Are Indian Institutes and Universities Ready for Digital Transformation?



Digital transformation is transforming the way in which organizations operate and function. It is introducing unprecedented changes in how to generate brand awareness and reach out to new markets, as well as streamlining business processes.

Today, many industries are beginning to adapt to the digital era. And, Higher Education institutions cannot lag behind if the country has to grow.

This blog delves into some of the important benefits of digital transformation for Higher Education organizations. The blog content also talks about choosing the right approach with a right attitude to understand implementation issues so that you do not miss out on the good practices to overcome these impediments.

Why digital Transformation is a need of the hour for Academia?

Digital transformation is a valuable step towards improving efficiency and effectiveness of various business functions such as HR, Operations, Finance, and Marketing etc. It also makes the whole system more accountable by continuous measurement of impact created by these functional areas.

Automation is the key for achieving customer satisfaction today. It is more important in education sector because it caters to an audience which is more tech savvy than other segments of the market.

Through digitalization, educational institutions can get new ways to engage with their potential students. Not only this, students’ course delivery system, evaluation etc. can all be improved through digital interventions.

Digital transformation has the potential to bring more opportunities for admission marketing teams in colleges and universities to harness their true potential. They can get valuable data insights in just click of a button. A few other benefits that digital transformation brings is efficient handling of education processes.

As per the online reports it is estimated that “worldwide spending on the technologies and services that enable digital transformation will reach almost $2 trillion in 2022”. This means that in days to come more and more organizations will allocate revenue to implement their digital strategies. And academic institutions should not lack behind.

Digitalization is going to be an essential element to stay ahead of the competition curve. Digital transformation is being rapidly recognised as a sustainable strategy for long-term growth of academic institutions.

With growing popularity of advance technological gadgets such as smartphones, tablets etc., students of the present day expect colleges and universities to use technology in their institutional processes including teaching and learning.

Although, incorporating technology at every level of functioning can be a bit challenging to achieve for educational institutes due to financial constraints but they can still modernize some of the critical areas such as admissions, examination and teaching etc.

Digital Transformation in Indian Higher Education – Challenges and Future Potential Opportunities

With increasing competition in the education sphere, if educational institutions have to thrive, then undoubtedly digital will be a big part of the answer.

One big thing that digital transformation has achieved is data analytics. Educational institutes are quickly realizing its critical importance to accelerate decision making. Digital delivery, is allowing institutions to serve existing students better while also reaching new markets.

With the help of technology, Institutes are creating digital courseware and other educational materials. This transformation is making the whole learning experience personalized and more interactive. Mobile applications are making education services more accessible to even remote learners. It is giving them new opportunities to build their future.

For digital transformation in higher education, investments must be made to provide infrastructural facilities and necessary equipment. However, the challenge in achieving this transformation are many. First of all, there is lack of expertise to create a robust architecture for infrastructure upgradation. Deployment of right technology also requires better understanding and correct assessment of the requirements.

But the biggest challenge to overcome in academic institutions is resistance towards adoption of technology.. This is more so because of their continuing preference for traditional way of functioning rather than anything else. However, if higher education is to grow and reach out to every needy student then it has to embrace digital transformation with an open mind-set. It must become more willing to think beyond conventional methods of teaching and research.

In today’s times your potential customers expect you to provide 24/7 customer support. Handling queries of potential applicants beyond office hours is a big challenge forcolleges and universities. But this concern can be mitigated with the use of Chabot technology or digital assistant. These resources are there for you 24/7 to enhance user experience when it comes to customer relationship management.

Similarly, several students are hooked online all the time. Why not provide them digital tools to make their learning experience more interesting, and engaging and at the same time outcome based. In this way institutions can increase the scope of classroom learning also. Many faculty extend their support to students after working hours for doubt clearing etc. Digital technologies can help them do so online from home thereby saving lot of valuable time and effort.

If utilized intelligently, digital transformation will also result in innovations in pedagogy. It could build virtual classrooms and create online communities ready to engage in thought provoking interactions among themselves. But at the same time, it is also important to see that digital transformation doesn’t wither away the emotional connect between the instructors and classmates which is very important for learning to take place and grow.

Active participation of all stakeholders is very crucial in an academic engagement. Passive involvement can hamper the very objectives of digital transformation. So, if higher educational institutes want to advance in the future, they need to leverage benefits of digital technologies to enhance their effectiveness and outreach.

Digital transformation in academia should not just involve automating paper work. The change has to be more profound in increasing the user experience of the overall teaching-learning process.

What advantages or potential opportunities can digital transformation bring to University or College?

1. Enhance decision-making capabilities of educational institutions  

Digital transformation is powered by a very strong analytical framework. Thus, the advance analysis it provides is very useful in effective decision-making process. It has tremendous potential to improve planning and execution of admission marketing initiatives, augment course delivery, and support in institutional brand building.

2. Digital interactions with students are more engaging and effective

The digitalization process facilitates deep engagement between the teachers and students. It allows the faculty to design and align curriculum plan to the need of every student.

What’s more interesting is that, students are no longer passive recipients of information but are able to immerse themselves in the learning process more deeply. Students can review videos, reading material, and theoretical case studies. The teacher can evaluate contents directly on the platform and provide feedback more effectively. Students can also learn new content at home via digital platforms.

3. Optimal utilization of resources

Better communication between teachers and students using digital technologies can generate better teaching learning outcomes. Institutions can do better data management with digitalization. Also, digital adoption can improve overall efficiency and productivity of faculty and staff.

4. Reduce teaching workload to focus on research and development activities  

The digital transformation of higher education can interestingly improve research output of academic institutions by reducing workload of faculty. By automating key institutional processes, colleges and universities can give space to faculty for producing quality research work.

Digital integration is also closely linked to improved learning as it enables adoption of innovative techniques for making classroom experience more profound.

5. Improve academic evaluation and learning

These new technologies help to reinforce the efficiency of evaluation process by developing a more objective assessment system. Digital tracking of performance of each and every student can enable teachers to customize teaching methodology according to the progress and ability of students.

Summary of Main Points

The main points that digital transformation in academia intends to improve are:

Automate academic, operational and administrative processes that consume lot of institutional resources including financials, ensure data privacy in key departments such as examination and admissions, automate admission marketing and make it more measurable and accountable, and finally, present analysis to improve decision making and increase competitiveness.

Useful steps to ensure smooth transition of digital transformation in academia

Once your educational establishment has decided to go for digital transformation, the first and foremost thing to follow is identification of key areas that need digital intervention for improving efficiency and effectives.

Next define what objectives the technological applications need to achieve. It is the basis for all the improvements your college or university aims to bring. Your education establishment must clearly know about the changes it wishes to bring for achieving excellence.

Thereafter, identification of right vendors will be another crucial step for successful deployment of digital tools and applications. Here it is important to note that you may have to explore different vendors for different areas of implementation. Usually, such vendors do not have ready made products but can develop digital solutions based on customized need. Usually, access to research information is paid. However, sometimes executive summaries are released, or the results are published months after the initial publication.

Evaluate market reputation and performance of 2-3 vendors. Decide whether the solution needs to be SMAC (Social, Mobile, Analytics, Cloud). The latest trend in achieving digital transformation is by building a range of robust social networks, convergence with mobile applications, analysis tools for better data management, and the cloud.

However, keep in mind that each academic entity will have its own specific need and objective for entering into the digital world. Thus, the educational establishment needs to be clear about whether it needs the digital functionality for improving advertising ROI or for improving student engagement or for both because each intervention will have cost attached to it.

Testing of available options in the market should is a good practice before going live with digital. It will provide useful insights into the products capability in achieving the objectives laid for it. Ideally it would be best to take feedback from some of its existing clients before finalizing a vendor. This will help in gaining confidence for making the right investment.

By ensuring the above mentioned tips, it will not be difficult for a higher education institution to optimize internal administrative processes with technology. It is essential for its leadership to understand clearly why it needs to do this, what are the capabilities available and objectives, and the long-term benefits of digital expansion.

Final Word 

Higher education institutions in India are undergoing a radical transformation. With increasing emphasis of the government on digitalization of education, colleges and universities are ready to explore the benefits of technology in aiding teaching learning.

A well crafted digital transformation strategy can help academia consolidate its future growth trajectory. The support of technology to manage different areas of their business can provide benefit of cost saving, reduce administration time, help control flow of Information, improve relationship with students, improve course delivery mechanism and  optimize links between various academic areas.

But nothing can be achieved without having the right mind set to embrace change. Educational leaders and government agencies will have to foster systems and practices very much needed to embrace change management for moving ahead in this direction.