Higher Education, success, & technology.
Why it's so important to choose the right technology partner for your organisation.
Behind every successful higher education organisation, is a great technology partner. And when it comes to aligning yourself with the right partner, we say: “choose well.”
We know there’s an increasing expectation on higher education providers to improve administrative and academic service delivery. You may well be feeling the pressure of being ‘under the microscope’ right now. You know you have to be efficient and produce the best results. And as student tuition fees go up, both stakeholders and the public are demanding greater accountability.
Most higher education providers bring in specialist technology to manage costs and improve outcomes. Of course, this results in massive volumes of new data – which then needs massaging into shape for presentation as proof of both accountability and performance. Naturally, having the tools and ability to transform that data into valuable insights is essential.
This is where having a great technology partner comes into it. While business acumen and experience are essential, having a partner with a real-world understanding of the complexities of higher education, experience of perfecting organisational compliance, and a deep appreciation of the factors involved in educational advancement, is crucial to your success.
How the world does business and communicates has changed dramatically in recent years, resulting in jobs - and entire industries - unimaginable just a decade ago. Take new roles such as social media manager, data scientist and app developer, for example. Advances in the next few years will see even the most sophisticated educators stretching to prepare students for this brave (and exciting) new world.
Keeping up with technological change and industry demands requires the ability to adapt quickly. Educators whose technology systems continue to focus on delivering lectures and exams are finding themselves falling behind in the drive to help students become effective and successful employees.
Collaborating with industry partners means educators benefit from the most effective technology as it becomes available, and can transform their curriculum development.
“Preparing students for the real-world means adopting a more flexible, practical and applied approach to education. So, your technology must be able to change, integrate and grow.”
There’s no place for system rigidity or information silos. And a technology partner who doesn’t share or support your vision will be more of a hindrance than a help.
Students need and expect the most technologically enhanced experiences from their higher education.
Self-service is now a common, everyday experience for all of us. So new students are likely to expect 24/7 access to basic administrative transactions, an automated and trackable admissions process, personalised financial information and manageable student accounts, and so on.
Educators also need to provide easy access to rich content, online lectures, real-time tutoring and technology-enabled learning analytics in ways that transform higher education in a fundamental manner.
And then there’s your own need as an education provider to monitor student performance seamlessly, providing help and support on an individual basis.
Delivering true student engagement means educators following right on the tail of the business world, and embracing new technologies in analytics, cloud computing, mobility and social media. Your technology partner needs to provide leadership and insight in these areas, and to have a deep understanding of the higher education sector.
When your technology partner puts your people – students, administrators and faculty – before your processes, your organisation will stand out from the crowd.
Choosing well is based on finding a technology partner who demonstrates, with authority, a few key qualities. These are more like the ‘soft skills’ you look for when interviewing a potential new employee – the competencies that go beyond their ability to ‘do’ the job, and highlight the potential for them to be a great asset to the organisation overall.
A genuinely supportive technology partner provides more than ‘customer service’. They will assure you that ‘together, we will not fail’, then provide examples of how they will do this, as well as information on when they went above and beyond to ensure client success.
It’s easy to get swept up by the marketing promises and the sales pitch, then find that expectations are dashed during delivery. Ensuring your technology partner will allow you access to all members of your project team provides you with ‘from the horse’s mouth’ information when you need it. You will be assured of open and honest communication on project progress – a good partner will alert you if something is off track, explain why, and detail how they will get things back on course.
A good technology partner will have deep insights into your particular industry, vertical or discipline, based on their experience. A great partner takes those insights and pioneers new ways of doing things that show they understand ‘what’s next’ for your industry. It also shows you their clients trust them – when a customer has faith in their technology partner, they are happy to test new things and push the limits.
A technology partner with a strong strategic vision for their own success, culture and growth is a partner who can help you grow and succeed also. Partnering with an outsourced supplier brings not only technology benefits, but also an added layer of experience and thinking, bred of years working with your peers and competitors. A technology partner with a well-thought-out plan for how to stay relevant, competitive and successful in a rapidly changing landscape is an important consideration when you’re considering who to bring into your team.
A wide range of people in your team will need to interact with your technology partner, so feeling comfortable that everyone from the CEO to the Consultant to the Service Delivery Manager has great people skills – clear communication, empathy, and good listening skills – is crucial in forming a winning partnership.
In summary – technology will enable you to achieve many things, but ensuring you have the right technology partner onboard will set you on a course of evolutionary success.