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After a perfect storm and seismic shift, THREE of the Next Big Things in university IT?

The final talk on Thursday was by Paul Hopkins. Paul commented that many universities are not planning for the world ahead, just buckling down to weather the current storms.  He suggested three potential seismic shifts that could fundamentally change the way we work.

His first suggestion was the rise of the platform-based business app.  A platform such as iOS or Google play runs across multiple devices, provides rich functionality such as document management, & search.  An app uses 10% unique coding but 90% is taken from the platform in which it is embedded.  The same principle could be applied to “ordinary” applications.  Paul built a disability system built on Office 365/Microsoft Dynamics, with interfaces to university data, with the business logic just coded in the workflow.  Paul suggested that open source apps could be made available from an HE app store.

His second suggestion was that you don’t need an on-campus data centre.  As an example, UCA sold the campus that held their data centre.  Rather than build a new one, they just rented rack-space at ULCC and Custodian.  They avoided the cost of a new data centre and achieved lower operating costs.

His third suggestion was that universities could outsource CRM to call centres.  Modern call centres have “omni-channel” systems that offer contact by e-mail, social media, live chat, SMS, skype and other means of communication, all 24/7, which is far more than universities can achieve. Retail sites are learning to detect when people are leaving their sites without buying and using this as a trigger to contact the users and ask whether they need help.  Paul argued that if universities can encourage pre-applicants to move from browsing to applying, we could easily attract better students and thus more income.  We could also use the call centre for marketing  for example marketing unpopular courses to pre-applicants or funding drives to alumni.

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