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Unit4 UK: Five tech trends in HE

OpinionHigher Education
By Heather McLean | 25 July 2017
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Create DateJuly 25, 2017
Last UpdatedJuly 24, 2017

By Matt Searles, industry director for education, Unit4 UK.

From embedded CRM to virtual personal assistants for students, higher education has the potential for more digital advancement to better serve their constituents than any other industry in 2017 and beyond. Below we highlight the five key trends we believe will drive technology decisions in education.

Predictive analytics 

Higher education leaders are starting to realise what predictive technology can do for an institution. From determining which students are most at risk of dropping out before it happens, to supporting retention strategies that persist toward degree completion. It also has the ability to improve operational efficiency and identify opportunities for growth.

Enterprise applications get AI

We’re starting to see the emergence of intelligent apps where enterprise applications are infused with artificial intelligence (AI). New virtual personal assistants have the potential to transform the higher education workspace. From applying to college, to arriving on campus, signing up to courses and eventually graduation, there is a multitude of ways bots can help to streamline the process. Through a Natural Language Interface (NLI), or a more streamlined approach where a bot works behind the scenes delivering information through the students preferred NLI, such as Siri, Cortana, or Alexa, these personal assistants will begin to simplify university administration for students.

Student lifecycle CRM

In education, CRM has traditionally been used just for the front and back ends; admissions and alumni plus fundraising. However, students today are demanding a much higher level of service given the financial investment. What we’re starting to see is increased interest in supporting all phases of the student lifecycle, including registration, academic advising, student billing and continuing education for lifelong learning. This would provide institutions with a 360-degree view of students supporting better service delivery to students and an improved student experience. This trend reflects the move we’re seeing away from an institution-centric mind-set to a student-centric model.

Embedded support of non-traditional programmes

Catering to non-traditional learners, be they part-time, continuing education, competency-based, online and distance learning, or training as part of workforce development, is a key growth component for almost all institutions. Legacy Student Information Systems (SIS) solutions struggle to manage these types of learners, and institutions have been forced to use application add-ons to try and solve this. This capability is increasingly being built into the core SIS so they are handled naturally in the system.

Mobility is not just for students anymore

In the past the primary focus for enterprise applications (primarily SISs) has been on creating a mobile experience for students. That’s all good, but employees want mobility too. They desire a consumer-grade experience, just like students and employees across the campus need mobile-friendly access to perform work on-the-go. Today’s SISs must be truly mobile-first to meet the needs of institutions now and in the future.

Unit4 is a provider of enterprise applications empowering people in service organisations.


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