Technology in higher education can be transformational to an institution’s long-term success. Nowadays though, there are so many options that it seems nearly impossible to know what you need, and even how to go about starting that decision-making process. There are several factors that go into “What technology do I need?” but it’s most important to look at “Why do I need this technology?” and “How does this technology help us reach our goals?”. 

It’s a crowded market in this tech-savvy world with hundreds of programs, platforms, software, and services. It’s difficult to keep it all straight: CRM, SIS, ECM, ERP, RMS, LMS, LRM, courseware solutions, advising solutions, lecture/video solutions, career-readiness solutions, and the list goes on.

Eduventures created this visual of the 2019 Higher Education Technology Landscape to show some of the providers in each space: 

Phew, not a lot of white space here… Before you feel overwhelmed, let’s break it down. 

Choosing Higher Ed Tech: Where Do I Begin? 

As with all new initiatives, your institution’s strategic plan must be at the forefront for consideration. You may have a desire to implement new processes and technology to solve a functional problem, but it is crucial to take a step back and consider overall goals so that you can position your desire as an organizational need. What are your institution’s primary goals and how will a new tech solution help achieve them? Are you looking to increase enrollment? Improve staff effectiveness? See better alignment across departments at your institution? Enhance your student communications strategy? Get a better handle on analytics and impact? Better serve students? Or, in many cases, all of the above. 

By starting with the bigger picture, you’ll not only ensure that a new technology is directly aligned with your institution’s long-term goals, but you’ll also be able to identify opportunities that will benefit multiple departments and teams. 

Choosing Higher Ed Tech: Who’s Involved? 

To ensure alignment and avoid any red flags later on, you’ll need to identify key decision makers as well as necessary departments to include in this process. If the new tech is solving for a specific department or functionality, make sure to bring important information to the people in charge. Additionally, we recommend considering the following leaders and departments to be involved.

  • IT – Will it comply with data security regulations and integrate with existing systems? How much time and energy will be needed to maintain the system? 
  • Enrollment Management – Will it help increase enrollment and shape class? 
  • Student Services – Will it boost staff effectiveness as well as current students’ sense of belonging, access to resources, and advancement towards completion? 
  • Academic Affairs – Will it help students learn better, faculty teach better, and/or increase prestige of the school? 
  • Purchasing – Will it follow state-wide guidelines and RFP requirements? Plus, someone’s gotta give the green light for budget. 

Not everyone will need to be in every strategic meeting, however, identifying your key stakeholders up front will help formulate a business case to present your reasoning for new technology. 

Choosing Higher Ed Tech: What Kind of Emerging Technology Should I Consider? 

Whether you’re looking into new tech based on current pain points or simply wondering what else is out there, you’ll need to do some research. 

It’s helpful to look into what technologies are currently producing outcomes so you don’t mistakenly go with anything limited or outdated. In March 2019, TechRepublic published an article titled “10 Technologies That Will Impact Higher Education The Most This Year”. At AdmitHub, we incorporate artificial intelligence (#2 on the list) with nudge tech (#5) and predictive analytics (#4) to impact students across the full lifecycle (#9). 

  • Artificial Intelligence: Machine learning (the process that allows systems to automatically learn and improve from experience without being explicitly programmed) that resembles what we consider human intelligence. Learn more with AdmitHub’s AI Glossary for University Leaders.
  • Nudge Tech: Sending interventions, typically in the form of texts or emails, that steer students in the right direction by keeping them on track. Education Dive says “good nudges get good results.”
  • Predictive Analytics: Using data to derive insights, such as the likelihood of students dropping out or the financial need of incoming and returning classes. Read “How Predictive Analytics is Transforming Higher Education” via Villanova University.

Do your due diligence when researching new tech partners to ensure all functionality and impact claims are backed up with real data. In 2017, AdmitHub completed a Randomized Control Trial with Georgia State University to prove the impact our platform and partnership had on decreasing summer melt and increasing successful enrollment. We’re dedicated to continual research studies like this, not only to prove our impact, but to make sure we’re constantly improving based on real feedback from partners and students. 

Another crucial element when selecting a vendor is to consider finding a true thought partner you can grow with. There are unfortunately many companies that will install their technology and move on, and that’s simply not beneficial in the long run. At AdmitHub, our Partner Success Team takes you through implementation and beyond, holding quarterly business reviews with your team to analyze impact on a regular basis and make sure staff is comfortable utilizing this new communications platform in the most effective manner to stay on track towards your goals. 

Choosing Higher Ed Tech: Let’s Make it Happen. 

Now that you’ve done your research, involved the right people and departments in the process, and aligned everything to your institution’s strategic plan, you’re ready to present your business case to executive leadership and key stakeholders. The partner you’ve selected can – and should – be a part of this meeting, and may even run the presentation for you. 

When you’ve gotten approval and purchased your new solution (congrats!), it’s time for implementation. Remember those key stakeholders and departments? Anyone who will be using this new tech should be involved in implementation. 

Create at least one clear and measurable goal for this new tech solution, and set a timeline to it. Determine what metrics are important to measure success, and analyze these numbers on an ongoing basis. If your goal is to increase enrollment and shape class, you would measure the number of enrolled students as well as diversity of the class compared to the previous year. If your goal is to increase staff effectiveness, you could measure the number of inbound phone calls or the percent of students who meet with their advisor. If you want to increase student engagement on campus, you could measure event attendance. Always keep these goals top of mind and make sure your technology partner is with you every step of the way to achieve them.

Choosing Higher Ed Tech: The “How-To” Shortlist

  1. Align technology desires to strategic plan goals. 
  2. Consider technology trends and proven impacts among peers. 
  3. Involve the right people and departments in the decision making process.
  4. Onboard everyone to ensure alignment and understanding. 
  5. Analyze the effectiveness on an ongoing basis. 

What emerging technologies are you considering for your campus, and what goals are you hoping to achieve? We’d love to hear from you! Tweet us @AdmitHub or submit a demo request with your comments and questions to get in touch.