The COVID-19 pandemic changed how colleges and universities operate, fast-tracking digital transformation with the adoption of online tools and interactive platforms designed to deliver education to learners anywhere at any time. As a result, technology has become even more engrained in the higher education environment, increasing the stakes when it comes to IT investments.
Like other industries, higher education responded to the pandemic with significant spending on emerging technologies. The global EdTech market is projected to reach $207.3 billion by 2026, with spending in the United States accounting for $43.5 billion of that total.
But as McKinsey’s research on higher education technology uncovered, institutions aren’t getting the most out of their technology investments. Colleges and universities need to do more to maximize their use of new solutions and support modernization.
Here are five steps higher education institutions can take to maximize the value of their technology investments.
1. Invest in a Single Solution
Having an integrated system that brings together academic, financial, and HCM functions is a great way to maximize IT investments, as doing so will unify campus operations. Even better, institutions with pre-integrated systems from a single vendor will further minimize the presence of silos and improve how staff across campus connect, share information, and engage with students.
A single-vendor approach can enable seamless operations and make system-to-system integrations more efficient, all while eliminating the costly and time-consuming job of dealing with multiple maintenance contracts. With a single-vendor solution, institutions will likely get the most out of their IT investments—as long as they partner with the right vendor.
2. Move to the Cloud
Given the growing demand for hybrid learning environments, moving to the cloud makes sense. With cloud-based systems, institutions can make systems and applications more accessible, scalable, and cost-efficient, as hosted environments can enable anytime/anywhere remote access and can promote collaboration and information sharing. The cloud also introduces the opportunity to reduce operating expenses while lessening the load on IT departments and supporting a range of modern, built-in security tools.
Schools can take small steps toward the cloud—starting with something like Microsoft 365, for example—but a fully hosted environment enables enhanced flexibility and agility so institutions can scale with demand and deliver fast, responsive services to students, faculty, and staff.
3. Leverage Partnerships
One of the best ways to maximize IT investments is done through establishing a strong partnership with a solution provider. In doing so, institutions can ensure they are making the best use of their partner’s tools and services. An experienced provider will also know how to implement their own solutions, which can reduce implementation costs and timeframes.
It’s also important to build relationships between service providers and technology users on campus. Institutions should have their solution provider train staff and educate them on best practices, pitfalls to avoid, and how to maximize the use of the technology on hand.
4. Find the Right-Sized Tech Stack
Maximizing IT investments will come down to determining what is needed, what is nice to have, and what can be leveraged down the road. Institutions should avoid extraneous costs, shadow IT expenditures, expensive customizations that can be even more costly to support, and redundant systems. If institutions must add software or services, they should use an integration platform to ensure system-to-system compatibility.
5. Elevate IT’s Role
Given the essential role of technology in today’s educational environments, CIOs and CTOs need to be in a position of leadership within their institution’s hierarchy. They should have real influence on technology investments and strategy if an institution is to maximize its use of technology.
As technology evolves and campuses change, it will become even more critical that institutions, especially those on a tight budget, invest in technology effectively and efficiently. Spending money on technology isn’t enough. Colleges and universities need to take further steps to ensure they are getting the most out of their technology investments.
- 5 Steps to Maximize Your Higher Education Tech Investment - July 19, 2023