Today, higher education is at a pivotal moment. Schools and universities across the region and globally, are in the middle of a significant shift in educational models, delivering both unique learning models and student campus experiences through digital transformation. In today’s digital world, students are seeking an education that will prepare them for a quick, seamless transition into a career.

Raghav Koorichh, director: merchandising at Dell Technologies META

As a result, IT infrastructure has also changed drastically. It’s no longer just about managing hardware or software – IT systems must deliver the technology and services that enable agility, efficiency and learning innovation to support student outcomes and transform IT to provide more efficient services. Students are picking tech-savvy colleges and workplaces that can advance their learning while offering them a compelling degree track. To foster student success, institutions are also seeking fresh learning approaches that reinvigorate classrooms through immersive teaching methodologies that increase collaboration and student engagement.

But while there’s a lot of progress that’s been made, achieving effective digital transformation is difficult for many higher education institutions because they face an ever-increasing list of barriers. These include factors such as stagnant or diminishing budgets, decentralized computing and weak network security.


The drive to transform higher education

Real innovation on campus happens through digital transformation – when higher education institutions reinvent themselves and realize their digital future by deploying modern technologies across their entire organisation. For colleges and universities, the results of this transformation are workforce ready students and alumni, transformative and engaging faculty, and innovative research capacity.

Higher education IT leaders today want to improve student and institutional success through IT initiatives that include bringing digital transformation to their campus experience. How can they get there?

Connected campus: To better engage students in the classroom, the use of interactive, collaborative, connected technologies, coupled with innovative teaching practices can transform learning environments. These products include large-format displays, projectors, interactive displays, PCs, monitors, workstations and wireless solutions – technologies that support collaboration between students and faculty and develop critical thinking and workforce readiness skills. In addition, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and video conferencing enable access to IT resources and distance learning by helping geographically remote students to connect to the classroom no matter what device they’re using.

Data storage and management: Data is increasingly becoming decentralized. According to Gartner, 75% of enterprise-generated data will be created and kept outside a traditional data center or cloud by 2025. Integrated compute clusters and network fabrics can empower academic institutions to streamline data management and reduce operational expenses through automation.

Powerful cloud technologies: Today, remote learning has made cloud a necessity to deliver the types of solutions and services that facilitate seamless virtual interactivity between instructors and students. A recent Forrester study revealed that 83% of organisations have adopted a multi-cloud approach or plan to within the next 12 months. With such rapid progress, however, comes complexity and often siloed cloud ecosystems. Addressing these challenges requires a multi-cloud operating strategy that delivers a consistent cloud experience across environments.

Cybersecurity transformation: Cybersecurity has emerged as a top challenge for institutions in recent years. Higher education ranks amongst the top five industries that face cyber security risks and has the highest rate of ransomware as well. In fact, according to a recent study by Gartner, ransomware is cited as one of the most dangerous threats to organizations and that by 2025, at least 75% of IT organizations will face one or more attacks. Cybersecurity threats and network security are continually top priorities for CIOs in education. It’s therefore critical for institutions to build a holistic strategy, through campus security solutions that protect people, information and physical components.

Saving capital and innovating smarter: Since the beginning of the pandemic, universities have had to reshape budgets quickly and drastically, with many having to reduce overall spend. When a company can consume IT on an as-needed basis, via an as a service model, it’s easier to track which projects are or aren’t working according to plan. In turn, this helps companies know where and where not to commit additional funds. Using this model, institutions can provide all of their primary functions via a self-service catalog. This enables agility, efficiency, security, and the measurement and management of all digital resources in the most effective way.


Shaping the workforce of the future

A focus on driving innovation and investment in digital technologies is how universities and colleges can build a bridge from traditional classrooms and labs to immersive, digital learning environments that boost student success.

During the past decade, GCC countries have been developing national strategies to accelerate their economic diversification agendas with a lens on developing the knowledge economy. For example, the UAE ranks number one in the Arab world and 11th globally in the Global Knowledge Index  report that tracks the performance of countries in education.

As a result, institutions are rapidly becoming a hub for nurturing and developing workforce readiness skills. Having that reach and responsibility, requires that IT infrastructures at higher education campuses to be as digitally advanced as possible.