Core competencies are the things we're best at, as individuals or as organizations, that in turn provide value to ourselves and others. The book Good to Great talks in part about how companies build core competencies, first by deciding what they want to be best at doing.
I'd bet that no higher education administrator's wish list of core competencies includes running email, IT infrastructure, or telephones (even VoIP phones). All these are now commodities; they don't distinguish the institution. They just have to exist.
At the same time, IT services can help every staff member be more efficient. Universities have provided hand-held computers to janitorial staff so they can have up-to-date lists of work orders. Payroll departments want electronic W2's, which free them from mass mailings. As administrators continue to push for efficiency gains they will have more and more to ask from IT.
However, IT departments do not need to offer all these services themselves. IT should be the broker that ensures electronic W2's are available and that hand-held devices are compatible with the work order system. IT needs to move from being a builder of things to an integrator of things, at least for commodity services.
Any time IT spends on building things should be in furtherance of the institution's core competencies.
Manager and Founder