Author: 
admin

It’s time for a new approach to enterprise resource planning in higher ed — one that involves transparency, cooperative contracts, a cloud-native strategy and more. 

As a veteran higher education CIO and now in a role of ERP industry evangelist for higher education enterprise and cloud systems, I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly in the ERP world — both from my own experiences and through the eyes of so many good CIO colleagues across the country. Over the years, I’ve implemented two ERP systems at two schools and have been a consultant for a number of other educational institutions, and you can bet that I have many wishes for an industry where I have so many ERP company friends who serve so many of my fellow CIOs.  

Change is needed in the higher education ERP industry … badly. Here are just a few key items that I believe are crucial to the industry for the coming years — and a cry (of sorts) for a true champion to change an industry so ready for transformation.
Author: 
Keith Fowlkes

by Keith Fowlkes, Vice President, Technology Contracts E&I Cooperative Services
Co-founder and Executive Director, The HESS Consortium

We have all been there! With the constant crush of projects, budgets, staffing issues and, well, life in general, the path of least resistance in our technology operations is inevitable. We have established vendors who we do business with on a regular basis for everything from network security to paper shredding. There is just not enough time in the day to make sure you are getting the best price, every time.

Author: 
Keith Fowlkes

Author: 
Keith Fowlkes

Author: 
Keith Fowlkes

In my work with higher education technology leaders across the country this year, it seems that there are several recurring subjects of concern. Given that much of my focus is on ERP and cloud-based systems, CIOs, CTOs, and directors of technology share their concerns about a few central items that are clearly forming their opinions, their planning directions, and their buying decisions in the ERP/SIS and cloud-systems markets.

Author: 
Keith Fowlkes

Why Resellers are the Answer for Technology Procurement


With today’s tight educational budgets and the ever-increasing needs for technology, support operations professionals are caught between a rock and a hard place. How can support staff keep up with the demands of their campus while controlling costs?

Fewer original equipment manufacturer (OEM) options and the struggle to meet customer demands in a high turnover environment means education continues to be squeezed for higher revenues. So, the question is: why should campuses take a closer look at moving to a reseller model for technology procurement?

I recently read a great article by David Raths in Campus Technology titled: 7 Tips for Getting Started with VR/AR, which discusses virtual and augmented reality research being conducted by a new organization called VRFirst. As I read through David’s comments on higher education’s involvement in the testing and use of VR/AR technologies, I began wondering how this could eventually affect enterprise technology infrastructures, technology organizational structures, and—ultimately—the future of higher education.

Today, We Learn in a Physical Environment
Technology infrastructure as we know it today in our colleges and universities is mostly hardware-based, physically located on-campus. Network switches, wireless access points, and datacenters are all part of today’s campus reality. Computers are supported with wireless network access, and high-end needs for computational supercomputing will eventually—if not already—be remotely provided by a handful of R1 and R2 institutions.

As a veteran technology leader in higher education, I could not begin to count the hours that I have spent either on the phone or in person with hardware and software suppliers negotiating (occasionally begging) for better prices for hardware and software. Every higher educational institution that I have served over the past 26 years has had some initiative to cut costs and improve efficiency. Over the past 5 years though, it has been much like trying to squeeze blood from a turnip, trying different approaches to providing services. Over the past 3 years in our work building a consortium of private colleges and universities (the Higher Education Systems and Services Consortium- HESS) and now leading the technology contracts category for E&I Cooperative Services, I have realized that it is not always WHAT we are buying but HOW higher educational technology organizations are buying that is the core challenge.

A brief overview of Learning Management Systems (LMS) concepts for preparation on E&I’s upcoming LMS contract offering in under 6 minutes. Copyright 2018 E&I Cooperative Services, Inc. (length: 6:45)

Author: 
Keith Fowlkes

Author: 
Keith Fowlkes

As I write this, I’m on a plane headed to Philadelphia for EDUCAUSE 2017, as many others are also. For higher education technology geeks like myself, it is like Christmas in October! Don’t judge me...

First and foremost, I’m looking forward to seeing my close friends in technology leadership from across the country and sharing the work we have been doing with E&I Cooperative Services and the HESS Consortium. I am also looking forward to seeing some new technologies for colleges and universities and learning about how they fit into the fabric of higher education today.

That is a hard thing to assess these days, how new technologies fit and how they can be adopted into technology operations as well as academic instruction. What are the next steps in higher education and technology? Of course, my thinking this is centered primarily on hopes of seeing real and meaningful innovation from the operational and administrative software and systems solution providers on this trip.

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