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Educause 2014

At the Educause annual conference for IT leaders last week, I noted a few key themes coming from the presentations and the vendors.

Student First
In the past, topics included LMS, MOOCs, and Adaptive Learning, but this year “student outcomes,” along the lines of success, student centric, CRM, retention and the like, was the main topic. I was not surprised as this topic is top of mind for most if not all schools. Several companies addressed the combination of the CRM capabilities into the student systems. For example, Workday included CRM in their first module, Campus Management announced CampusNexus with CRM in their student system, and Oracle announced their work on a cloud student system that includes CRM.

Cloud Computing NetworkChanges to ERPs
The second theme, and one that is long overdue, was the speed of changes in traditional student systems or ERPs driven by competition. In 2012, I wrote a blog about SaaS changing the higher education ERP market where I wondered:

“Will there be a disruptive ERP vendor bringing a whole new solution to market similar to what is happening in the LMS market? Probably not, but that does not mean there is not change occurring today. The vendors continue to move forward with the same models and implementing product enhancements or incremental improvements.”

I think it is evident the answer to the question is yes and no. Many of the traditional ERP vendors have moved to cloud or hosted solutions to help institutions capture at least part of the value of SaaS solutions. A potential benefit for the vendors of the cloud or hosted version is improving the speed at which institutions upgrade their software. Keeping institutions current with their software reduces support for the vendors and allows them to focus on new capabilities. On the SaaS front, new entrant WorkDay released their first student information system model. Without the baggage of an existing student system, Workday is able to architect and deliver the first component of their student system as a SaaS based solution.

Educause Wrap Up
A summary of my key take-aways from the conference are:

  • ERP/SIS vendors are significantly changing their products to meet today’s needs.
  • CRM solutions continue to grow.
  • The capabilities of CRM solutions are merging with student systems, regardless if it is starting from a CRM or SIS vendor.
  • The number of Cloud and SaaS options are increasing.
  • Competition is increasing from old and new vendors in administrative technology.
  • The changes driven by the competition will provide institutions multiple options and the ability to evaluate solutions based on their needs, the vendor’s vision and the vendor’s ability to deliver their vision. And that’s as it should be.

Want to learn more about what vendors are up to in higher education? For the latest announcements made at Educause, visit the following links:


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