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Blackboard Acquires IT Help Desk Provider Perceptis

Blackboard has extended its reach into the IT support business. This week the company announced that it had acquired Perceptis, which provides help desk and other services to colleges and universities. The terms of the deal between these two privately held firms were not made public.

Although Perceptis also provides financial aid services for several institutions, it has built its reputation on its tech support offerings, delivered by phone, Web chat and email. Customers have included Arizona State University, the University of Virginia and the Colorado Community College System, among others.

Perceptis maintains its headquarters and a call center in Greenville, SC and a call center in Phoenix. According to Katie Blot, head of Blackboard's Education Services, the acquisition doubles the number of service centers maintained by her company in the United States. "Institutions need help with delivering on the high expectations of students by continuously improving academic and administrative services," she wrote in an email. "Our investment in these operations centers are specifically aligned to address that need."

Blot added that the centers are becoming part of her division's operations. However, for the "foreseeable future," the Perceptis leadership team will remain intact.

This purchase isn't the first Blackboard has done to build its services business; in 2011 it acquired Presidium, another education service provider. The subsequent launch of Blackboard Student Services allowed the organization to infiltrate multiple campus departments, including financial aid, marketing and recruitment, registration and student support and retention. It also provides IT and helpdesk support for learning management systems — its own and others — and other desktop applications and technologies.

One of those helpdesk customers is the Kentucky Community & Technical College System. In 2011 the system announced that it would contract with the services arm of Blackboard to support its numerous colleges and campuses. "Over the past three years, Blackboard has helped us provide exceptional services and support that has positively impacted the success of our students' college experience," said Vice President Gloria McCall. "The acquisition of Perceptis demonstrates Blackboard's commitment to being first in class for 24/7/365 virtual services."

The acquisition of Perceptis is the company's "way of showing our dedication to growing this division," said Blot. "We continue to invest because we believe there is a huge opportunity…to add value to the student experience as they move through their education pathways. Our goal is to simplify the student experience and make it easy, enjoyable and, ultimately, successful. This combination also emphasizes that we can blend the right technologies, resources and services to meet the unique needs of our customers, regardless of their LMS and technology choice."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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