The Changing Face of Technology in Higher Education

3 February 2020
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By Dawn McKenzie, Senior HE Consultant, Inoapps

Higher Education organisations face ongoing challenges in an evolving marketplace. While the implementation of new technology has a pivotal role to play in helping universities get to grips with newly emerging as well as recurring issues, its implementation must also be accompanied by a wider review of processes and practices by all stakeholders across the institution.

Universities are increasingly moving away from on-premises technology, migrating towards cloud solutions to help enhance their management of core activities including teaching, research and services. Inoapps has been at the forefront of this revolution, supporting a huge range of higher education clients in making this transition, which can deliver major operational benefits but can also create significant challenges in how the technology is adopted by an organisation.

The move to the cloud represents a significant paradigm shift, changing the way many universities are used to working, but this is all for the better. The advantages of cloud migration include increased efficiency and scalability, cost savings, and enhanced usability. However, to fully capture these and other benefits, a wider change management programme which embraces social aspects of technological change and process standardisation across an entire higher education organisation is essential.

Any cloud implementation project will predictably focus on the technical changes required to operate a new, centralised system, but it’s also important for universities to also adopt changes to the often fragmented methods they’ve historically used for data-gathering and recording. Failure to do so means that old problems are simply transferred on to new technology platforms.

Adopting a wider change management programme as part of a cloud migration enables universities to gain a better understanding of their situation and develop techniques which will help them identify and resolve ongoing problems. Inoapps’ own research across the higher education sector has demonstrated that effective change management requires the creation of both formal and informal structures to encourage collaboration and knowledge-sharing. While this can often present challenges, as many university departments can operate on a highly autonomous and independent basis, creating forums for cross-departmental knowledge-sharing and communication can really enhance technology systems for everyone within an institution.

Embracing change on a holistic basis leads to a fundamental cultural shift for many universities but ultimately creates a better understanding of the range of processes and activities undertaken by staff and students, significantly improving communication and collaboration across core audiences. Investing in this approach at the beginning of the tendering process is therefore critical for organisations in harnessing maximum value from their migration to the cloud. 

The creation, validation and communication of effective knowledge requires commitment and an investment in time and resources. User groups can be an invaluable tool in this process as shared knowledge from different areas and audiences across a university can really enhance understanding of processes, systems, and dependencies while reducing areas of complexity. This shared approach also safeguards important in-house knowledge, ensuring it is retained within an organisation in the event of key staff moving on to another employer.

In determining new solutions to new problems, it is also import to consider the structures, policies, and behaviours which previously enabled or inhibited successful change for universities. This is a core aspect of the process from which institutions can learn from previous experiences and develop improved solutions when managing future challenges.

Inoapps has a wealth of experience of operating within the higher education sector. As an Oracle Platinum Partner, we work closely with our clients to help them maximise their technology investment to ensure cloud migration delivers benefits across their entire organisation. Change management sits at the heart of success as it helps clients capture the benefits of knowledge-sharing and collaboration across all departments and groups served by a university, empowering it to better manage future challenges and deal with unanticipated issues. As the higher education environment continues to evolve, our approach benefits our university clients long after the technology has moved on.

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