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Higher education technology predictions for 2019 (part 2)

Posted by  Austin Laird

In a rapidly changing landscape, digital technologies can help ensure student success, institutional effectiveness and growth. In the second article in our two-part series we look ahead to the SIS market in 2019 and forecast how the new generation of solutions could affect talent, data and compliance for the next generation of institutions.

In the first article in this two-part series, we looked at the higher education technology trends driven mainly by the Everything as a Service (XaaS) digital economy. We gave our first five predictions for 2019, introducing the capabilities of new-generation student information system (SIS) suites and spelling out how they enable new business models in a commercial HE landscape.

We looked at how you will be able to serve students as customers, how the student experience will get an upgrade and how modern technologies help you boost student success. In this second and final part we look at the next five predictions for the coming 12 months.

6. Tech will play a bigger part in supporting talent

To bridge the funding-cost gap more higher education institutions are shedding administration staff and considering shared services, collaborations and mergers. This year, modern SISs will allow them to do this while maintaining effectiveness. Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, rulesets, document templates and interaction plans enable automation, self-serve configurability and management by exception, which all frees up users’ time.

A common user interface across all processes within a single system (from admissions to academics and billing to communications, for example) speeds up all manual processes and makes it a pleasant, consumer-grade experience for staff; one which matches what they have outside of work.

All this will help you attract, retain and support staff and create space for them. It will enable your employees to focus on the value-added, creative work which machines cannot do, while the machines get on with the repetitive, laborious tasks — human and machine in perfect harmony.

Examples that we will see more of this year include using natural language through a digital assistant (like Wanda) or via mobile apps, rather than filling in forms or entering information manually, whether that’s in the lecture theatre or the back office.

7. Data clarity through analytics and reporting

A single, cloud-based solution for higher education institutions eliminates expensive, disparate systems and laborious admin (which takes up one third of our day). Using a dated, inflexible SIS is expensive to maintain and upgrade, it’s error-prone and doesn’t deliver instant visibility over data, which has led to many chief business officers admitting they don’t have sufficient data to make informed strategic and financial decisions. This year we’ll see more adoption of integrated systems to rectify this.

Through a single, integrated cloud SIS your institution could gain a global view over key data at a glance in real time through user-friendly dashboards. With the right system, that data will be actionable — you should be able to drill down and start communication and rulesets — and reports will be produced in multiple formats. With no specialist training, the low-no-code environment within today’s systems mean that non-tech-savvy staff can customize dashboards to include any combination of data to show what they need to see.

Integrated, AI-powered corporate performance management (CPM) and business intelligence (BI) solutions (which allow your finance department to analyze, predict and improve performance) will help your institution develop a better-informed strategy. For example, to help set prices, the head of school or program administrator can use in-built analytics and reporting tools to list all related course costs and determine how many students the program can accept without having to increase the cost.

In 2019, institutions will put greater focus on providing individual users with a more relevant view of information, depending on their role, for faster and better-informed decisions. Additionally, a more institution-wide dashboard view will uncover trends and challenges, so action can be taken to improve operational efficiency. 

8. Improved data governance, accountability and compliance

GDPR and the global data privacy governance legislation has improved a lot more than just how we manage data. That’s because systems needed to attain tough data governance to help overcome other challenges in the sector. For example, there’s increasing pressure from third parties such as research funders to illustrate accountability and transparency.

Reporting capabilities, whether built into the core system or integrated through third party solutions via common application programming interfaces (APIs), will provide the key to improving accountability and transparency this year.

Modern systems offer built-in best-practice processes to simplify increasingly complex data governance and provide ‘out-of-the-box’ industry management reporting. Standard and ad hoc reporting features also help institutions stay compliant with regulations.

9. More reviews of digital strategies

The overwhelming evidence shows today’s non-traditional students think higher education institutions should review and upgrade their digital strategy for administration and communications. The majority say they would be more satisfied if their institution had a single, digital system to manage all admin and a single app to access services from any device.

In response to this, we will see more technology strategy reviews this year. Customers have called time on the legacy HE systems which are no longer fit for purpose — they’re poorly designed, out of date and disconnected. Collectively, they are weak, inflexible and error-prone, and, while implemented with good intentions, they create a barrier to student and staff progression. This situation is costing higher education institutions time and money, KPIs are in decline and reputations are suffering.

10. The SIS market will get a shot in the arm

As a result of all the advances in HE technology predicted for 2019, more higher education institutions will bite the bullet and invest in digitally integrated systems. Following a “plummeting” number of implementations in recent years (2011-2018), we’ll finally see some growth in the market over the coming 12 months. As one Gartner analyst says, higher education institutions are hungry to move forward with their SIS buying decisions; they’ve been waiting for systems to be fully baked. This will be the year when capabilities are showcased and hunger pangs are satisfied.

New game, new rules

Today’s SISs are integrated solution suites which manage your institution’s back and front office. The right system delivers a consumer-grade digital experience across the entire academic lifecycle while providing your staff with valuable insight into student performance and analytics.

With it, you can streamline and automate the entire student lifecycle from outreach to alumni, remain agile and future-proofed, enabling you to accelerate growth, be more efficient, deliver better research outcomes and boost student success.

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Austin Laird

Product Director Higher Education