How the University of Kentucky uses data to stay ahead of higher education trends


For these in increased education, the beginning of a brand new decade has meant the rise of numerous sudden — and substantial — challenges of their business.

First, the COVID-19 pandemic upended life as we knew it, necessitating rapid closings and the non permanent suspension of in-person education on an enormous scale. Faculties and universities around the globe immediately needed to discover methods to meet their obligations to greater than 1 billion students, all whereas working remotely.

Then, the long-term ramifications came into focus: Larger ed establishments needed to forge a brand new path ahead, one by way of the (comparatively) short-term challenges of COVID-19 and into the long-term challenges of coming generations. These challenges, although, are additionally alternatives — whether or not it involves the general technological flexibility enabled by the cloud, the elevated availability of information analytics to tell operational resolution making, or the overall ubiquity of expertise throughout college students’ lives.

To embrace these challenges and capitalize on these alternatives, increased ed leaders should think about a couple of key questions: What is going to it appear like to satisfy the wants of scholars going ahead? How will you embrace new applied sciences to construct the college of the long run? And, above all else, how are you going to proceed to supply high quality education and glorious scholar experiences alongside the best way?

Larger Ed, White and Blue  

The mission of the University of Kentucky, based mostly in Lexington, Ky., has lengthy been to coach, analysis, innovate, heal and serve. However fulfilling that mission in a post-COVID world seems to be fairly completely different than it did when the land-grant college was based over 155 years in the past. That’s why college president Eli Capilouto introduced Kentucky’s Path Ahead initiative in late 2021: to establish and implement new methods to function extra effectively and cost-effectively, and to proceed the college’s custom of offering high-quality education.

“We checked out our operations and tech procurement, and it wasn’t the place it wanted to be,” stated Barry Swanson, chief procurement officer for the College of Kentucky.

The college, stated Government Director of Enterprise Purposes Adam Recktenwald, wanted a extra versatile system, one that may concurrently assist and lead his workforce as they tailored to a brand new working mannequin.

“Effectivity and effectiveness are first,” he stated, “and that comes again to 1 factor: how effectively the programs work and combine.”

Going Wild(cat) About Scholar Expertise

Because the college evolves, price management have to be a big consideration. As an illustration, management knew it wanted a greater method of managing bills associated to housing, which is often one of many largest price facilities for universities. Nonetheless, they needed to verify they balanced any minimizing of the housing funds with the continuous provision of high-quality housing that creates nice scholar experiences (an enormous consider recruitment and income).

Making one of the best selections about operations, bills and scholar experiences required a higher reliance on knowledge. The College of Kentucky workforce realized they’d want expertise able to analyzing the huge volumes of knowledge they may acquire in order that they may higher inform very important, forward-thinking selections.

“Comply with the chief may be all-too-common in increased ed,” Recktenwald stated. “So, understanding our stance and understanding the consequences of our selections is extraordinarily essential.”

Iterating and Innovating

As decades-long SAP customers, the College of Kentucky workforce knew the worth of expertise in serving to to satisfy its challenges. Since deploying its enterprise useful resource planning (ERP) system in 2004, the college has at all times taken an iterative strategy to digitizing processes.

So, when it was time to maneuver its IT surroundings ahead once more to handle the brand new COVID-19-related challenges, the College of Kentucky selected SAP, this time implementing SAP Ariba Catalog and SAP Ariba Commerce Automation. Transitioning to this SAP cloud surroundings enabled the college to assist distant work and join with distributors and suppliers. It additionally streamlined operations and elevated visibility into operations, prices and scholar success components.  

One of many largest impacts SAP Ariba has had on the College of Kentucky is entry to knowledge insights. “With SAP Ariba, we’re utilizing knowledge to make selections,” Recktenwald stated. “We wish to make each greenback rely. Meaning working effectively, getting one of the best pricing from distributors and getting one of the best contracts.  This effectivity permits us to give attention to ensuring we offer a high-quality education and life-changing scholar experiences.”

“The generations of scholars coming into the College of Kentucky have expectations which can be lots completely different than 5 to 10 years in the past,” Recktenwald stated. “They need a high-quality education that’s remote-enabled. College students need to have the ability to research at house with expertise. However placing every little thing solely on-line isn’t the reply. A stellar residential expertise is an enormous a part of school. The individuals you meet, the experiences you may have, that’s such an enormous a part of it. We’ve actually realized that again and again, particularly throughout COVID-19. There’s an enormous distinction between coaching and true education. That’s the hole we wish to fill.”

Cloud is the Path Ahead

Recktenwald identified that high-quality education will depend on operational efficiencies, a give attention to scholar success, and data-based resolution making. All three require assist from expertise.

“Techniques as we speak actually are much more complicated, however they’re additionally much more succesful,” he stated. “Even inner customized tasks are born within the cloud. At this level, cloud is simply the lifestyle.”

Moreover, cloud options are positioning the College of Kentucky for the way forward for the enterprise aspect of upper education as effectively. “Each state of affairs we’ve been concerned with relating to distributors within the final 4-8 years has had an enormous cloud part,” Recktenwald stated. research confirms that increased education is bought on cloud. Analysts are predicting an exceptional 22% CAGR within the increased education cloud computing market from 2020 by way of 2027.

As a result of cloud options not solely allow distant work and studying, they provide higher flexibility to adapt to vary in an unsure time. They usually guarantee faculties and universities will have the ability to proceed delivering the distinctive, life-changing experiences they’re dedicated to offering.

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