Jim Bowes is the CEO and co-founder of Manifesto – the award winning digital agency specialising in Agile consultancy, technology, content and strategic user experience design, and set up the London-based business in 2011.
Digital disruption is rapidly changing the services that organisations offer and the ways in which individuals access information. The impact that these developments are having on the education sector recently prompted a research report entitled ‘Digital Transformation in Higher Education’, conducted by the Digital Clarity Group, to explore how this sector is responding to the digital push. CEO and co-founder of Manifesto, Jim Bowes, examines the current level of digital use in education, what the sector needs to embrace and its influence on future generations
According to the report, education institutions both in the UK and US aspire to deliver a more advanced digital experience; through advanced application of digital content, technologies and teaching practices. Web managers, content strategists, marketers and leaders within education have all acknowledged the need to develop this area further, yet often find that significant cultural and technological obstacles are preventing them from doing so.
Large volumes of content, multiple websites and resource constraints appear to be the most common stumbling blocks, but the exact reasons behind this slow progress are less important than the consequences. By failing to embrace the digital revolution, many institutions are struggling to create and manage the vast amount of material and information that is growing by the day.
Even where change is occurring, institutions often introduce a substantial approach to enhancing their digital capabilities. For example, whilst those working on marketing projects, content management and web design may be taking small steps forward, these projects often have no real connection to a broader digital overhaul. At the other end of the scale, digital leaders from outside the academic sector are increasingly acting as catalysts for change by coming in and dramatically disrupting outdated practices; albeit hampered by limited resources and budget constraints.
The ‘Digital Transformation in Higher Education’ report also confirmed that the ability to demonstrate digital capabilities has become a key competitive advantage for education institutions, with 85 per cent of secondary school students claiming that how well an institution embraces innovation is an important factor in their decision on where to study.
The good news for organisations in the education sector is that the technology landscape is maturing rapidly, meaning that institutions now have a variety of options when it comes to advancing their digital capabilities. Technology providers and integrators will have a key part to play in turning this digital vision into reality; as they have the robust software and digital expertise needed to advise on the best way to achieve an organisation’s digital goals.
Before these changes can begin to take place, however, it is essential that today’s digital leaders are ready, willing and able to take a fundamental role in education institutions – first by establishing a strong vision, and then by driving transformation from the top down. The education sector is currently lagging behind many others when it comes to establishing executive roles that oversee digital initiatives. In order to remain competitive, institutions will need to empower digital experts to align their organisation’s needs, aspirations and wider business strategy with a solid roadmap of ongoing developments.