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5 Learnings from the UCISA DIG conference

After another incredibly interesting year at the UCISA DIG conference, we’ve taken the time to sit back and reflect on our learnings and the key challenges our customers are facing. We’ve separated our findings into 5 areas.

UCISA
Rachel Clay headshot

Rachel Clay

Head of Education

5 Learnings from the UCISA DIG conference

After another incredibly interesting year at the UCISA DIG conference, we’ve taken the time to sit back and reflect on our learnings and the key challenges our customers are facing. We’ve separated our findings into 5 areas:

Automation

Automation was a huge talking point at this year’s conference. We know that automation can make educational establishments more efficient in their processes, but there seems to be an air of uncertainty about how we automate specific processes. One example of this is the joiners, movers, and leavers process. There must be a smoother way to automate the process of moving around devices. If we can get this process right, both staff and students will benefit. Is the concern of budget getting in the way?

Sustainability

Sustainability is and has been a big topic for a while now but it’s a minefield. One customer commented that ‘Students are now getting put off applying to a university if they receive a physical prospectus in the post, rather than receiving an electronic copy. Sustainability hugely impacts student retention, and we are behind the curve.’ How can we improve our time management issues to re-prioritise the impact sustainability is having on application rates and retention? We need to be moving away from these repetitive tasks that could be automated to enable this industry to be more sustainable.

Survivability

Survivability is something that has been at the forefront of Higher Education institutions for several years now and the pandemic intensely highlighted the need for change. Universities have been operating in the same way for centuries. The shift to online learning was huge and one that was welcomed, but have we done enough for survival? The student experience is now one of the most key parts of university life, the expectation that everything is instant and available is now a “must” and not a “want”. Technology is now a bigger part of working life than ever with most businesses now operating with a hybrid working model. We need to prepare our students for the world of work by enabling them with these skills now. 

Operation resilience

To link the theme of survivability to the idea of surviving a cyber-attack, operational resilience is a culture of adaptation to changing environments and flexibility is key. It focuses on making key business processes resilient to a range of disruptions. We need to understand how to prevent, adapt to and recover from any threats. Higher Education establishments need to anticipate disruptions and continuously assess risks. We are asking for more than business continuity, we are asking for the industry to have a shift in mindset.

Services

The final key learning from this year’s conference is utilising more cloud services. We’ve heard many pros and cons regarding moving to the cloud for Higher Education. Although COVID accelerated this movement, more cloud services need to be embraced. Moving some of your services to the cloud can provide both immediate and long-term benefits including cost efficiencies. Time is precious to everyone’s workloads but never more so for an IT team. Many IT teams are overwhelmed and with budget restraints and with a current competitive market for candidates, additional staff are difficult to come by. Streamlining technology and utilising more services could be the way forward for the future.

I have been thinking about these 5 areas a lot recently and how we would like to help our customers. Based on the points above and other things discussed whilst at UCISA I wanted to share my view of the world and what I think Softcat could do in partnership with our customers. 

We have a fantastic office of the CTO who are primed to help our customers alleviate these challenges. Softcat offers discovery workshops to scope out the challenges, the quick fixes, and the more long-term strategies. 

I think it’s time to look at what technology is being used and the impact it has. Productivity can be increased when the right tools are used. Softcat can help you to streamline your applications, we can help you to incorporate automation tools which will ultimately free up your time to focus on the student experience. It’s time to focus on doing more with less.

If you would like to discuss any of these questions further or find out about future discussions that Softcat are planning to address these topics, contact our education team today: education@softcat.com