By Alison Weiss
Institutions and technology companies focused on education and learning are seizing on a range of technology advances, from new smartphone apps and website tools to massive open online courses and cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications, to improve their services and rein in costs. Their goal: spend more of their tech dollars on innovations that delight and retain students and customers and less on operational maintenance.
Mobile tools are proving to be particularly powerful, as traditional students and lifelong learners alike—accustomed to using smartphones and tablets—want options for learning anytime, anywhere, says Catalina Ruiz-Healy, CEO at GradGuru, a free app that helps community college students stay on track and graduate.
“Many people don’t understand the real cost of education. Even for community college, which is relatively affordable, what you pay in tuition doesn’t come close to covering the complete cost,” Ruiz-Healy says. “Almost half of all undergrads in the US go to community college, but nearly 70 percent drop out. That’s a huge drain on the economy.”
GradGuru helps students keep up with deadlines by texting reminders, offers them tips for graduating in less time, and gives students information to have more-productive conversations with their advisers. The app also makes it easy for students to ask questions about financial aid and request tutoring, “actions students may be reluctant to discuss publicly,” Ruiz-Healy says—adding that it’s “also a way for college administrators and staff to communicate with students.”
But before any educational organization can think about innovating with technology, it needs to get its core ERP applications—financial, procurement, and project management—in order. An increasingly popular choice is cloud-based ERP, which customers can deploy and scale quickly at a predictable cost.
Selim Burduroglu, a global innovation evangelist-architect within Oracle’s Education and Research Global Industry Solutions Group, says it’s no surprise that education-focused organizations are investing in cloud-based ERP solutions such as Oracle Enterprise Resource Planning Cloud (Oracle ERP Cloud).
“Modernizing with Oracle ERP Cloud improves transparency. This helps reduce operational costs and naturally leads to better decision-making and streamlined processes,” Burduroglu says. “So organizations can have better alignment of their resources to effectively support the core mission: education, research, and public service.”