SE02EP4 - Digital Transformation in the Education Industry
Hi, everyone. Welcome back to a brand new episode of The Ubrik show, with your host Sheyaf Hashim and Monash. What's up, Monash? Hey, all good, man. Very well today.
How are you today? Good, man. It's a weekend Saturday morning. We are in the office.
We are recording. So, for everyone who has been listening to us on podcast, make sure to subscribe to which all channels who are listening to and if you've received or are seeing us on YouTube or on our website, make sure you subscribe to our mailing list as well. So, Monash let's jump right into today's topic. What are we discussing today? We're going to talk about something that has been quite a topic that we've been working on for a while Yeah. So, we're going to talk about the digital transformation for universities, especially in our region. That is the middle east.
but let's probably start with and talk about digital transformation. Let's look at, what is digital transformation, Sheyaf If you could explain that in a bit, it'd be great. I mean, digital transformation is one of those, you know, like we had web 2.0 discussion it's
one of those buzzwords Like every company, at least in Dubai or internationally, a lot of the companies has come to the scene who say that they're digital transformation specialists but this is again, like one of those terminologies, for each company or for each person. It differs I think so. Right. I think today we'll be talking about digital transformation in education, but the technical definition or how you define digital transformation is basically, turning a manual process or a manual task or whatever, what is manual into a digital format? Okay. there could be a lot of examples, you know, traditionally people used to take attendance
in books and records ledgers. Now they're actually taking records online or there is a software in place. This is like way back. I remember back in the day, it's like 10, 15 years back.
I used to be in the university. They used to have these overhead projectors where you take the print out, it's a transparent print out. I'm sure he must have also seen Yeah you slide it in and you show it on the screen. Now you have actual projectors which have PPT PowerPoint slides.
And then in fact, now you have your smart boards where, that turns into a screen and stuff like that. So well said I mean these are a couple of examples of digital transformation that we've seen. I think, also apart from that is turning manual into digital and also, it's about, converting old digital technologies to newer digital technologies, because I'm sure when those overhead projectors came, it was actually digital transformation at that time. We're specifically speaking about education. I think in a nutshell, that is what it's about transforming the processes, and whatever that is manual or old digital stuff to newer now. Coming to education Monash what, do we see for example, over here? like one of the things that we actually see quite often is there is a lot of digital transformation happening in education right Like what is the biggest example that you see immediately when you look.
around No, definitely you know, smart classrooms are something that we are seeing, there are different other facets of the education industry being transformed. But probably to step back and understand why digital transformation is happening is quite important. Especially at this particular time.
We might be thinking that it's because of the pandemic, people are working from home. Professors are at home. Students are at their homes. And they want a platform to connect. So, these could be some examples, like Google classrooms, Microsoft teams and these are the names that we get to see.
Another big reason why this is happening is because there has been an explosion of technology. For example, five years back, six years back, they used to be servers and things like that. And now we hear about cloud computing. Everything is on cloud now.
Yeah so because of that a lot of reason of transformation is there. And thirdly, and probably one of the main reasons is that there are big giant tech companies like Microsoft, Google, Cisco, all these guys are enabling end users that is education to go into a digital transformation. Yeah so, these are the couple of reasons and examples, I think. My kids have been working, I mean, studying from home and they're in front of Zoom, video conferencing software with a total different experience than they had probably 18 months back.
I mean just to add onto what you're saying to put into perspective. So especially this year in Dubai, let's say 2020 was a year when many universities here, even schools, higher education K-12 many of them invested heavily on brand new campuses. Actually, the investment I'm sure did not happen in 2020. These plans were there from before because there was good, decent growth. So even where we are sitting in Media City, like Knowledge Park is right next door, you can see the beautiful state of art, Google-like campuses popping up. I think based on some things I've noticed, so usually, digital transformation, the people or the areas where they really get all the funding or budget is usually towards everything after marketing enrollments, like for example, the campus.
When you say campus, inside the campus, the infrastructure, the technologies to run. It could be an LMS. It could be for example, the ERP, whatever, and I think there is a very big vacuum or area or the people like say in normal terms, people who don't see any money or any budgets is I believe is usually the marketing and enrollments. Like people usually don't understand, you know, like it's like the chicken and egg, like last season we spoke about. So ideally, people think that you need to have fancy or very good state-of-the-art campuses so that you will actually attract. But the people end of the day, who are actually attracting these students to these state-of-the-art campuses are the marketing and enrollment people.
Marketing people attract them and enrollment people close them and convert them. And even operations for that matter. Yeah, definitely.
I'm sorry, when I say admissions, I am also thinking of operations and even operations in the sense, not just before enrollment, even after enrollment. So what actually happens is every year's budget that if you actually look, I don't know how the budgets are, like we know, I'm sure somebody now who's listening to this at this point, they might be thinking of then finance. They're like, no, marketing takes a lot of money. Yes, marketing does take a lot of money.
Admissions does take, but all this money for digital transformation is limited to spending on ads, spending on creatives, or for example, offline branding or hoarding. I mean, there is money spent, but all this money, they don't get more of it. So what we want to actually outline today is what other areas, for example, how can we actually fast track digital transformation for marketing and admissions? How this transformation is actually going to help you grow? But before... So this transformation, is it going to be beyond the website? Yeah. Your digital ads? Yeah, definitely.
So we're not going to be talking about any of those stuff today. But before we get into it, Monash, you know, something, I think there is a root cause usually, like we discussed, why digital transformation takes place. I think one of the points that you rightly said is it's not because...
Sometimes it's initiated from the university side, from operations, from the leadership. But most of the time it's not initiative from the university side, you have the giants, like you have Microsoft, you have Oracle or SAP or whoever like HubSpot, all of these guys who have a solution to sell. Okay, which might help aid in this digital transformation.
So, we've been through this call, there is a demo and they show this to the university or the K-12 - look this is going to change. This is usually where the start comes, but taking a step back there is an issue that we usually see Monash where a lot of those digital transformation projects fail. Let's talk specifically about education.
Four reasons which we think, the number one reason yeah is I think all stakeholders are not involved. For example, when let's say there is a new project for implementing a CRM or student management system. Now this is a whole system where operations are going to be involved. Marketing is going to be involved. Admission is going to be involved.
But usually the guys who might start this discussion is the IT people. Now, like we said, we'll cut slack to all of these people. It's not like somebody decided we will take, but I think there is no internal process or there is a discussion that happens. Ideally, the right way is all the stakeholders have to come together and then they have to set this roadmap, like, for example, exactly what you need. This is number one reason. And when you don't have all the stakeholders in one place, the project map is never clear.
So you actually don't know what you want to actually achieve end of the day. So we keep saying this, you know, departments are working in silos. So when you don't have these two angles, what do you think? What does this result to? Which is another reason? Another reason what we've kept seeing is when departments are not working together. There's not this whole map where to know how does a student come in and what are the different elements they go through and how do they get enrolled.
If they have a problem, how do they talk? So once this, if this map is missing, you don't know what elements to put in and what elements of this can be actually digitally transformed. And because of this, there's another reason that comes out when you implement a project, you have not put in KPIs. Okay. So, there are no key performance indicator factors to see whether, okay...
Successful or not. Is it going in the right direction or is it not? I think setting KPIs for each department and seeing if this digital transformation is not done for a publicity sake or the namesake, but it's actually moving the needle. These KPIs are very important to be defined. And I think the last reason I think this is also a very, very important reason. Because the first three points that we said stakeholders not being involved, no clear project map and third being KPIs.
The fourth is I think plays a very important role. I think in any industry, right? When we work with B2B guys over two, three years, there is a level of expertise that we built. Because we start understanding the problem. Similarly, when we've been working with education for five, six years, there are some things that we know, some pain points, which are very unique to education. And when you have this kind of knowledge and any project for that matter, even when you build a website for a university versus building a website for a restaurant is completely different because the behavior of people, the amount of time they're going to spend. So, I think the number four reason is that the partner that you choose to actually implement this is not experienced with education.
So, this is I think this is not just for digital transformation, even if you are running ads. When we have this discussion with Mkt4Edu, one of the main points is the team of 30, around 60 people who are set in Brazil in past 10 years, 15 years, all they've been working on is education clients. Even internally in our team Ubrik, for example, our PPC guys in the past 10 years, the only thing, 2-3 of them have only been like they might've spent like millions of ad money for optimizing and understanding.
Because we've run campaigns for real estate. We've run campaigns for automotive. We've run campaigns for education. But there is an understanding of what kind... So, the reason number four is the partner that you select.
And this usually is not just for education. There are a lot of examples. If you look a lot of ERP digital transformation projects that have failed purely because the partner does not understand industry. Once you summarize this, put together another important reason that what we've seen good transmission happening is when there is a top-down approach, because there are across departments that are coming into place and there are multiple KPIs being set. And a lot of these KPIs that overlap two different functions. Yeah.
It could be admissions and operations, student affairs and marketing, things like that. To have the head of the business, it could be a CEO, it could be the Dean, these people getting involved and facilitating this through the company is very important. Because we've seen example, Sheyaf, we have heard IT people reach out to us. Yeah, a lot of times.
A lot of times. And they are the people who are driving the so-called digital transformation initiative. Yes, it's an IT project. There is technology involved, but the users, the stakeholders are not them.
And because they are not the stakeholders, to get another department head, for example, to get the admissions head, to make sure that they change a set of standard operating procedures, it's very difficult for the IT to enable. So, having the head of the business and having the decision top down fundamentally changes or makes or breaks the whole transformation. The whole thing looks different. So now let's see. Now let's move on, we've said, you know, why things don't work out and what does digital transformation mean. Now, let's take one aspect of digital transformation, specifically what we've been focusing on is digital transformation for your marketing admissions, and operations, let's say.
Now, if a university was to embark on this journey. I mean, we've detailed like a five-step process, let's say which we think I'm sure that could be three, or it could be four, it could be seven steps, but this is the basic areas that we see. If universities can actually follow or education K-12 anybody in the industry, if they follow, might be a bit more successful.
Monash, why don't you tell me, for example, what is the first step if somebody is actually going to jump into this bandwagon of digital transformation for marketing and admissions. Yeah, I mean, the first is always to go back to the drawing board. Get these at least key stakeholders of departments come together and put a map of the student journey. So, from being a prospect, who's a potential student that who can come to the university and then how they would go through different departments. And for example, how do they go to the website and fill up a form, after they fill up a form, who gives them a call? How many times would they give them a call? Once they give them a call and they find it as good, would they send them more information, more forms to fill, and then it goes to admissions. The person might become a student.
How does the finance work? This is a huge journey. And I've just now probably taken a small portion of the journey. If these three, four departments and probably representatives of the departments can come to a table like this and map this on pen and paper.
Yeah, in literally pen and paper and then probably put it into flow charts into a digital format. But if that can be done, that is step number one for a successful digital transformation. So you've mapped your journey and that is step number one. Yeah. And adding onto this as well, Monash, even if this even is for a digital transformation project, right? I think many universities could really, or education institutes could really benefit from this. Because in one of my experiences, I had a client hat I was working with, you know about one of the nurseries that I was working with.
So these guys had very less budget, and one of the things we actually did working with the head of the academics person who was handling sales, we only did this. If you remember this example where we put this whole process in place and without even bringing any extra budget. This actually resulted in actually more enrollments. Basically, optimizing the process. Yeah, because a lot of wastage happens where, you know, once somebody is called, second time they're not called.
The sales agent or the admission person is not doing this purposefully. Like, you know, we discussed this in another episode where you have to call a hundred people a day. It's close to impossible to actually recollect.
If even just imagine you're working on top of an excel sheet. And this is also a case where many people, leads come, it's an excel sheet. Okay I called, but not answering, not interested. Boom.
Go ahead. So... And then this basically brings us to step number two, once you have your complete journey mapped out. Each touch point from if what happens in the come to enroll, what happens if they come and don't enroll. Even though those. Exactly.
Yeah. So, once that is done, then you are in the shopping mode. You go to different solutions and see, okay, which solution would solve this portion of the problem, which solution would solve this portion of the problem.
And what is the budget that I have available. So based on that, you look at different systems and see which fits closest to what I have. Definitely, it's very improbable that you'll have a system that'll do everything at one place. Yeah, so we've had multiple examples talking to HubSpot, talking to Zoho, talking to other, such, you know, LeadSquare and all these places where we're seeing, okay there is a process now in place. There's a map in place which portion can be done by whom.
Yeah. And I think this is also a very big, we like to call it a dilemma, which we'll cover in an episode dedicated to this. We keep mentioning this that universities or education, higher education, K12, everybody tries to find one platform or one solution. Basically once piece of software or technology that can handle the whole journey.
At least in our experience till now we have not come across. If anybody's listening and they've come across, we would love to know. But what like Monash said is when you have the whole journey, there is at least two pieces of software going to be involved here. One is from the sales to marketing to admissions. Then you have the student management because I've seen requirement sheets, which has all of sales and marketing admission, which has LMS, which has finance.
I think honestly saying, maybe if somebody develops something like it'd be good, but honestly, seeing the whole gamut is not covered. And that in fact it might be covered in some software, but it might be for namesake. You cannot use that function to its fullest. And this comes to our step number three it's to understand, yes, one software, one system can not solve the problem. You might have two, you've already invested in a couple of them.
Yeah. So you might have an accounting system... You mean existing systems. Existing systems. Yeah, the step number three is to find out if you bring a new system in how well can it integrate? Yeah. And Sheyaf tell us how important this is.
Like, you know, imagine I'm bringing a sales and marketing system. Tell us how important or how eye-opening was it when you started integrating with different systems? Yeah. So what happens usually is again this everything goes back to that whole chart or your whole journey while you are in this journey itself you need to mark currently what all existing systems are going to take a piece of that process. Okay so the most common area that we see when integration needs to happen is after sales and marketing, the moment somebody is given an offer.
Let's say that when somebody is interested, a student is interested in enrolling with the university, they go to another sysetm. From there, for example, their journey starts to becoming a student or whatever. So, the sales and marketing system needs to talk to each other, like the sales and marketing or the ERP or your admission management, whatever needs to start talking. So, what happens is the moment that student becomes a paid student, like the moment the student pays the first enrollment or whatever fee, because this is going to be a reflected on the finance system. So that is ideally, I'm just giving an example, that needs to trigger to the sales and marketing system saying, okay, this person has paid, has become a student which updates the status in your marketing and sales platform saying, okay, one person has enrolled. Because of different activities.
So, I think it is very important, and again, so this all comes back to, again, going back to 0.2, when you're looking to put a good system in place, go for systems that are... See, we are in Dubai, and there are a lot of companies from all around the world from Asia, different countries, be it India... India is a very good example. There are a lot of providers, but most of these providers, for example, this is what the IT guys, when they come, they don't have open APIs or they don't, their software is not designed to openly integrate. And very big advice also is don't try to, you know, people have off the shelf ready-made products, which are just one year old.
Always go for tried and tested products or software. For example, we always love to give an example of HubSpot, let's say. These guys have been around for long and in the past five years, they keep developing their product, like what you buy now within one year you might have like two or three other functionalities, which you needed. Like they constantly keep updating.
Like we see some universities over here who have some products taken off the shelf from a random company and they're just stuck with that. They cannot integrate. So, integration definitely is step three, setting up the platform or whatever so that you can connect because this is going to help you get the maximum insight. Because end of the day, this whole activity has to give you insights so that he can actually make better judgments.
And I think this brings us to step number four, which is the biggest rock that you need to actually move. So, till now you've used... This is what makes and breaks, Monash.
Yeah, this is what actually makes and breaks. That is your people. Till now you've actually put a task force together. You've mapped the process.
You've selected the software. Next thing, now you need to ensure that this change is implemented within the organization. Yeah.
This is where telling people that, you know, what this is going to help their job and be more efficient. This is going to make sure that your customers or your stakeholders are going to have a much more personalized experience. Your KPIs can be achieved with much less of effort.
All these other motivational factors that you have to bring in. Yeah. And sometimes there's also putting a strict procedure in place putting playbooks in place. And ample training for people. So this is again, step number four is your biggest rock.
That is your people. So, making sure these people are on board trained and in place. I mean, it's just like buying a super sophisticated car. Yeah.
Let's say you bought a Skyline GTR or a Ferrari. So, the person who has been driving a Corolla or let's say whatever normal car, and you give them a Ferrari, if you don't teach them how to actually use the car properly, the functionalities, all the automations, because a lot of these cars have, I think Volva is a better example. Let's say, too much of functionalities, like it has smart cruise control. It has lane diction. It has autonomous driving, but if you don't train the person to actually use... Like I'm driving, let's say a normal 10 year old car and you give me a Tesla and nobody tells me about it has an automatic autonomous driving because I was not trained.
So, what Monash is getting to, I think this is one of the main issues. Many universities have got the first point, correct? Second point correct and also the third. But this fourth point is where it broke. They've not trained the people to use. So, when you don't train, everybody has a problem with change even internally at Ubrik, for example, when you bring a new system, it is only as successful as how many people use it.
So, end of the year, what happens is when people don't use it, the finances says there has not been any benefit to this. It has not optimized anything. One is training and second one Monash is creating playbooks so people can always change.
But once you do this training, you create these playbooks then even no matter whoever comes, right, it's very easy for them to actually just come on board. And when you also train and have playbooks, I think it's also easy because these systems allow to optimize the process themselves. So, the version one of the chart that you guys created, the whole journey after three months you understand you go back and look into like a lot of areas where you can cut the whole process short. So I think definitely the step number four is very important. And now let's say, I think Monash, now you have the four core steps.
I think if any university reaches till these four steps, I think this applies not just let's say education, even for people out of education, this is the same steps that can look at. And what is the last step, for example? Last step is something that we've been hearing a lot of buzz words, like you've been mentioning. We've been creating as well. We've been creating some things around it.
It's about data. Yeah, it's about looking at the flow that is happening in your system. Yeah, and there are how many processes, which you can actually automate today.
So, today you have your machine learning algorithms, you have your intelligent or AI algorithms available at disposal, again from big companies like IBM, Amazon, or Google. So today, for example, to recognize this page and to understand what are the characters on it and how to make a decision on it need not be developed by an IT department. It is already developed. It's an API that I can send this page to them. It'll tell you know what this means so-and-so and so action should be taken.
This is available. This can only be done once your first four steps are done. You already have a process. Now you look at the process once again and see which place am I spending a lot of time and how I can automate that. So that is step number five, that is to leverage your AI and machine learning. I mean, just adding to it as well, one is definitely when you have data, for example, when you have data of five years, or let's say, once you reach from step one to step five and you've gone through three, four months of intake and you have all this data.
Now, there is something called leads scoring, for example, it's a very small example. If you have the right kind of data, you can actually look at last years' enrollments or this past five months' enrollments, and look at a lot of patterns. And what this will help you do is it'll help your admissions team, your ads, you can stop spending money on the type of ads, the kind of targeting, the kind of messaging you can just cut down. And this might actually help you save like 20 to 30% of your budgets. Second thing is, again, if you start looking at the data, you see patterns like for example, using IBM watson, it can actually crunch through all this data and actually tell, you know what, start talking to people like these, because last one year, two year, all your enrollments came, let's say, from international students. They came from XYZ countries with XYZ kind of behaviors, but one of the things, okay now, the challenge with this is many people today they're trying to skip.
Skip a beat. Like for example, without having step one, step two, step three, step four, everybody's trying to go for web 3.0, where they want to directly jump into AI and ML. I'm not saying it's impossible, but when you don't have a solid foundation in place, I mean all this automation, machine learning, everything is actually built on this data as well. And I think the last step, we discussed all these five steps.
Now, there is one additional point as well. If you're looking at digital transformation for admissions marketing, and even for operations, now this is something people can actually embark on standalone as well. And might actually, get the university some brownie points as well as in something which is very unique. We are talking about over here is a chatbot. I think chatbots are not just for education but for everybody. If you actually look online currently we are building some as well for some universities over here.
It's amazing, like for example, the amount of work 5 to 10 people can actually do, you can actually have in three to four months you can have one AI-powered chatbot actually do the same kind of work. Basically, if you have that step one in place, if you have the whole chart in place, you can actually take and implement this whole thing via let's say admission assistant. The first discussion is done by your call center agent. The rest of the discussion, the sales or admission assistant can actually give them every information that is required.
The same sales chatbot can be on your website as well. On your WhatsApp, on your Facebook Messenger. Basically, once you have the bot, you can actually integrate it with anything. You can integrate it with your ERP system or your CRM platform. And apart from that, even how operations day to day, even for student affiars.
Now, many universities have this thing students have to go online, they have to request for a new student ID, or they have to apply for a certificate or something, you know, insurance, whatever. There is a process. So students can actually just go in and interact with this bot hype. Okay, what is your bot last? What is your name? What is your registration number or what is your unique ID? Okay, what can I do for you today? Okay. I need a new student card. I need a new library card.
I need a new fitness card. I need some letter, internship, something like this. So, I mean, this is definitely something that we can actually look into as well.
Yeah, and so this is a practical example of using so-called machine learning and artificial intelligence, because you already have a system in place, or you have a process in place. You know, if there is a student card replacement that has to be done, there are these three departments that have to get signed off, et cetera, et cetera. So, that is already in paper. And then you can automate it. Yeah.
So, this is definitely like Sheyaf was mentioning, these are something that you can practically do today and get a lot of advantage. So, I think Monash overall, just you know, wrapping up the topic. So, you know, we are talking about this whole digital transformation and we focused on the marketing and admission and all these areas.
In a nutshell, right? To the listeners or to the viewers, for example, what we want to try and drive the idea behind us, end of the day digital transformation, I think the end goal is very simple. If you're in education or higher education or in education business, it has to actually increase our enrollment. Simple, like we say, bottom line and for education, the main bottom line is your enrollment has to increase and your cost of acquisition has to decrease.
Of a student. Yeah, literally cost of acquisition, cost of customer. What you have to call it has to actually increase.
And the cherry on the topping apart from two of these things is your enrollments increased and cost decreases. You need to have enough insights so that you can actually take better decisions for next intakes. So, this is the main idea of digital transformation. Definitely awards will come and all this stuff will actually come, but end of the day something functional. So, this is the main idea that we're trying to point at. I think it was a bit lengthy, but a lot of things were discussed and hopefully we'll see you guys in the next episode, but make sure, you guys let us know what you think.
You can reach out to me, to Monash, you know, you can email us. We are there on LinkedIn. We'd love to hear you if you have some experience, successful implementation, failures, whatever, you know, we would love to be part of the discussion. So, with that, we'll see you in the next episode until then take care guys. Have a lovely week. Bye bye.