Transforming Higher Ed with Cloud Technology: Listen to the Full Podcast Series
Throughout the 10 years, cloud technology has become more ubiquitous in the workplace, the home, and the classroom.
The college campus combines all those facets of life, making it all the more important to have streamlined, connected technologies for all departments within the institution.
To find out how higher ed institutions are navigating the world of cloud technology, we spoke with technologists, school administrators, higher ed organizations, and software providers, to tap into their diverse perspectives. We’ve combined all of these perspectives on Cloud Technology in the podcast series Transforming Higher Ed with Cloud Technology.
In the final episode of the series, we’ve combined all of the diverse perspectives we’ve collected over the past few months, to give a snapshot of the state of cloud technology in higher ed today. Play the podcast episode above, or download it on iTunes to learn more.
Narrator: Many of those we interviewed agreed that now is the time for the cloud. So, why are schools moving to the cloud now?
Narrator: According to Joe Burkhart, Director of Higher Education Solutions at Oracle, it’s all about a shift in priorities.
Joe Burkhart: For the longest time in education, the past five, six, seven hundred years if not longer, it’s all been about getting access to education. If you could get into education, then the natural assumption was the outcomes were guaranteed. The economic downturn in 2007-2008 changed that mindset. Now it’s about success. It’s not about just getting into school, but it’s about getting students through those courses and out. And that’s starting to affect the way schools are funded. It’s starting to affect the way they operate, it’s starting to affect the way they actually manage their curriculum.
Narrator: Liz Dietz, Vice President, Student Strategy and Product Management at Workday, has also noticed a growing trend in the need for accountability in higher ed.
Liz Dietz: Pressures are growing in higher education, and they need to ensure that students are successfully moving from education to occupation. You know, there’s a lot of funding based on outcomes, and students actually either moving from a community college onto finishing their education or getting a job. And higher education institutions are looking for new technology systems that can help them, keep them accountable, keep the students accountable, in particular, by providing a real-time view for the staff and the students into their progress.
Narrator: Louis Soares, Vice President of Strategy, Research, and Advancement at the American Council on Education (ACE), says that the numbers confirm this results-focused shift.
Louis Soares: Well it’s clear that the pressure’s on the sector for accountability. Every 5 years, we do a survey of college presidents. And when you look at the things that are the most on their mind, it’s accountability, revenue, and learning outcomes.
Narrator: One way to prove these results is through data.
Narrator: Joy Walton, Managing Director and founding member of Huron, thinks that the cloud presents an unprecedented opportunity to connect silos within a university, enabling better collection of data across multiple departments.
Joy Walton: So many of the organizations that we work with are looking for ways to better streamline their business processes and to better–to get better data–out of all of the information they are collecting and processing across every function of a university. And cloud, cloud implementations offer a great opportunity to get people who typically might be working very autonomously in different silos across an organization to come together.
Narrator: And not only do cloud systems enable universities to collect data, but to use it as well.
Joy Walton: And so a cloud transformation really allows an institution to track that data and maybe slice and dice that data in a way that maybe their old accounting systems wouldn’t necessarily let them do that.
Narrator: One of the many universities leveraging this data is Arizona State University. John Rome, Deputy CIO at ASU, says the majority of his job involves analyzing these figures.
John Rome: We can spend our lives trying to do things anecdotally, But when you have data, it’s fact. The ability to be data driven and saying, you know, based on this information — and whether it’s survey data, or whether it’s data about enrollment — I now can then look at that data and take an action from it.
Narrator: Data isn’t the only deciding factor when it comes to moving to the cloud. According to Liz Dietz, cloud-based systems can also create more efficient business processes for the university.
Liz Dietz: You know, I think at the bottom line, a single cloud-based system engages students and staff at a crucial time, and it ensures the speed and accuracy of student financial data all the way from billing to payment.
Narrator: Liz says that user experience and affordability are also huge factors.
Liz Dietz: Our customers are investing in cloud-based student information systems, because they guarantee a higher quality experience, at the end of the day, at a lower cost. And it’s leading the way for the next generation of student experiences in higher education.
Narrator: So if the cloud is the place to be for higher ed institutions, what special considerations need to made before diving into a full system transformation?
Narrator: According to John Hrusovsky, Executive Project Director for the Enterprise Project at The Ohio State University, much of these considerations have to do with the sensitive data universities need to protect.
John Hrusovsky: When an organization moves to the cloud, they are moving their data to the cloud. So a typical university will have financial data, research data, HIPAA data, Student information. All sensitive pieces of information. And the challenge will be, is the cloud vendor secure?
Narrator: But according to John Rome, Deputy CIO of Arizona State University (ASU), although this is certainly something to consider, it may not be something universities need to worry too much about.
John Rome: I would say, that the amount of resources that our cloud providers have now in terms of protecting that data, is much greater than it’s ever been. In some ways almost safer than a lot of the data that we have locally.
Narrator: Aside from the security of data, another important considerations for large research institutions is reporting and compliance.
Joy Walton: Some funding agencies have very strict rules around what types of transactions they will reimburse or will count as research, and some that will not. So when you’re thinking about how to set up your chart of accounts at the very beginning of this cloud implementation, you really need to have some idea of the important research compliance consideration.
Narrator: Joe Burkhart notes that another major consideration to be made is the cultural change.
Joe Burkhart: One of the biggest challenges in moving into a cloud environment is the cultural change. Actually the technology and the implementation piece is probably the easiest thing that happens. The biggest challenge is bringing your faculty and staff along. That ties heavily to actually understanding what you want to transform into.
Narrator: Joe suggests that schools need to not just transform for the sake of transforming, but in order to find their “unique market position in higher education.”
Narrator: The role of campus technologists must also change, says Rob Abel, CEO of IMS Global. Instead of being siloed in the tech department, CIOs and CTOs are now at the hub of the entire learning ecosystem.
Rob Abel: All sorts of campus systems all involve I.T. So in many respects, you know the CIO and the CTO really has in many ways the most holistic view of everything that’s touching the student, and touching the faculty. And so IT has become more important, rather than less important, I think, in the scheme of things in education.
Narrator: Now that the tech department is so crucial to student and financial success, CIOs must take on more of a leadership role, says Rob.
Rob Abel: These CIOs really need to take more leadership and to be partners with exposing some of these ideas, you know to the other parts of cabinet, as well as, of course, working with other parts of the cabinet to get those things implemented in a scalable way.
Narrator: And the roles of staff aren’t the only thing that will have to change.
According to Allyson Fryhoff, Chief Revenue Officer at Salesforce.org, the traditional mindset of universities will have to adapt to the expectations of today’s students.
Allyson Fryhoff: So sometimes it’s a slightly different mindset that we see the trailblazers in higher education bringing on that service approach versus, “This is the way we always did things.” “This is how we have to do it.” Students are not going to accept that…very much longer.
Narrator: With the ability to update and iterate more consistently with cloud-based software, constant user feedback is one of the ways that these technologies will be developed to meet student expectations.
Allyson Fryhoff: And that’s I think a change from oh, IT is over there. The users are here. Sometimes we talk, then we go away, then we come back years later, or months later. It’s a constant process. And I think that’s a change that both the users and the information technology departments are working on how to do that.
Narrator: Joy Walton emphasized the need to include all stakeholders in the process.
Joy Walton: I think for organizations that are undergoing cloud transformation…Be sure to consider all the unique businesses of a higher ed organization.
Joy Walton: We always encourage folks to include stakeholders across the organization outside of I.T. Take some of the folks who are sitting in the research labs. Include them. Include some folks in the different auxiliary units — all the unique aspects of the university. Engage with those people early on to understand some of their unique requirements.
Narrator: John Hrusovsky at Ohio State says these technologies must meet students and staff in the middle, catering to both parties with intuitive, accessible tools.
John Hrusovsky: Whatever they’re doing with their phones and tablets, that’s the same technology they’re going to leverage, the same concepts they’re going to leverage now as a student. To the staff, it is the ability to have consistency across the institution, so a complex higher ed institution will have multiple units, multiple aspects of the organization, and the cloud, it gives them the opportunity to have that consistency of those business processes.
Narrator: Joe Burkhart of Oracle goes on to note that the standards are not set by other higher ed institutions, but by the technology available at their fingertips every day.
Joe Burkhart: It’s not that the schools are being benchmarked against the next school down the road or against X-Y-Z institution, they’re being benchmarked against the website or the mobile site that the student was on five seconds before they started interacting with that institution.
Narrator: Joe says that in order for universities to compete, their student-facing technologies need to be as intuitive and frictionless as the apps on their phones.
Joe Burkhart: It should not create an administrative or a bureaucratic barrier. Right? It should just be something that they have to do that goes through very smoothly, seamlessly, without any friction, so that they can also really focus on what their core mission is, in this case, which is the understanding and the uptake of this knowledge that the institution is delivering to them.
Narrator: Rob Abel of IMS Global sees these new technologies as a way to improve accessibility now, and even more in the future.
Rob Abel: You know some institutions have just taken tremendous advantage of technology now to enable these new blended models that really changed really the amount of students that an institution can actually support. And I think that’s that’s been the one ubiquitous thing that’s happened. The rest of this stuff, like actually improving learning, and using data. That’s all the…kind of the frontier. You know, that’s different.
Narrator: And what else can we expect in the future? Liz Dietz of Workday foresees a number of changes in higher ed.
Liz Dietz: The thing that we have to acknowledge right off the bat is that one thing we can count on is that our industry is changing. There are so many pressures on higher education, questioning the value, the cost, the length of time.
Narrator: Joe Burkhart of Oracle seems to agree.
Joe Burkhart: I don’t know that you can really plan for it. I think you can plan for the fact that it’s going to change.
Narrator: And the cloud will help propel those changes, says Allyson Fryhoff of Salesforce.
Allyson Fryhoff: So cloud computing is about innovation. It’s about flexibility. It’s about scalability. It’s about being able to be more responsive to your organization.
Narrator: Ultimately, those working on implementations or providing cloud technology agree on two things: higher ed is going to change. And the cloud is one way to get there.
Narrator: This is Hannah Nyren with EdTech Times.
Listen to the full series, Transforming Higher Ed with Cloud Technology.
This episode is brought to you by Huron.
Huron is a global professional services firm with an extensive history in higher education. For nearly two decades, Huron has provided consulting services for over 500 educational institutions, including all 100 of the top research universities in the United States.
You can learn more about what Huron does by visiting huronconsultinggroup.com.
Hannah Nyren is the General Manager of EdTech Times. A Texan by birth but a Bostonian at heart, Hannah is an educational writer, AmeriCorps alum, and one-time StartupWeekend EDU (SWEDU) winning team member. She started her career at a Pearson-incubated edtech startup, but has since covered travel, food & culture, and even stonemasonry in addition to education.