Jeff Elliott, Director of Product Management at Jenzabar, an EDUCAUSE Platinum Partner, offers his perspective on the next five years of technology.
Director of Product Management
Jeff Elliott: Hello everyone. I'm Jeff Elliott, and I'm the Director of Product Management with Jenzabar. And as you can imagine, in my role, I spend a lot of time talking to many different users in higher ed, from IT users to CIOs, Director of Academic Advising, or the Director of Student Success. And one of the common themes that always comes up during our discussions, is what technologies do you think will be the most important for higher education over the next one to five years? And I'm going to resist kind of shouting out, the cloud, because it's too high level, it's too nebulous, and probably a little lazy on my part. But I do only have a couple of minutes. So I thought I'd share my brief thoughts on the five items related to technology that I think are really going to drive higher ed success and change over the next five years. And the first one is within Cloud Native. Folks will want to make sure they're building their foundations, all of their tools are built around, particularly your database, of course, around advanced microservices and containerization. Those are very technical details within how your environment is set up, but microservices will allow you to kind of develop that elastic scalability, for example, during a registration period. Think of it as a pie. And if you try to eat one pie at one time, that's really hard, but if you slice it up into pieces, the more granular the pieces, the more easier it is to consume. And that's exactly what your environment goes through when it's using different resources. And it's really a great way to maximize the efficiency of your overall environment. The second one is data integration with open APIs. I do believe we are seeing a bit of a pendulum swing away from an entire best of breed ecosystem, but there are a lot of great tools out there at a lot of different price points that folks want to leverage. And it will be so important to be able to pull all them together in a tight, seamless data integration. It will not be enough to simply bring data into an environment. You're going to want to work with that data across multiple tools. And that type of data integration will be huge in allowing your folks to get access to data, get data out of the system, that sort of thing. So really important there. The third one is artificial intelligence, I believe, will become an extremely important partner, and I use that term very specifically, for you to provide service to students. Think of in the form of a chat bot, for example, where 2:00 AM, students have questions. Now, maybe you're not able to set your chat bot up to answer the most detailed or personalized or specific questions. But what a great partner, what a great resource to have available as students turn more and more to their online tools, to be able to have a partner in the form of a chat bot, helping them answer those questions and drive them down to the right people, to get those further details. Or with artificial intelligence, to leverage data in the form of data analytics. To better understand your community, your campus, whether it's brick and mortar or virtual, and leverage those big data moments to help make more effective decisions. And being able to identify those moments, leverage that data will help you stay true to your mission, to what you're trying to do as an institution. So really looking for artificial intelligence to boom over the next few years. The next one is security. Absolutely cannot talk about cloud or web without talking about security. And it is becoming so important as we talk about moving folks to the cloud and moving to web-based tools. Access to data via the web is crucial, but it also represents a new horizon that's going to be really important for IT folks and vendors to work together with each other to figure out how to best kind of work that out together. The data protection is crucial, but you also want to make sure you can allow that functionality. So, an academic advisor for instance, will need to be able to work with student remotely from their , off hours potentially, or from the quad on a different device. These are all new moments in higher ed, and it's something we push with our software is that extensibility of the role with student success. You absolutely want to be able to meet the student where they are, and allowing these different web-based tools to be extensible is crucial, but you've got to protect that data. So data security is going to be a huge one as we move forward over the next few years. And lastly, of course, something that is very near and dear to my heart. It is not necessarily a technology, but I believe folks will want to embrace technologies that help their institutions maintain student engagement and student empowerment that, let's face it, we might've lost a little touch with during everyone's COVID isolation. The triage moment in higher ed when COVID hit was to get all of our classes online. Folks did a wonderful job with that. They figured it out, all that stuff, but what they were left with in a bit of a vacuum behind that was how do I engage my students outside the classroom, but in a virtual way, beyond the virtual classroom? It's those students that gain as much in their experience in those organic connections, those organic moments, of running into a faculty member or working with each other or a staff member. How will we leverage technology to make sure that institutions that do that and align it with policy and procedure to help drive student success will see the greatest gains in that success moment, both inside and outside the classroom? So that's kind of that next frontier, and schools that find a way to leverage technology beyond their LMS to represent those organic interactions. I was one of those students. I will tell you, I believe I gained as much learning and as much kind of growth outside the classroom as I did in. And folks that are able to replicate that are really going to see tremendous gains, I believe, in student success, and retention as well. So I hope, folks, you enjoy these five thoughts, and you take them back to your campus, and you give them strong consideration. I really do believe these are foundational moments for you to use, to not just kind of think about, but implement and grow and work together as a campus to really kind of come out in the next one to five years, defining what success means to you and using technology to leverage that. So I really appreciate it, everybody. Have a wonderful rest of your day, and we'll talk to you soon.