Embracing Modernization: Digital Transformation in Higher Education

The landscape of higher education is transforming rapidly, and these changes are being accelerated by factors such as the pandemic and subsequent decreased enrollment rates. With the increase in competition and declining enrollment, universities need to find new ways to attract and retain students.

Additionally, state funding for public schools is decreasing, and tuition costs are rising. To combat these difficulties, institutions must adapt to shifts in technology, data, and planning processes. Students, faculty, staff, and alumni alike all stand to benefit from digital transformation.

Adapting core technology and processes to address current and future needs gives institutions the opportunity to pivot more quickly when challenges arise and be proactive about recognizing issues that may develop down the road. The benefits of digital transformation in education industry may vary depending on institution size or structure, but there are some general benefits that most institutions will see when they choose to begin digitization.

Benefits of Digital Transformation in Higher Education

Here are some of the ways in which higher education institutions can benefit from digitally transforming core systems.

Gain Flexibility and Adaptability

Universities need to be able to adapt quickly as conditions change, and centralizing core processes provides a great foundation from which they can innovate and plan. More than just supporting institutions in current challenges, digital transformation in higher education helps to capitalize on future opportunities and gain an advantage on competitors who may be less agile. Transitioning to a modern student information system (SIS) as part of the process supports admissions, curriculum management, student financials, and real-time analytics. These benefits serve to make higher education institutions more adaptable and improve the overall student experience.

Improve Talent Acquisition and Retention

Higher education leaders are struggling to maintain a competitive edge, and enrollment and retention rates are both falling steadily. By embracing digital transformation in education industry, institutions enhance the student experience and differentiate themselves from competition. Students considering attending college spend a lot of their time exploring university websites and completing applications, so creating an intuitive, streamlined experience that students enjoy can help boost enrollment. Additionally, mobile-first technology creates a consumer-like experience and allows students to complete tasks such as viewing admission status or making digital payments with ease. It is also appealing for potential and current students when universities digitize learning content such as library resources so they can be accessed from anywhere. There is no such thing as a traditional student anymore, and the sooner universities adapt to the diverse needs of the student body, the more successful they will be.

In addition to improving student enrollment, digital transformation in higher education improves faculty talent acquisition and retention. A modern, cloud-based HCM enhances every aspect of hiring and employee management including automating aspects of the interview process, onboarding new hires more quickly, and aligning talent needs with overall goals.

Consolidate Processes, Data, and Applications

Digital transformation in universities allows institutions to transition from their various legacy systems, which are often disorganized and disconnected, to a more centralized system. This enables them to plan strategically, improve efficiency, and make decisions that align with future needs. Additionally, consolidation benefits both students and staff. A centralized student information and management system can help provide important insights into an institution’s student body, and similarly, a cloud-based HCM system can offer helpful data on faculty and staff.

Transform Reporting Capabilities

One of the main ways in which institutions can benefit from automated reporting capabilities is in budget management. Budget forecasting and allocation is more imperative than ever in the current higher education landscape, and institutions are increasingly being asked to do more with less. The automation of reporting processes allows universities to generate tuition and fee scenarios, plan costs and allocate salaries, generate enrollment trend reports, and avoid the risk of human error.

Additionally, automating reporting processes eliminates unnecessary time spent gathering and verifying data, allowing staff to focus more on analysis and strategy. Utilizing automated technology to collect and leverage data from across the business and generate reports in real time helps improve planning and productivity.

Laying a Foundation with Digital Transformation in Education Industry

A digital transformation is a lengthy undertaking and can extend to just about every part of a higher education institution. For an institution considering a transformation initiative, this creates the problem of knowing where to start.
The impact of the pandemic only serves to accelerate the shift away from traditional education and the need for institutions to adapt. Every institution has different needs, and there is no one-size-fits-all transformation process, but it does help to start with a solid foundation and build from there. In general, it’s best for institutions to focus initial transformation efforts on their core systems. This includes their financial management system, HCM, analytics platform, and SIS. Universities can build a foundation by choosing to start with one or two of these systems, then roll out the rest in subsequent waves.

Starting with these tools lays a solid foundation for much of a higher education institution’s important data. From there, new solutions that incorporate technologies like machine learning and new business processes can be incorporated.

To learn about Collaborative Solutions’ higher education Services, visit our Higher Education page.

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