The reality is therefore that a business' strategy can only move as fast as this weakest link in the chain.
In my experience, this rigidity is a reality for far too many HEIs. Given this backdrop, it is critical that these institutions understand how technology can easily combat these dangers. This may well be a throw-back to the sector's aversion towards commercialisation, where Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems in particular were perceived to only be deployed by big business who have the financial and technical ability.
I would argue, however, that technology must be on the agenda for discussion with senior executives of a company, no matter what industry. By identifying how modern software platforms can build an infrastructure that is able to scale and adapt to change, it is this foundation that is the greatest opportunity for HEIs to thrive as we meet current and future challenges.
In their publication "Reengineering the Corporation: A Manifesto for Business Revolution", Michael Hammer and James Champy assert that an IT project will deliver business benefit even if the technology is not used. Existing business processes are reviewed and inefficiencies are exposed, even those resistant to change begin to alter their inner dialogue - this in itself could wake up many institutions that have been operating on legacy systems for an extended amount of time.
Once in place, modern technology that joins valuable data across organisations and promotes best practice across business processes, will allow an education institution to divert funds away from administering the back-office and towards funding better faculties and research facilities.
By implementing 'joined-up', nimble systems, any institution is far better placed to succeed on this journey towards focusing on its students and faculty, instead of worrying about the IT costs. Modern technology will help Vice Chancellors, Finance Directors and Chief Operating Officers review their mission statements and strategies based upon easily accessible real-time and accurate data. Once a course is plotted, the University will be light-of-foot to follow a new strategic course without the burden of expensive, inefficient and sluggish systems that belong in another time.
Chua Weng Foo is Chief Executive Officer, UNIT4 Asia Pacific.
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