Three ways institutions are adapting to the new normal
Digital innovation post-pandemic
Part of this response to challenged resources has seen tertiary institutions look at leveraging technology to reduce capital expenditure. IT teams have been working closely with their business units to identify the best projects in terms of delivering return on investment. In other words, asking: what will be the most important initiatives over the next 12–18 months, those on which we should be investing our limited funds? By way of example, it's likely that the student experience will be even more important in terms of attraction and retaining. Ensuring that appropriate investment continues to be invested and aligned to differentiation in the market will be paramount post pandemic.
The work from home story is still being written. We do not yet know whether all employees and faculty will be returning to the workplace. What we do know is that they will be expecting a more agile approach in the future – and working from home for at least some of the time will probably become business as usual.
Another change is that tertiary institutions are looking to digitise more processes and eliminate paperwork. Automated workflows and other technologies have long been available, but those yet to adopt them were clearly at a disadvantage when COVID-19 hit, offices deserted en masse, and operations went online by necessity. This current situation reinforces the importance of Artificial Intelligence, automation and sound business processes.
Surviving 'business unusual'
Whatever the short- or longer-term future holds, to survive in a competitive world calls for resilience and mobility. That is why SaaS is now the way to go. Fears about security have been seen to be irrational; just as you can secure corporate systems delivered to your branches, you can now deliver them safely to remote users on any device.
Perhaps the principal advantage of transitioning to SaaS is the ability to free up internal resources to focus on truly strategic business innovation. With SaaS, your systems are managed for you by experts. You have no hardware to maintain, and no operating system or application software to patch and update. At any given time, you have the latest versions of a suite of fully integrated solutions to run your tertiary institution, along with the confidence that any advances will be yours for the using as soon as they are launched. This frees up time to focus on accelerating out into the new normal, verifying the old adage that to progress your business, leaders need to ‘work on their business, not in their business.
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