Perhaps as a result, higher ed survey respondents were far more likely to zero in on the personalization opportunities afforded by mobile apps (63 percent) than on predictive analytics (50 percent). “I can’t think of an institution that doesn’t have a mobile strategy, but mobile apps are really not as individualized as students desire,” said Rajecki of the typical campus offerings. “What students really want is a mobile app that provides them with just-in-time notifications and alerts for actions they need to take.”

As an example, Rajecki floated a concept for an app that might alert a student about new course materials available in the library when that student is actually in or near the library. “That’s the type of opportunity that exists with individualized content,” he said. “Most mobile apps today can push things only broadly to student populations.”

Multiple factors, including security concerns (47 percent of respondents), contribute to the slow adoption of personalized services for students, according to the survey. Another is the drag created by legacy systems, identified by 57 percent of survey respondents overall. “We’re at an inflection point where a lot of institutions are deciding whether to upgrade their current systems or move to the cloud,” said Rajecki. “When you think about when many of these applications were developed, mobile didn’t exist, social media didn’t exist—and analytics didn’t resemble what they do today.”

Given the financial upside of creating a highly personalized student experience, it’s ironic that the biggest roadblock is budget concerns, cited by 63 percent of higher ed respondents. It’s not altogether surprising then that 97 percent of higher ed respondents believe cloud-based solutions, with their pay-as-you-go business model, are an important link in helping their institutions pursue this personalized experience.

“The cloud significantly decreases the time to value,” said Rajecki, noting that 70 percent of the costs in traditional higher ed IT are related to infrastructure maintenance and administration. “Whenever someone wants to deploy a new application on premise, you’re looking at adding onto the cost center of IT to support that technology. In contrast, cloud solutions can be deployed in hours. You can begin instantaneously running campaigns that are individualized to specific students.”

About the Author:

Andrew Barbour is a contributing editor for eCampus News.

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