Education, like most other sectors of the economy, has grappled with a vast array of new tools and technologies that have emerged over the past 10 or 15 years. Amounting to technological adolescence of sorts, the result is often an organic, ad-hoc patchwork of solutions that does not entirely appreciate nor harness the full potential of these emerging trends.  In this blog series, we will explore how various other industries have adopted cloud-based platforms to lower costs, improve outcomes, and build scalable solutions that benefit both administrators and end-users alike.  The goal is to offer insight into how others have conquered these challenges, to provide the vision where the trends are ultimately headed, and to offer potential solutions that help to avoid the painfully learned lessons others have endured.

Apperson’s own experiences provide some clues. Over the past three or four years, the company has evolved its own technological ecosystem from a resource and capital-intensive one, featuring lots of computer hardware and software programs, to a cloud-based solution that offers a reduction of both staff and capitalized resources, eases scalability, facilitates collaboration and transparency and most importantly, delivers on the promise of churning vast sums of data into readily understood information, which can then be used to make quick and agile decisions to benefit end-users.  These objectives can be realized while lowering costs, making the case for technological adoption all the more compelling.

The process at Apperson began in early 2015 as the company realized the need to host its most essential IT systems, the CRM (customer relationship management) and ERP (enterprise resource planning) as an integrated, cloud-based solution. Aside from the obvious benefits of remote access for a company with many disparate locations and the ability for de-centralized management, the key word is integrated.  The new system, becoming operational in late 2015, seamlessly transferred key business data metrics between various departments…sales, marketing, purchasing, accounting, inventory, finance, planning and production…allowing for a much higher degree of efficiency.  The transparency that resulted also allowed for senior management to make informed decisions more quickly, taking advantage of emerging trends that the data identified.

From a marketing standpoint, the coup de gras occurred several months ago when additional cloud-based systems for marketing efforts were integrated into the existing CRM/ERP infrastructure. This permitted Apperson to leverage all of its existing data to provide timely, relevant content to both our customers and interested prospects.  Rather than merely “selling” our products and solutions, this integrated ecosystem facilitates a conversation to inform and educate, recognizing our audience will conduct their own research to identify the solutions that best fit their needs.  While this concept of 1:1 marketing is not new, our investment in technologies has elevated our abilities to engage educators in a way that is respectful, meaningful and helpful.  Our hope is that this will result in a win-win, benefitting Apperson while providing the educational community with the information needed to make good decisions, and the tools they need to be successful for themselves, the institutions they represent, and ultimately, students.

In upcoming blog posts, I will examine how other industries or companies have adopted cloud-based systems to realize efficiencies, cost savings, scalability, transparency and improved outcomes. The educational community, particularly higher education, stands to reap the rewards from these lessons, as the migration begins from ad-hoc assessment and data-gathering systems to something newer and better.  Apperson aims to facilitate and nurture this industry-wide conversation, supplying both the vision and the tools that lower costs, streamline workflow and enrich student learning outcomes.