By Steve Davidson, Vice President
Leaders in higher education face mounting pressure to deliver and account for better learning outcomes, embrace digital disruption, and replace aging and ineffective infrastructure with newer, cloud-based solutions. To take advantage of this opportunity, new and established vendors have flooded the education technology market, making it one of the most dynamic segments of the high-tech landscape.
It’s estimated that colleges and universities will spend between $20B and $25B this year on technology and services, enabling institutions to support faculty, and administration, as well as effectively market, recruit, enroll, instruct, engage, and prepare students and alums. The solutions span many categories, including enrollment management specialists, adaptive learning platforms, retention solutions, online program managers, social engagement networks, crowdsourcing applications, software-defined networks, big data platforms, and enterprise resource planning (ERP). The market is vast, confusing, and ill-defined. We hear from our clients regularly that while they want to take advantage of these new tools and solutions, they are perplexed by the ever-growing number of categories and technology vendors, and struggle with how to best to evaluate them.
To meet this growing need among our clients, Eduventures has initiated a new research focus to provide on-going analysis of the technology market to support higher education decision-makers. Our goal is to make the market more understandable, evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of technology and service offerings, and help leaders make informed decisions when selecting and implementing solutions that meet their unique institutional and learner needs.
Eduventures has developed a taxonomy to make sense of this technology landscape as a foundation for on-going research and analysis on this dynamic market:
- A student lifecycle framework for understanding the overall market and segments
- An initial categorization of hundreds of vendors serving the market
We have identified over 50 categories and hundreds of providers that market and sell technology and services to post-secondary institutions, which demonstrates how daunting this market can be for higher education leaders. Even with this preliminary analysis, we recognize that there are additional categories and companies to that can be added—our intention is to respond dynamically as new companies emerge and to update this landscape as it continues to mature, converge and evolve.
We also believe institutions will continue to seek ways to move away from siloed technology strategies and spending plans, create appropriate enterprise-based approaches and seek the innovative cloud-based solutions that will allow them to accelerate their transformation — but this process will take time.
For those institutions and innovative leaders wishing to leverage technology and services to grow and transform in the coming decade, we recommend that you:
- First, understand the essential tenets of your institution’s transformation. Each organization, with all its schools, programs, and virtual classrooms, has a unique mission it must follow as it grapples with either survival or growth. To successfully navigate this transformation, and select a solid technology and service portfolio, the institution must know: 1) its value; 2) how it will serve and be accountable to its learners as they prepare for their future; 3) the operational model(s) that are needed to serve those learners; and 4) how it will commit resources to its transformation. Without answering these questions, institutions will neither serve their learners properly, nor receive the full benefit of the technologies and services they invest in.
- Assess your bedrock platforms and whether you will build, partner or rent going forward. To enable a successful transformation, institutional decision-makers must determine which technology components and service capabilities — such as CRM, retention, LMS, learning analytics, or ERP — will serve as the foundation upon which to create future form and structure. You must also have a realistic discussion about whether to build and self-integrate, partner with a specialist, or “rent” solutions that are assembled and managed by providers. You will need to integrate with any option, but plugging in partners and next generation cloud-based solutions will help you accelerate your transformation when done correctly.
- Cultivate your strategic and technical requirements for the short and long-term. Rationalize your current portfolio of technology and services in the context of your institutional strategy and software requirements for the next five to ten years. Consider which and how potential partners address your institution’s transformational efforts (are they on our landscape?). Will you build or buy? Determine, based on your platform shortlist, how difficult it will be to maintain and integrate your current enrollment, student success, learning management, analytics or information technology components into your future infrastructure or next generation learning environment.
- Use “going digital” as a catalyst to build consensus across your institution. First movers like Arizona State, Southern New Hampshire University, and Western Governors have already started to leverage elements of digital disruption to the advantage of their institutions.
- Following their lead. Institutions that want and need to grow, but struggle to determine their path, we suggest starting out with a “going digital” strategy to engage and inspire faculty, staff, students, leadership, regional business partners, and technology providers in an institution-wide conversation. Institutions are not monoliths, and each will need to develop a tailored “going digital” strategy, but they must start having that discussion to drive both short and long-term transformational strategies.
Expect and Embrace Change
The higher education technology landscape is confusing for most higher education decision-makers who are tasked with determining new ways to provide better learning outcomes, building and maintaining a modern technology infrastructure, and rationalizing investment decisions.
Eduventures is publishing a new report that will analyze the top trends impacting the higher education technology landscape, define the categories, identify the providers, and deliver actionable analysis for senior leaders seeking insight into building next generation technology and services infrastructures to achieve their institutional objectives. This flagship report will be followed by deep dive reports offering segment by segment analysis and detailed vendor assessments.
Still have questions? If you need advice on implementing technology at your institution or choosing the right provider, contact a member of our team today.