Higher Education’s Data-Driven Digital Transformation Focuses on Student Experience

Higher education is in the process of being disrupted. Colleges and universities, both private and public institutions, are facing a decline in student enrollment, revenue shortfalls, and decreases in State funding. At the same time, the business models and assumptions of how to operate and scale these schools for a modern student body are all being questioned. The catalysts for many of these transformations include:

  • Effectively supporting cultural shifts in the student demographics. These include how to best support a host of non-traditional students that may include those who are over the age of 25, are the first in their families to attend college, are going to school while also maintaining a full time job, are veterans, and those responsibilities for dependent children or sibling while attending school.
  • Revenue and profitability pressures. In an increasingly competitive higher education market, colleges and universities must look for ways to improve efficiencies and reduce costs in the face of declining enrollment, while also looking for additional revenue channels such as brand licensing, alumni engagement and other tactics.
  • Improving student and alumni engagement. The success of any higher education institution is dependent on their ability to nurture the entire student journey, starting from recruitment – ensuring they are attracting the best students – to managing their learning journey to ensure student retention through graduation – and even post-graduate studies. And then evolving into an alumni relationship, accelerating fundraising and building robust career networks for students and alumni.
  • An eye towards personalized learning. Most students today are digital-natives, who not only prefer, but expect a personalized, highly interactive digital education experience – and will seek out universities that offer the most flexibility and versatility when it comes to customizing their experience.

To deliver on any of these objectives, the leading universities in the US and around the globe have recognized that strategically managing their data is the foundation for the insights and processes required for them to lead these changes, create better student and alumni experiences, and distinguish themselves from their competition.

How top universities are tacking their top Data-centric problems/priorities:

Higher education is drowning in dirty data. With today’s explosive growth of data and the desire to consume and process it for making better decisions, institutions must have a systematic approach to collecting, managing and cleansing this data. Without such an approach, universities are severely impacted by ad-hoc, slow and costly projects that don’t scale, don’t follow standards and waste development time, over and over again.

To mitigate this, institutions are investing in solutions to access and integrate data from any business system, in any format, and deliver that data throughout the university as quickly as users demand. As with many other industries, higher ed has also embraced cloud as the most economical, agile and scalable way to deliver new capabilities without the costly resources and budget required to manage an on-premises data center.

Modern iPaaS (integration platform as a service) solutions in particular have been widely adopted at the University level as it enables broad support for their cloud data management and integration requirements with a fast time to value. For example, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was able to automate integrations across schools in its system and reduce its development time up to 50-60%, enabling them to deploy new web services into production approximately 4x faster.

But while many universities have adopted a cloud-first mandate, that doesn’t mean they don’t have business critical, legacy on-premises systems to contend with as well. Take Rutgers University – established in 1766 it’s the eight oldest higher education institution in the US. With that history comes legacy infrastructure, and Rutgers needed to integrate data from its newer Salesforce application with data from its legacy mainframe systems and Oracle databases. Their iPaaS solution supported all of their hybrid data integration requirements, allowing Rutgers to modernize its educational approaches by unifying its admissions, enrollment and alumni data to more effectively attract and retain students and better engage alumni.

We’re proud to have so many higher education customers who leverage intelligent data management and insights to lead the transformations of their institutions to support the next generation and beyond.

To learn more about how we can help your organization achieve similar results, check us out! And if you’ll be at the EDUCAUSE annual conference in Chicago please visit us on October 15th at Booth #1756!