Showing value for new technology implementation

Posted by Jesse | Posted in Higher Education, Management, Technology | Posted on 06-09-2007-05-2008

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In my industry – higher education – we are often caught by a new, sparkly technology. We (being IT professionals) see the new applications and technology as something that will both forward our “mojo” with the prospective students and give value to the institution. The traditional (and even those considered tech savvy) admission professionals are usually slow to adopt these new ideas, instead relying on tried and true methodologies that have produced the necessary “numbers” for incoming classes.

It’s an odd phenomenon, because the higher education industry could be called a stable job environment, but many directors/deans are unwilling to try new things and fail at achieving their classes. I think the problem that the traditional admission professional can’t get around is not being able to directly correlate a new technology “use” to a prospect – applicant conversion. Take a step back and I’m sure the same can be said in other industries – “How can I be sure that this new product will provide value to my company/institution”? Better yet, how can I quantify that X technology was the actual “thing” that was a part of the conversion? Now I’m trying to convince someone to buy X technology, when X technology will just be another “add-on” entity to aid in our marketing/communications/sales program. Ouch.

I don’t know what your IT environment looks like, but with blogs, chats, email solutions, surveys, etc. our add-ons are getting to be a big mess. You’ve got your work cut out for you, but all is not lost. You have to find that value and be able to communicate it well. Like it or not, that manager asking you to show them value is doing their job. They (directly or indirectly) are causing you to look deeper into X technology objectively to squeeze out all the REAL value you possibly can.

Know thine enemy:

“If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.”

- Sun Tzu

Be objective in your research of X technology. Put yourself in your management’s position and try to see the technology from their eyes. Think about things like image, cost, implementation, and time spent on X technology. At the same time, ask for a list of clients you can contact that are actively using X technology. Ask your user groups about X technology, hit the forums and gather as much information as you possibly can. Schedule a demo with X company to walk you through the product. Demos are a *great way to get that first glimpse of customer support. Once you understand the technology better and feel comfortable about it fitting in with your existing IT environment, you can begin to organize your data for a presentation.

STOP!!! (At any point did you feel uncomfortable with what you found? What level of risk would this apply to your operations? If you are staring at a growing list, now is probably the time you take your manager out for some coffee and thank them for their brilliant foresight and experience.) If things still look as amazing and shiny as they did when you first discovered X technology, put your presentation together, make sure the right people are in the meeting and knock this one out of the park. This can’t be a long and painful experience; you need to get to the value added part ASAP.

Answer questions before they are asked, anticipate potential wildcard questions, and be prepared to do an ad hoc demo if it’s available. If possible, keep a one page summary sheet with facts bulleted and well organized. If you believe this much in X technology, let it show in your preparation and research.

Welcome to SquaredPeg!

Posted by Brad J. Ward | Posted in Higher Education | Posted on 05-09-2007-05-2008

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Welcome to SquaredPeg, where 4 distinct voices of higher education professionals will be weaving together to bring you posts on many different areas. As for the name, it seems like every day when we come in to work we (you) are all trying to accomplish the same goal: put the square(d) peg into the round hole. You smash it, you get resistance. You try to remold it, it still won’t go. But somehow, someway, you figure out your problem, only to restart the process.

Jesse has been in Higher Ed for 4 years, first as an admission counselor, then moving into web development, and now into his current position as Information Systems Coordinator. He is the Butler University recruitment SIS administrator (Recruitment Plus). He also is the admission project manager for different web applications and reporting projects.

Brad has been in Higher Ed for 2 years. His first position was as a Marketing/Recruitment Specialist at a public institution in Illinois, leading the way on initiatives such as a electronic photo database, campus photography, podcasting,  MySpace, and the student bloggers. He is now at Butler as the Electronic Communication Coordinator, learning the ropes of email marketing, content updates on the web, and integrating print/electronic marketing, and trying to bring new technology into the mix. His latest project includes the Butler Bloggers and the online community that will surround it.

Brian has been in Higher Ed for 2 years, and is the admission Web Developer for Butler.  He concentrates on internal web applications that drive the business processes of the admission office.  He’s worked on reporting suites, event management software, visit software, office coordination software, among other things.  He has a great eye for web design, and brings a unique persona to the table: a designer that understands both sides of the table.

Chris has been in Higher Ed for 4 years, and has been at Butler since graduating in 2003. He started as an admission counselor, and is now the Senior Assistant Director of Admission, overseeing the other counselors. His work on both the counselor side and the administration side have given him great experience.

Join us as we leave our ramblings and thoughts here, and feel free to comment on what you think. Welcome to SquaredPeg.