Higher Education (HE) entities are complex organizations to run and implement changes. Because of the consensus-driven culture, HE leaders frequently balance multiple stakeholders' interests while working within budget constraints.
With Digital Transformation permeating every sector and organization, Higher Education institutions are challenged to ditch inefficient practices and embrace new technologies. HE leaders recognize that digital technology adoption is critical to transforming their operational processes and business models while meeting their multiple audiences' demands.
Despite the government's increasing investment in education and training, only 3.6% of capital is allocated to Digital Transformation, often failing to meet the objectives of long-term technological modernization.
So what are the common challenges in Higher Education technology strategy, and what can organizations do to address them?
1. Aligning Your HE Technology Strategy With a Single Audience
Too many educational institutions think that Digital Transformation is about leveling up the student experience. This may involve anything from bringing in modern learning platforms to digital assessments and new ways of tracking student progress. In reality, Higher Education institutions work with many audiences, from academic staff to administrators, board members, and third-party service providers.
Faculties and operational teams are critical to making the newly transformed business model work; thus, enabling them with the right technology and tools allows them to support the overall student experience. By redefining who benefits from Digital Transformation, you can construct an effective ecosystem that connects all stakeholders and processes, enabling improved collaboration and communication.
2. Addressing an Isolated Technology Challenge With One Solution
Another shared trait of unsuccessful Digital Transformations is focusing on a single technology issue and implementing one solution to fix it. Many universities and colleagues build proprietary apps to offer instantaneous services such as access to the on-the-go timetable or push-up notifications reminding about payments of tuition fees.
However, having new software or SaaS does not automatically fix your knowledge management and governance issues. On the contrary, it can worsen the situation, especially if faculties are left to their own devices to create native software that does not necessarily integrate with other tools and has no significant value to the end user.
These silos can directly affect the student experience. Here's what a Barnard student commented on the College Pulse Survey, Tech Perspective, from 2022: "Some technology only works well on one browser or is scattered across different websites. I should need Firefox or internet explorer to view my transcript. Also, I want all my info on one website. Snowbird, Vergil, SSOL, StarReZ housing portal, etc. One site, or even better, ONE APP! Yeah, a working app would be fantastic".
For this reason, it is critically important to take a coherent approach and build a solution that merges data sources and existing and new systems into a centralized platform, enabling holistic and accurate information dissemination and collaboration.
3. Little Consideration for the Complete User Journey
Bringing out new services to provide value and improve student experience is what many HE providers do. Yet, according to Forbes, such efforts often resemble several uncoordinated initiatives that fail to account for the end-to-end user journey.
For instance, numerous High Ed institutions embark on offering self-service to their student body, allowing them to check the status of tuition payments, manage their schedules, or view transcripts. However, new services are often introduced without thinking about the complete user journey, creating a disjointed experience or causing confusion and frustration.
No single technology manages the complete customer journey. It is, therefore, crucial to map out the entire process and customer journey to meet service expectations from the start and empower students through designed, rich digital experiences.
4. Inadequate Planning
Digital Transformation does not happen overnight. When it comes to communication and collaboration for Higher Ed institutions, you need to think in cycles (each year) and long term. Create a technology roadmap and decide what solutions you will implement first and what steps you will take once you have achieved some measurable results.
Becoming adept in Digital Transformation requires Higher Ed leaders to leverage short-term gains and think about long-term technology strategy. Consider the following questions:
- How will your new solution help with rebranding efforts?
- Do you have the resources and capacity to maintain it?
- How will such solutions help you with a new course offering or a grad school?
Solving both present and future needs is critical for success.
5. Underestimating Your Own Technological Needs
A pragmatic relationship with technology in Higher Ed establishments can be a silent killer. With students fully embracing technology, educators must be prepared to meet the expectation for modern, Mobile-First, omnichannel solutions that remove obstacles in student learning.
Institutions winning in this game constantly invest in their employees' tech skills and reassess their existing technological capabilities to remain relevant, connected, and attractive.
Transform Your HE Institution With the Right Approach
Do not take radical steps in your HE Digital Transformation. Instead, focus on implementing agile HE Digital Transformation solutions to help you achieve incremental gains and long-term success.
Base22 can assist you in meeting the ever-increasing expectations of students and equipping lecturers and support staff with the right technology. As a digital consulting firm, we have helped global organizations to transform and improve their digital experiences while targeting growth.
Reach out to us now, and let's create and implement a winning technology strategy for your Higher Ed institution.