent of the schools with EMBA programs recommend that their students own a microcomputer, while 25% require ownership. These ownership recommendations and requirements reduce the need for the schools to provide extensive computer labs, and in essence, shifts a large portion of the capital microcomputer budget responsibility to the student.

Microcomputer operating system are firmly Intel/Windows based (Tables 5 and 6). As the newer software products which can only be run on more powerful chip sets enter the market, the older 8088 and 286 systems are being replaced by newer technology, dominantly 486, Pentium, and PowerPC based systems.

Within the business school survey samples over the past twelve years, Apple systems gained market share from the Second through the Tenth surveys going from five to sixteen percent. However, during these past two years Apple has slipped back to 12% (Table 5). This may reflect the development of software compatibility across platforms and thus the loss of the unique advantage of the Macintosh line.

All of first quartile schools have Windows based systems and 79% reported having Apple systems as well (Table 6). These multivendor environments are not as prevalent in the third and fourth quartile schools, with the extreme being the 4th quartile where 91% of the schools have Windows and only 45% have Apple systems. Furthermore, the fourth quartile schools have the greatest proportion of Windows systems which suggests that they were able to initially purchase the newer systems and are not burdened by older, more obsolete inventory.

Open Issues and Concerns

The single most serious concern highlighted by this year's survey is the continuing resource gap between schools. The power of information and communication technologies need to be used to fight "mental poverty" and to assure that large portions of our society are not disenfranchised. We need to guard against the creation of a cognitive elite, of an informationally mobile class which enjoys the benefits, both material and intellectual, of the 21st century while leaving a vast majority of the society behind. We need to make these technological opportunities available to everyone everywhere so that they can participate in the highly competitive digitally based business environment of the 21st century.

A major issue is who is going to pay for all this. Today's political atmosphere of "pay as you go" may be in conflict with the goal for universal access. If as a society we elect to engage in only doing things which are commercially viable, we may create serious long term problems in terms of not having a work force capable of using and maintaining the infrastructure and the quality of life for which we are accustomed.

In May, 1995, the authors orchestrated a three day AACSB Strategic Planning for New Technology Workshop at Wake Forest University. School teams consisted of deans, faculty members, and computer staff. In summarizing what was heard as the deans and faculty discussed their goals and concerns, three words came to characterize the workshop: opportunity, optimism, and openness. The participants saw that the various technological options all provide enormous opportunities to enrich our schools and our learning environments. There was a general optimism that we could do more with the various resources at hand, and furthermore, through planning, better use of these resources would lead to new learning opportunities for our students. There was the general feeling that with a plan in hand, new resources would emerge through partnerships with industry. Finally, there was a sense that given the problem complexities, a spirited open exchange of ideas and sharing of expertise would benefit all our schools as we move toward the 21st century.

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