The Key to Higher Ed Students’ Omnichannel Experiences: Data Integration

December 17, 2020 Michael Brumitt

It might not be obvious, but colleges and universities have something in common with retail businesses. They’re each facing the challenge of how to provide seamless omnichannel experiences to their audiences.  

Just as the retail world is adjusting to today’s safety concerns, higher ed institutions are working to ensure they’re providing compelling digital engagements to students at every touchpoint. From enrollment to graduation and beyond, omnichannel experiences play a major role in defining student journeys and are essential to meeting students’ digital expectations throughout their academic career.  

An essential component to omnichannel experiences is an integrated data infrastructure. Without the ability to integrate data from the different platforms at work, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to create those frictionless cross-channel experiences.  

By implementing a data integration solution, such as MuleSoft, IT teams can develop a foundation for providing compelling digital experiences to students and open up opportunities for improving engagements across websites, social media, and mobile touchpoints.  

Omnichannel experiences: The new standard 

Today education itself has become an omnichannel experience. eLearning has been invaluable in enabling college and university faculty to keep their students’ academic momentum going as students attend both in-person and online classes.  

Before the pandemic arrived, students were relying on smartphones, tablets, and laptops to study and complete coursework. Today they’re also registering for classes, keeping up on campus events, and even paying for parking through omnichannel engagements.  

Even before students are accepted at an institution, omnichannel experiences are at work. As students gather information about a college or university, they’ll likely access websites, social media, blog articles, and marketing materials to learn about a school and what it has to offer.  

When all these channels work together effectively, potential students can get a clear idea of the benefits a school can provide. As they move through the application process, they can receive personalized content based around their academic interests and get a first impression of the institution and the kinds of digital experiences they’ll receive as a student.  

Digital integration: The essential omnichannel platform 

The engine behind a seamless omnichannel experience is a fully integrated system of data and technologies. With these connections in place, higher ed teams can ensure that their tech platforms are working in sync and eliminate any data silos that hinder an institution’s ability to deliver smooth cross-channel experiences. 

An integrated system also gives IT and marketing teams an overview of the most valuable data, allowing them to gain insights from it and better understand the channels and content that will resonate most with specific groups, whether they’re students, donors, or alumni.  

Creating personas of each targeted audience and the touchpoints they use frequently will also be vital to the omnichannel process. Achieving this depends on mapping out an infrastructure and knowing the variety of locations where data is stored, the formats the data is in, and any potential access issues.  

Once an architecture map has been created, implementing an integration platform such as MuleSoft can bridge any data gaps using application programming interfaces (APIs) to connect each source.  

Seamless personalized experiences: The end result  

At the beginning of a semester, students access class schedules, buy tickets for campus events, and keep up on campus activities — all through branded mobile apps. As the semester goes on, students can track down information on academic support or financial aid through online resources, and at the end of the semester, look up their final grades from any device.  

These day-to-day examples of omnichannel experiences are all the outcome of effective digital integration operations. By implementing a digital integration solution at the center of your tech stack, a range of benefits are within reach: 

  • Create a 360 view of students, alumni, and other stakeholders and deliver personalized experiences to all of them.  
  • Gain insights into how to continue meeting student demands, as well as the demands of alumni and stakeholders.  
  • Strengthen your digital resiliency and responsiveness to crises, ensuring students can avoid delays in their education with a mix of eLearning and in-person classes. 
  • Deliver frictionless omnichannel experiences founded on tech platforms working in sync whether in the cloud or on premises without access gaps.  
  • Achieve greater efficiencies in your outreach and marketing operations and streamline your tech projects while saving time and costs.  

Students today face many challenges regarding health and safety, as well as planning career prospects. Delivering well-crafted omnichannel experiences can enable them to build the educational foundation they need.  

When you combine an effective digital integration platform with a well-planned strategy, you can deliver compelling content and impressive services to your recipients, no matter the device or the digital resource they’re accessing. 

To learn more about how Appirio can lead your higher ed digital integration projects, contact us today

About the Author

Michael Brumitt

Michael Brumitt is a Communications Specialist at Appirio. As a writer and editor, his career has focused on creating engaging content that helps people solve problems, and his experience includes everything from e-books to traditional print-based publications. He currently lives in Indianapolis.

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