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Report: Education Leaders, Staff Want more Individualization

The education and research sector is facing the same challenges as every other industry in personalizing the experiences of its customers and employees. Four in five education leaders report that their users want more individualization, as do their staff members, but 73 percent consider meeting that demand a "growing challenge."

In fact, only seven percent would give an A to their organization's ability to individualize customer experiences; 57 percent said they'd rate their ability at a C or worse. Only 10 percent would score their ability to individualize the employee experience as an A; 37 percent would rank it as a C or lower.

These findings surfaced in a survey among 300 C-level executives in North America in 10 industries by Oracle, a company invested in industry and the public sector moving to the cloud. (The sample size resulted in a margin of error of ±5.62 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.) The results are being released during the company's human capital management conference taking place this week in Chicago.

Among the education respondents, nearly all (97 percent) said they believe there's an important link between cloud-based IT services and their organizations' ability to deliver individualized employee and customer experiences — what Oracle classifies as the "age of the individual," or "Era I." This concept relates to tailoring of products, content and services. Education was more likely than any other segment to say this kind of individualization was its top priority.

The three most compelling opportunities missed for customer-oriented individualization was on-demand order fulfillment (referenced by 83 percent of respondents), intuitive online experiences (mentioned by 73 percent) and individualized content and promotions (chosen by 70 percent). On the employee side, the biggest missed opportunity was data analytics and industry-specific applications (both selected by 80 percent), self-service options from the user's device of choice (picked by 67 percent) and advanced collaboration (referenced by 60 percent).

The education segment said that the "greatest opportunity" for taking advantage of individualized services, content and products lay with establishing mobile apps to provide students, faculty and staff with quick access to important functions and simple navigation to improve productivity and communication, a need highlighted by 63 percent of respondents. Half of respondents selected the use of predictive and prescriptive analytics to personalize service throughout the student lifecycle, from recruitment through alumni development. That was followed by the use of social media for communications, questions and support, chosen by 47 percent. Fourth on the list, at 40 percent, was incorporation of online support portals to give students 24/7 access to information to ensure every question or issue is answered in a timely fashion.

The main obstacles to achieving individualization is budget or cost constraints, mentioned by 63 percent or respondents, followed by security concerns (47 percent) and the inability for faculty and staff to identify trends and access the timely information needed to maximize student success and boost retention (40 percent).

"The digital age has brought us to a point where we now expect the ability to make real-time decisions, transact and customize options at the tap of the screen. In the new service-driven economy, innovative enterprises must focus on two things: taking care of their customers and taking care of their employees," said Bob Weiler, an executive vice president over Oracle's global business units, in a press release. "Our study reveals that organizations are unprepared to manage the need for personalization in Era I. But those seeking a competitive advantage stand to gain tremendously. Those that invest in their customers and employees will reap the benefits now and into the future."

The report, "The Era I Enterprise: 'Ready for Anything," is available on the Oracle Web site.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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