Sunday, 8 November 2015

Start of Gartner Symposium, Student Systems Landscape

I'm at the Gartner Symposium at the moment, a huge conference, covering all sectors, public, private, education. It's really interesting to rub shoulders and sit in sessions with CIOs and senior IT managers from many different companies. Having said that, the main session I went to today was specifically aimed at Higher Education, and was about the Student System landscape. As usual I'll try and get posts up thoughout the conference, so they will be in note form and please excuse the grammar, spelling and spacing as this blogging app keeps putting extra line spaces!

Student systems are old. Their average age according to a recent EDUCAUSE survey is 13 years. Many of them are heavily customised, especially older ones.

This survey from 2013 reported that few were thinking of changing. But more institutions are now thinking about replacing their student system, possibly because new players emerging.

We are on threshold of next generation SIS, this is their history:

  • Homegrown solutions arrived in 1980
  • Vended SIS emerged in 1990s, mainly best of breed
  • 2000 saw birth of ERP solutions
  • 2005 we had open source dreams. Some public approaches to building open source systems eg Kuali. $10m spent on open source system but not there yet.
  • 2015 on threshold of next generation of cloud based systems

Current SIS systems are like the Tin man in a yoga class- Very inflexible.

They also give a very poor user experience, and are Institution centric not student centric. Not surprising as most were originally written To automate back office functions. They have limited mobile or social functionality, are transaction orientated, and it is difficult to mine the data in them

Traditional business model support. Hard to support non traditional students and courses.

Heavy on premise footprint.

Increasingly costly to sustain.

All the above for something that often isn't perceived as being that good!

Over next few years the market will change. On supply side, new vendors entering the space, some original vendors are doing new things. New players coming from Asia. Not ready yet but will mature.

By 2017 at least 75% of new systems will be SaaS or cloud based

Through 2018 more than 10% of education institutions will adopt cloud based ERP offerings from India.

Vendos evolving their existing SIS include:

  • Campus management
  • Ellucian
  • Jenzabar
  • Oracle
  • SAP
  • Tribal

Vendors building new SIS systems include:

  • Jenzabar
  • Kuali
  • Oracle. New SIS being built specifically to manage non traditional programmes etc
  • SAP
  • Unit4 (acquired three rivers systems). Developing a new system, cloud based. Will be launched in January 2016.
  • Workday. 2 years into building a student system.

Emerging solutions coming from Asia Pacific region.

CIOs need to consider whether their strategy is it to refresh, replace or renovate ( throw out what's bad, keep what's good, buy new modules)

Student system is deconstructing. If you were starting today would you build something to cover everything? Probably not. Current systems are not just big, they're bloated.

People are building modules, eg for admissions, often on top of CRM such as workforce.

Are new admissions platform being developed in the UK eg Full Fabric

Monolithic ERP/SIS suites willgive way to cloud based modules for things like enrolment, recruitment, curriculum management, records and registration, course evaluation

We will need different architectures and integrations. Loosely coupled systems which are flexible and agile.

At same time, components are getting richer. Being built on modern technology including:

  • SAAS
  • Flexible
  • Native CRM
  • Real time analytics
  • Modular design
  • Standards based
  • Data interoperability
  • SOA
  • Supporting non traditional students and courses

There's a lot of investment in educational technology and with a blurring of borders around SIS, CRM. LMS, there are New business model opportunities emerging.

We should expect to be working with more and smaller vendors

The ERP mega suite vendors should not dominate our strategy

Use this HOOF model to work out where we are, where we are heading, and what we could do differently.

Integration strategy is key. Will need multiple integration technologies. IT has a major responsibility for it, but the business needs to be involved.

Look at business process outsourcing as a possible solution in some areas.

Analytics is going to be very important:

Two very important take home points:

Review legacy vendor road maps, but watch and evaluate emerging vendors.

Don't let a single ERP vendor dominate


Excellent talk, and very relevant for us at the moment!


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