Gartner has identified 10 strategic technologies CIOs in the higher education sector need to get their heads around this year to support their transformation activities and differentiate their organisations from competitors.
Four technologies that will be crucial in the education market include: cross-life-cycle CRM platforms, smart campuses, wireless presentation technologies, and career software.
Gartner said higher education CIOs working on digital strategies must pursue a "bi-modal" approach that includes maintaining key systems while creating a special unit that can explore innovation.
CIOs should be decisive about the technology they trial so they aren't stuck in endless pilots. They need to "make sure they have a process and a timeline for evaluating each technology and making a decision," Gartner said.
Importantly, they must create a balanced technology project portfolio by mixing technologies, that gradually enable new capabilities (wireless presentation technologies) with technology that optimises existing processes (cross-life-cycle CRM), as well as tech that transforms institutions (digital credentials).
The top 10 strategic technologies include:
Next-generation security and risk management
There are a variety of factors — global regulatory compliance, growing internet of things (IoT) landscape, expanding software-as-a-service (SaaS) portfolio — that are starting to force higher education institutions to address security and risk matters with a multidimensional strategy, Gartner said.
Artificial intelligence conversational interface
AI conversational interfaces are a subset of conversational user interfaces (CUIs), in which user and machine interactions occur in the user’s spoken or written natural language. CUIs place responsibility on the machine interface to learn what the user wants, rather than the user having to learn the software, saving user time, increasing student satisfaction, and being available to use 24/7.
A smart campus is a physical or digital environment in which humans and technology-enabled systems interact to create more immersive and automated experiences for university stakeholders. Smart campus initiatives are still in the early stages, but there has been a rising interest across higher education institutions.
Predictive analytics use historical data to recognise patterns and assess likely outcomes using statistical or machine learning techniques. They can assist in everything from calculating student demand for a certain course or identifying students at risk of failing, dropping out or transferring.
Nudge tech is a collection of technologies — cloud, mobile, social and data — that work together to achieve timely personalised interaction with students, staff and faculty, such as a just-in-time text (SMS) reminder for class.
Digital credentialing technologies
Digital credentials are a natural evolution from traditional credentials in eliminating fraud. The maturity of technologies like blockchain and data encryption, coupled with the evolution of professional networking sites, are driving a change in the delivery of higher education credentials. Students, faculty and the higher education institutions they are a part of are starting to expect the ability to quickly and freely exchange credentials to enhance the verification and recruitment process, Gartner said.
Hybrid integration platforms
Education providers are adopting cloud-based business applications, resulting in a hybrid portfolio of cloud and on-premises systems. Adding to the complexity of the multiple integration capabilities that the hybrid approach requires is the presence of the educational institution’s customer relationship manager (CRM) and learning management system (LMS) tools, Gartner said.
A hybrid integration platform (HIP) leverages the best in-the-cloud and on-premises integration approaches, and is rapidly becoming the reference framework for next-generation integration infrastructure.
The importance of career software has peaked globally as educational institutions become increasingly accountable for their students’ outcomes after graduation.
Student cross-life cycle CRM
Student cross-life cycle CRMs create a campus-wide, 360-degree view of a student across his or her major educational phases, beginning with pre-college and moving through prospect, applicant, enrolled, graduated and alumni statuses. Historically, most higher education CRM deployments have been driven from the functional needs of individual departments without enabling a single view of the student, Gartner said.
Wireless presentation technologies
These technologies allow users to project material from a computer or mobile device onto a screen using a wireless network, rather than hard-wired connections like a projector. Wireless presentation technologies are likely to become more important, as higher education institutions move to bring your own device and as the use of mobile technologies, such as tablets, increases, Gartner said.
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