Digital Transformation Comes to a University Near You

Alexandra Levit

(This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.)

Guest post by Alexandra Levit for Water Cooler Wisdom and LinkedIn Pulse

A recent survey of 600 American and European IT decision-makers done by my partner Xerox shows that the time to go fully digital is now, but most organizations still aren’t ready.

Survey respondents predicted an average of only nine percent of key business and office processes will run on paper in the next two years, but more than half admitted that their organizations’ processes are still largely paper-based today, and about a third are still communicating via paper rather than via email or social channels.

A centerpiece of digital transformation, automation, is a bit further along. Three-quarters of respondents said they already have identified areas for automation. Unfortunately, Xerox’s report also identified some basics that organizations will have to address before automation and digital workflows can become a reality in key business functions.

For instance, 40 percent of respondents have not yet implemented solutions for the mobile workforce and 45 percent have not yet incorporated or improved predictive analysis through the effective use of big data.

College administration: Fraught with complexity and ripe for innovation

If any type of organization could benefit from digital transformation, it’s the university. “From the tens of thousands of applications that institutions receive each year, to the vast number of student records they must maintain for past and present students, universities are responsible for a massive amount of documents,” said Michael Kortan, vice president of workflow automation for Xerox in a recent blog post. “The manual, paper-based processes that dominate universities stand in stark contrast to the increasingly fast-paced, digital world in which students live.”

But, in a move that would surprise many who are accustomed to colleges being behind the digital eight ball, some institutions are leading the charge to transform repetitive, error-prone, and tedious tasks into automated and far more accurate digitized processes that save time, productivity, and trees!

Today’s students don’t want to wait, and new technology ensures they don’t have to

Solutions vary, but among them are Xerox Workflow Automation Solution for Admissions Processing, which automates paper processes to eliminate delays allowing admissions offices to process applications and get acceptance letters back to selected applicants quickly; Xerox Workflow Automation Solution for Financial Aid, which automates the compilation and delivery of financial aid packages; and Xerox Workflow Automation Solution for Registrar Processing, which eases the administrative burden on registrar staffers as they help students quickly change courses, switch majors, and seek academic guidance.

What else is being automated? The better question is, what isn’t? Student counseling, billing, transcripting, and athletic participation are presently being targeted for greater efficiency and quality of service. The California State University at Fullerton, for example, has ramped up its technology use over the last several years, moving services into the cloud so that they’re available to everyone in a central location and automating many processes ahead of other schools.

Cal State uses digital transformation to rocket ahead of other schools (and companies!)

Cal State deployed iPad tablets to faculty, management, and some staff and uses a Xerox solution that facilitates direct and secure print-on-demand from mobile devices to machines across campus. This combined with automated scanning and digital distribution of documents has reduced the school’s paper costs by an estimated $250,000. In addition to saving money, Cal State can now brag about greater environmental sustainability, technological innovation, and process transparency.

Removing paper from the equation was probably daunting for Cal State at first. But after efforts to embrace its students’ digital existence that definitely paid off, the university could apparently show American companies a thing or two!

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