Cloud technology appeared as a disruptor in higher education more than a decade ago. As new generations of students and personnel entered campuses across the country, it became evident that the infrastructure of higher education institutions needed to evolve. This time, though, it wasn’t a complex software update. But a once-in-a-generation company change would eliminate communication silos, erroneous data reporting, complicated legacy systems, and an aging framework.
As with any disturbance of this magnitude, taking the jump was accompanied by valid fears and non-negligible hazards. Thankfully, institutions that were early adopters of cloud technology have since established ground rules, best practices, and invaluable guidance for risk-averse institutions that prefer a certain level of assurance in the implementation process before adopting cloud technology and the accompanying business transformation.
Some small and medium-sized organizations have hesitated to adopt cloud technology due to limited resources and a high risk-reward ratio. Yet, after more than a decade, the continued delay of a commercial transformation that is now crucial to higher education's success threatens these institutions' future. Indeed, cloud technology has become essential today, allowing institutions to remain relevant and viable while fulfilling their objective. Cloud is no longer a consideration-worthy detail.
Early Adoption of Cloud Technology in Higher Education
It is essential to recognize that cloud computing is now proven. Since then, the perceived concerns that stopped several institutions from adopting the technology have been erased or resolved. The higher education sector must dispel the old perception that small and medium-sized institutions are not ready for the cloud or need to see more of the technology before they can accurately assess its dangers. The early concerns have been addressed, and several case studies demonstrate that the shift can be accomplished effectively and expanded to institutions of any size.
Although the lack of financial resources is the most common obstacle keeping smaller organizations from advancing, it is not exclusive to them. Others have overcome it. The objective is to make the appropriate investment, not to avoid investing entirely. In actuality, ignoring an institution's future demands might be more detrimental, as the expenses associated with maintaining old systems can grow substantially over time.
Adopting cloud technology necessitates a major commitment in terms of people, money, and time, but it is now unavoidable. Institutions of higher education that have yet to take this path must weigh the dangers of allowing technological debt to accumulate versus embracing strategic innovation. Small and medium-sized institutions can ease cloud adoption and enhance its long-term impact thanks to the following proven factors:
Comprehensive strategic planning
The failure to comprehend an institution's organizational preparedness, present business processes, and desired future state are among the most common errors made during a cloud shift. Before picking software or an implementation partner, institutional leaders must examine their present technology and how they would like it to improve, as well as develop a plan, a timeframe, and a list of supporting resources.
Reconsidering procedures in addition to technology. It might be costly to approach this crucial transformation from a product viewpoint by concentrating on the platform to adopt rather than the business process. Moving to the cloud is an expensive endeavor regardless of cost. Institutions that choose to partner with firms that will merely plug in the technology without providing any guidance on business process redesign, service delivery modeling, faculty engagement, governance, or change management will ultimately see little to no return on investment and spend more money in the future.
Realistic commitments to capacity
CIOs at small and midsize organizations frequently oversee strategy and tactical execution. Likewise, the CIO's staff is small and multifunctional. One of the reasons why so many cloud initiatives fail is unreasonable expectations regarding the institution's contribution. When selecting an implementation partner, leaders must be transparent about their internal talent capabilities and restrictions.
Drivestream has disrupted the industry with a solution that is subscription based and redefined the delivery model that reduces the overall costs of the transformation as compared to traditional methods. Providing a subscription model benefits the organization by reducing the amount of upfront cash required for the project and spreads the costs over the life of the transformation. The subscription includes the entire lifecycle of planning, implementation, and ongoing support.
The necessity of a partner with an in-depth grasp of higher education is another lesson that may be gained from the pioneers. The implementation of cloud technology differs between industries. During a cloud deployment, the same elements that make higher education difficult and nuanced must be carefully negotiated by a team that understands the business of higher education.
Universities supporting one another
The HESS Consortium and the Coalition for College Cost Savings have a program for a cloud transformation for private, non-profit colleges and universities that enables them to collaborate and leverage the knowledge of prior implementations. This reduces the costs and risks associated with cloud transformation and provides an ongoing support network. Other institutions are exploring similar models for a defined group of schools.
Small and medium-sized higher education institutions must take action to ensure their continued viability, relevance, and future expansion. Delaying cloud deployment further is a long-term risk that few institutions can bear. But participation and comprehension are crucial to the success of this undertaking. Institutions must recognize the vision that is sparked by such a revolution.
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