Developing a Digital Transformation Strategy for Universities

IEEE Computer Society Team
Published 01/28/2023
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digital transformation

Digital transformation (DX) was already gathering steam globally when the COVID-19 pandemic forced many who were reluctant to change tack and embrace it. Before the pandemic, it was estimated that 40% of technology expenses were earmarked for digital transformation, and that has risen exponentially, with the world spending over $2 trillion annually on DX.

On the other hand, the education sector has been slower to respond, with recent research revealing that only 13% of universities and colleges are actively engaging in digital transformation. But, again, the pandemic has forced a more rapid embracing of DX, as evidenced by the fact that about 70% of higher education institutions are either exploring or developing a DX strategy.

Challenges to Digital Transformation for Universities

The challenges facing educational institutions range from obstacles to the development of a DX strategy to difficulties in implementing the technology or training faculty and applicants to use it.

  • No strategy. Not having a plan in place may be due to a lack of vision regarding the needs or requirements of DX, or it may simply be not having the staff needed to develop a comprehensive strategy and implement it.
  • Insufficient technological infrastructure. Even if a strategy can be developed, the institution may lack the technical infrastructure to effect change. Investing in the necessary tech may represent a significant portion of a school’s budget.
  • System failure. For universities with the technology in place and the resources to develop and implement a strategy, there may still be a failure on the user end. A lack of training, familiarity, or technology that doesn’t address the users’ needs may fail and hinder smooth DX.

Implementing Digital Transformation in Universities

For universities to successfully implement digital transformation, four key components must be addressed and factored in.

  1. Active Participation of End Users

    Without participation from the administration and feedback from faculty and registrants, digital transformation strategies will likely be faulty at the development stage, and efforts thereafter will be wasted. To exit the development stage with a strategy that will result in user satisfaction at all levels, there needs to be adequate collaboration and effective communication from the initiation of DX.

  2. Data and Analytics

    In digital transformation, effective decision-making can only be achieved through leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) based analytics of existing data. Digital transformation cannot be approached without factoring in the technologies driving the development and implementation, such as AI and ML technologies, cloud computing, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, big data, etc.

  3. Change Management Processes

    Technology is only one side of the digital transformation process. To implement it at scale, proper change management processes need to be put in place to ensure success.

  4. Innovation

    Digital transformation is not static. New technologies and processes are constantly emerging and being tested. Strategy developers and decision-makers need to embrace innovation and think creatively. This will improve not only the administration side of education but also the curriculum, learning experience, and student outcomes.

Digital Transformation Is Critical for Universities of the Future

Digital transformation is no longer a choice but a necessity, and higher education may need to catch up. The study “Digital Transformation for the University of the Future: A Perspective” from Computer Magazine provides an in-depth analysis of the needs and best practices of implementation for DX in the educational sector. Download the full article to see how digital transformation makes for a brighter university future.

Download the Full Study

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