If your higher education institution is like most, you recognize the importance of digital transformation. But the problem is you haven’t quite achieved it yet. 3 Essential Strategies for Achieving Digital Transformation in Higher Education, although 60% report that they are pursuing digital transformation, according to a 2020 study by Educause. One of the key reasons that digital transformation is so elusive for higher education institutions is that many educational leaders are still figuring out what it means to digitally transform a higher education institution. Digital transformation is a concept from the for-profit business world. But at the same time, that doesn’t mean digital transformation isn’t equally relevant and essential for higher education to embrace.
Working Toward Digital Transformation in Higher Ed
Higher education institutions should be working toward digital transformation because it’s the key to delivering innovative, efficient, consistently high-quality campus experiences to every member of the educational community. These experiences are what the entire community deserves and is increasingly coming to expect. Let’s explore three core strategies that every higher education institution needs to adopt to achieve digital transformation for its customers:
Tease apart who your diverse customers are
Higher education institutions are made up of many more “customers” than just students and instructors. Other customers include parents, alumni, non-faculty staff, supporters, and the local community. Even among students, there are multiple profiles: prospective students, admitted students, newly enrolled students, and students at different levels. As a foundational first step to achieving digital transformation, it’s important for higher education institutions to clearly define who all of their diverse customers are—and specifically, what each of these types of customers needs and is looking for in the process of accessing services, information, and support from their institution. When educational leaders have a thorough understanding of who their customers are and what they need, the institution becomes positioned to optimally use technology to design experiences that resonate and are aligned with these customers.
Consumerize your campus services
Every member of a higher education community is accustomed to high-quality, “consumerized” experiences in the real world—for placing orders, for paying bills, for requesting help, for looking up information. Higher education shouldn’t be any different. Instead of inefficient, clunky legacy services and workflows, higher education institutions should fundamentally rethink how they deliver all campus services, ranging from tuition payments and class registration, to maintenance service requests, to medical and counseling appointments, to HR and payroll. By reimagining all of these services with modern technology, higher education institutions can offer more self-service, “consumerized” services that are more accessible, more intuitive, more reliable, and more thoroughly and logically integrated.
Centralize management of support services
On most campuses, support services are typically decentralized and highly siloed. Specialized teams are responsible for everything from groundskeeping and custodial services to technology support to building repairs. There are plumbers and electricians, painters and landscapers, locksmiths and janitors, IT help desk agents and network technicians. Each of these teams tends to have its own workflows, its own recordkeeping systems, and its own systems for assigning and managing tasks. Not only is visibility poor and efficiency low, but the outdated and siloed software that these teams use limits their ability to ever achieve improved efficiencies. By embracing modern technology, higher education institutions become well-positioned to centralize how all support services get delivered and managed. Not only do these services get delivered faster and more reliably, but the service teams themselves can count on receiving more intelligent assignments in the field—on their mobile devices—based on their unique skill sets and proximity to a location.
Catch up with ServiceNow
Higher education institutions have been slow to embrace modern, encompassing technology solutions like ServiceNow that can enable digital transformation. But that doesn’t mean they can’t catch up with the high bar set in the business world. The key strategies for higher education institutions to adopt are to tease apart who the institution’s diverse customers are and what these customers need, “consumerize” the campus experience for all customers, and centralize management of the institution’s many diverse support services.