Higher Education in 2017

We have seen a lot of focus on digital transformation initiatives in the learning technology space over the past few years

We have seen a lot of focus on digital transformation initiatives in the learning technology space over the past few years. Now we see institutions focus their attention on modernising the administrative systems that are at the heart of their operations and central to the student experience on campus.

There are a many business drivers accelerating this trend, whether it be the growth of non-traditional academic models, increased competition for students, or the need to run more efficiently given pressure of declining budgets and inability to increase tuition. Universities have under-invested in backbone technology, the systems in use in the U.K. were typically designed over 20 years ago, but there are technologies available to help the sector leapfrog other industries and once again be a beacon for innovation.

In 2017 and beyond Higher Education has the potential for greater digital advancement than any other industry. Below we outline five key trends we believe will help institutions meet their strategic objectives in 2017.

 Predictive analytics as a key component to improve student success and retention

Predictive analytics can help institutions determine which students are most at risk of dropping out and support retention strategies to help students complete their studies. From an operational perspective it also has the ability to improve efficiency and identify growth opportunities.

Enterprise applications like ERP and SIS will increasingly be infused with AI capabilities

We’re beginning to see the emergence of enterprise applications that incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities. New virtual digital assistants have the potential to transform the higher education workspace. There are a multitude of ways bots can help to streamline the process, from applying to college, to arriving on campus, signing up to courses and eventually graduation. Through a Natural Language Interface (NLI), or a more streamlined approach where a bot works behind the scenes delivering information through the students preferred NLI, such as Siri, Cortana, or Alexa, digital assistants will begin to simplify university administration for students. The use of this technology do not stop there. Imagine University staff having the ability to leverage digital assistants to automate much of their manual administration so they can free up time for more high value tasks, such as promoting student success and helping institutions achieve strategic goals.

 Student lifecycle CRM

In education, CRM has traditionally been used just for admissions, alumni and fundraising. However, given the financial investment they are making, students now demand a higher level of service while at university. What we’re starting to see is increased interest in supporting all phases of the student lifecycle, including registration, academic support, student finances and continuing education for lifelong learning. This would provide institutions with a 360-degree view of students to provide personalised services and ultimately an improved experience. This trend reflects the move trend from institution-centric to a student-centric model. In 2017, informed by analytics and predictive tools, institutions will be able to tie CRM-like workflows to non-traditional students.

Embedded support of non-traditional programs

A key growth component for almost all institutions is the need to cater to non-traditional learners, be they part-time, continuing education, competency-based, online/distance learning, or training as part of workforce development. Legacy Student Information Systems (SIS) solutions struggle to manage these types of learners, and institutions have been forced to use application add-ons to try and solve this. Going forward this capability will be baked into the core SIS, 2017 will be the start of the end of non-traditional program add-ons.

 Mobility is not just for students anymore

In the past the primary focus for enterprise applications, primarily SISs, has been on creating a mobile experience for students. That’s all good, but admin users of ERPs and SISs want mobility too, with a consumer-grade experience and mobile-friendly access to perform work on-the-go. Today’s SISs must be truly mobile-first to meet the needs of institutions in 2017 and beyond.

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