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Higher Education Leaders Reveal 20 ID Management Technology Uses to Enhance Campus Efficiencies, Experiences

7/26/2022 9:00:00 AM

The combination of greater savings, efficiencies and engagement has long been the holy grail of higher education institutions. As budgets shrink, staff shortages and burnout grow pervasive. Higher ed leaders must also find ways to cater to growing student demand for the “Amazon” experience—reflecting the convenience and personalization they enjoy from today’s consumer retail and media platforms.

How does a college or university get there? Integrating technologies to increase their capabilities is a good start. With that in mind, institutions are using ID management technologies in unconventional ways. No longer limited to plastic ID cards, the same technology that helps your organization manage staff and student credentials can also be leveraged for numerous other uses, including automating self-service functions, tracking engagement and financial trends, and enabling administrators to manage campus resources remotely.

Survey: ID management use cases now employed at surveyed institutions

In March 2022, TouchNet and Higher Ed Dive’s studioID surveyed 150 higher education leaders on how their institution is employing ID management technology. Most respondents are finance or C-suite executives employed by four-year colleges and universities.

Use cases that are currently active or being implemented at surveyed institutions include the following:

It’s worth noting that more than half (52%) of survey respondents said such enhancements can be compelling advantages in driving enrollment, and 35% said they believed the technology could help them attract and retain skilled faculty and staff.

Respondents also indicated their organizations struggle to make data-driven decisions, and the insights they could glean from ID management technology integrations could expose gaps and opportunities that might have remained hidden otherwise. Currently, 63% of respondents said technology systems and their data were not well-integrated across departments. Given the difficulty in accessing broken or incomplete data, 50% said that business, financial and operational decisions at their institutions hinge largely on instinct, anecdotal evidence, personal experiences, preferences or peer recommendations.

Looking ahead, only 29% of surveyed leaders think their institutions can remain competitive without upgrading or replacing ID management technologies in the next three years.

Taking the next step with ID management technology

Dr. Natalie Milman, director of the Educational Technology Leadership Program at The George Washington University’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development, sees growing investment in technology to improve all aspects of the student life cycle, though figuring out where to start can be paralyzing. “One challenge is that many institutions have legacy systems, so the big question is what to invest in and how legacy systems fit with everything else,” she says.

Assessing existing systems and exploring expanded capabilities and different use cases is a wise first step, says Adam McDonald, president of TouchNet. “Often, we use 20% of technology functionality and don’t realize the 80% that’s sitting there,” he explains.

To that end, McDonald advises integrating what you can today—getting systems to “talk” to one another—and then begin layering new technologies and capabilities as your budget allows and your campus’s needs evolve. When adding new technologies, look for cloud-based systems that facilitate integration and remote management, he adds. Avoid proprietary platforms as they’re difficult to support, expensive to customize, and grow obsolete quickly.

Three considerations can help you clarify priorities or identify a pilot project:

  • Examine high-transaction areas on your campus. What sources of friction, confusion, delays or complaints can you eliminate for smoother experiences?

  • What sequential, repetitive tasks consume considerable staff time? What impact could automating just one or two of those tasks have in the coming weeks?

  • What FAQs or support inquiries generate high call volumes?

Beyond the business case for improving ID management technology, investing in integrations and solutions that improve the campus experience is a winning strategy. “The students you’re working to attract and retain aren’t just tech savvy, they’re tech-dependent, meaning they can’t or won’t navigate the world without their smart devices,” McDonald says. “Want to persuade students that you’re the forward-thinking, student-centric institution you claim to be? Meet their need for tech-enabled, personalized service and access via their mobile device.