Higher education institutions are under immense pressure to deliver new experiences, enable short- and long-term student success, and support seamless communication across campus—all while keeping the budget in check. Cloud computing may offer, in part, a solution to some of these challenges, allowing institutions to become more agile, scalable, secure, and cost-effective.
Cloud adoption rates are accelerating at a much faster pace outside of higher education. There could be several reasons for this, especially regarding perceptions around security, as migrating highly sensitive data inherently poses risk. Despite this concern, however, other B2C industries are moving to the cloud. According to a 2019 report by financial data and infrastructure provider Refinitiv, 48 percent of financial services’ IT budgets will be allocated to public cloud investments in 2020. So, if highly sensitive industries like the financial sector are moving to the cloud, then why not higher education institutions?
There seems to be a slight disconnect between what the cloud means for enterprises and what it means for institutions, which is preventing schools from abandoning paper-based, manual operations and embracing the digitalized, automated strategies for which the cloud is known.
Here are a few things higher education can learn from other cloud and digitalization programs.
Siloed business operations are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Digitalization and cloud computing programs have enabled organizations to become much more collaborative in nature, as the cloud can host more seats and improve visibility end to end. Looking at software development as an example, waterfall methods are being outmaneuvered by Agile, DevOps-based practices that allow for more creativity and cross-team collaboration.
This same mentality can be applied to the higher education industry. Using cloud-based environments, teams across campus can come together, easily share information, enable more transparent operations, and collaborate to complete complex tasks faster and with greater accuracy. A holistic, cloud-based higher education ERP system can bridge the gap between departments using a singular data warehouse or lake. In doing so, faculty, administration, and staff can all access the same student or institutional information using their own department’s applications, which enables better decision-making.
Disaster recovery is a top priority for enterprises, especially those that are responsible for maintaining and protecting highly sensitive IP and information. The cloud introduces a natural boost in redundancy by centrally storing and naturally backing up data. As a result, organizations can be better prepared to restore operations and safeguard confidential data in the wake of an emergency.
This is one of the biggest advantages for higher education institutions, which are responsible for storing extremely sensitive information on students, staff, and their organization itself. Schools are responsible for the safekeeping of the information in their possession, regardless if a natural disaster strikes and fries their servers. Storing and backing up information in the cloud means that all that sensitive data can be restored.
Additionally, the cloud can help institutions get back online quickly. With today’s nontraditional students, who often pursue their education remotely, it is critical that institutions restore operations in the wake of an emergency. Students, staff, and other end users are extremely demanding in today’s always-on world. Institutions simply can’t afford to be offline for long.
One of the many reasons that enterprises have made the transition to the cloud is because of the environment’s scalability. In the past, if an organization wanted to expand its operations, it needed to physically purchase servers, install them, and bring them online. This was a costly and time-consuming process. Because the cloud can be hosted elsewhere, new storage and services can be brought online extremely quickly, for a fraction of the price.
The cloud’s elastic, scalable nature is an invaluable trait for higher education institutions. Student populations are always fluctuating and academic program needs, depending on the number and type of programs, can change rapidly. Using the cloud, institutions can use environments that provide the flexibility and scalability they need if their demands increase or decrease. Likewise, the cloud can cater to these needs on demand, which means institutions don’t necessarily need to lock into storage volumes or a specific number of services like they would have had to with traditional on-premises environments.
These are only a few of the examples that higher education institutions can take from other industries that have pursued the cloud. By translating and applying other business digitalization and cloud transformation programs to their own expectations, higher education institutions will likely find themselves in a better position to compete.
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