Last week the government announced its delayed digital transformation strategy, setting out plans to deliver ‘digital by default’ services more efficiently across the public sector by 2020. By its own admission, “Government has been slow to use the transformative potential of digital technology to change the way it does business. It is at a double disadvantage, therefore: big and slow.”
Thankfully, FE institutions in general are ahead of the government when it comes to adoption of digital technologies. However, the one area notable for its lack of uptake is that of digital admissions. Taking the five pillars of the government’s digital transformation strategy below, we’ve applied them to a typical Further Education’s admissions model to see how ‘digital by default’ would affect their service:
1. Create shared platforms, components and reusable business capabilities to reducing duplication and cost, therefore increasing efficiency.
Always a topic for FE providers where funding pressures require ever-leaner operations. Digital admissions approaches reduce the amount of resource required to move prospective students from enquiry to enrolment, eliminating costly and slow manual data input processes as well as print and postal costs associated with paper-based approaches.
2. Make better use of data by ensuring that data is properly managed, protected and (where non-sensitive) made available and shared effectively to accelerate transformation and retain confidence in our use of data.
Data is the driver behind the end-to-end digital admissions process. Ensuring all data is captured in a single system enables the provider to easily maintain its integrity and just as importantly gives marketing, admissions and senior managers the business intelligence to optimise the admissions process.
3. Business transformation: developing end-to-end services that meet the needs of users across all channels, in coordination with a fundamental rethink of back-office operations.
Creating an end-to-end digital admissions process enables providers to communicate with prospective students using platforms relevant to their expectations and to engage with students throughout their journey to, and including, enrolment.
4. Grow the right people, culture and skills: continuing to ensure that we have the right people, with the right skills and training, employed in the right place working in the right way.
Effective deployment of resource is enhanced as personnel from marketing, admissions and management spend less time querying or processing admissions data, and more time on value-adding tasks. Ultimately this will lead to more skilled and effective staff, focused on converting more enquiries to enrolment and delivering quality services.
5. Build better tools, processes and governance: transformation to become an organisation that is digital by default.
Digital admissions should mean more than just an online application page; it should represent a transformation in how the organisation manages and communicates with its prospective students (now consumers of education), and become a case of ‘how good can we make digital admissions for our students’ rather than a case of ‘when should we adopt digital admissions?’.