News and Innovation from Oracle UK and Ireland

What do higher education leaders need to know about the cloud?

By Philip Craig, Strategy and Business Development

In 2019 the Department for Education published and ‘EdTech Strategy’. The strategy flagged that, all too often, technology enabled business change across the education sector failed to deliver value for money or the benefits sought. 

Unfortunately, the technology infrastructure at many universities only makes the challenge more difficult. The technology environments actually impede their ability to sense change and respond quickly. While there is no simple fix for this problem, help is at hand in the form of cloud computing.

Cloud computing is a sharp departure from the status quo. Organisations lease their digital assets, rather than keeping software and hardware ‘on premise’, and then rent what they need. Sceptics argue there isn’t anything cloud can do that on-premise approaches can’t accomplish. Universities can buy or build software, install it in their own data centres, enable applications for different devices and make them available via web browsers.

And it is true, they can. But they rarely do. IT departments are too stretched with day-to-day maintenance activities. Doing the activities listed above prove surprisingly difficult, expensive and time consuming on legacy technology. There is precious little bandwidth for development or strategic initiatives. 

The cloud offers a way for universities to pursue opportunities nimbly and cost effectively. In 2018 Northumbria University launched its five-year vision and strategy. It set ambitious targets for improving the effectiveness of finance, human resource and planning systems. In choosing Oracle Cloud, staff productivity and satisfaction will benefit from user experience improvements, applications that facilitate collaboration and greater insights from mining data.

What’s more, many unanticipated cloud benefits arise after a project is launched and staff discover novel ways to use the new technology. Oracle Cloud promotes continuous innovation as customers benefit through quarterly updates that comprise bug fixes, new functionality and enhancements based on customer requests. Customers take advantage of new features to improve business processes and innovate. 

What are the implications of the adoption of cloud technologies? If the cloud’s only impact was on universities’ IT budgets, the implications would be relatively minor. But as we’ve seen, cloud computing offers advantages in, at a minimum, productivity, analytics and collaboration. 

How valuable are these advantages? It is hard to measure but here is some food for thought. How would you feel if other universities started pulling away from you in those areas simply by changing their computing infrastructure?

Find out more about Oracle’s work in the UK public sector here.

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