One would be hard-pressed to find a sector or industry that has not at least partially transformed through the use of new technologies, as the mass digitization of information and commoditization of advanced solutions has accelerated in the past few years. With cloud computing at the center of the movement, organizations are capitalizing on the modern elasticity of IT to completely overhaul business process management frameworks, workflows, content management and more.
Although health care and manufacturing have been among the most obvious sectors to embrace new technologies, others are beginning to scale up their modernization efforts and do so successfully. For example, higher education, which has been consistently called upon to reduce the cost of admissions while strengthening the quality of coursework, has started to leverage automated workflow, BPM and content management solutions to achieve these types of objectives.
Higher education is a good example of an industry that really embraced these technologies out of need, and one that has to oblige a wealth of best practices and regulatory requirements in the process of overhauling IT. In many ways, it has become clear that the face of this particular industry is changing, and it would be hard to argue that the transformations are not in the best interests of the schools, students and parents involved.
Looking forward, more research is beginning to indicate that IT will remain a central focus for higher education in the coming years, as schools work to implement agile strategies and capitalize on major trends such as enterprise mobility and big data. Automation will play a major role in these efforts, from top to bottom, as the institutions will need to streamline processes within the IT department and across their facilities to achieve leaner operations and better educational performance.
International Data Corporation recently released a report through its Government Insights division on spending among higher education institutions in the United States, and forecast the sector to put roughly $6.6 billion into new IT expenditures this year. Considering the fact that many IT solutions are beginning to see reductions in costs thanks to price wars and enhanced competition among vendors, this further illustrates how much effort is being put into refining the institutions in an IT-centric fashion.
According to the firm, the breakdown of expenditures is actually extremely slanted in the direction of three states that account for about $4.6 billion of the total spend projected in the report. These include New York with $1.1 billion, Texas with $1.2 billion and California with $2.3 billion, meaning institutions in all other states combined will be spending roughly $2 billion on IT investments this year.
The most common types of purchases identified in the report were more advanced notebook computers and investments in enterprise networks, with the latter becoming more critical as students and teachers use a wider range of devices. Working down the ladder, IDC also found that K-12 schools in the United States are expected to spend roughly $4.7 billion total on technologies, with the most popular assets being personal computer upgrades and applications.
"IT growth among educational institutions has been spurred by a recovering economy, recovering tax bases and an increase in the number of government education grants," IDC Government Insights Research Director Shawn McCarthy affirmed. "While the drop in PC spending was a bit surprising last year, we expect tablet computers to have a bright future in education, particularly for use in science classes and for one-off training via apps."
Furthermore, the analysts noted that notebook computer spending hit its peak last year and is expected to drop 6.9 percent in 2015, while tablets are rising in purchase volumes to the tune of 8 percent compared to 2014.
With all of the progress taking place in higher education IT, automation will likely play a major role in the optimization of frameworks and user experiences, especially as service delivery and management become more complex alongside innovations and new deployments. BPM and workflow automation will help teachers and students enjoy even stronger capabilities through their chosen devices, all the while reducing the amount of resources needed to oversee the ebb and flow of ITSM.
Furthermore, content management automation and reporting analytics are beginning to play more important roles in higher education, as more institutions focus on leveraging their data in intelligence programs that work to improve students' performances. This can be seen in analytics programs that identify at-risk and special-needs students more quickly, while simultaneously providing insights to guide teachers in the right direction in terms of assisting the pupils.
Higher education institutions that are in need of support in their automation software selection, implementation, management and optimization should always consider working with a trusted provider of robust options, as this can help to ensure strong returns on investment.