Hyperautomation Strategy Key to Digitalization in Higher Education

Sidney Fernandes, Vice President Information Technology / CIO, University of South Florida

Sidney Fernandes, Vice President Information Technology / CIO, University of South Florida

Higher Education has begun to look at lessons learned from changes forced by the pandemic to envision a brighter future. Higher education technology leaders whose teams were asked to perform the herculean task of ensuring pre-pandemic technology platforms could quickly be adapted during a crisis now must help university leaders create a future where digitalization is a key component of successful initiatives.

Hyperautomation, when coupled with Agile practices deployed at scale, is transformative to university digital strategies. AI, RPA and Low Code/No Code tools have begun to deliver on the promise of rapid, iterative solutions at speed and scale that were previously only achievable by tech giants and startups. University technology leaders can now quickly generate value for their clients at a time when the appetite for solutions that deliver on the promise of rapid optimization of tedious tasks and processes continues to increase exponentially.

Gartner defines hyperautomation as a “business-driven, disciplined approach that organizations use to rapidly identify, vet and automate as many business and IT processes as possible.” Technology leaders must have a strategy to realize the value of hyperautomation while avoiding well-documented pitfalls that occur when technologies are adopted without those plans.

Some key considerations technology leaders should keep in mind when developing a strategy for utilizing hyperautomation as part of their digitalization plan:

Develop a governance framework to focus on key needs and create rapid feedback loops.

Governance that includes faculty, students, and staff is crucial to digitalization success. This critical group of stakeholders directly impacted by changes should be involved in a rapid feedback loop from the creation and design to the evaluation of hyperautomation efforts. This builds trust and empathy between technology teams and stakeholders.

Utilize a platform approach to delivering solutions.

Technology leaders are now faced with a dizzying array of choices of products for hyperautomation. It can be tempting to pick individual products without worrying about the technical debt that comes with maintaining and integrating multiple solutions. Picking platforms over individual products gives IT teams the advantage of built-in integrations while minimizing security risks that come with keeping up with solution sprawl. Vendor partnerships and mitigating vendor lock-in are key. A great platform strategy will build the foundation for rapid acceleration of digitalization.

Create and nurture a project management framework that supports scaling of Agile teams.

Technology teams in higher education have been stretched to perform at levels not seen before the pandemic. Sophisticated project management frameworks are needed to support the rapid development of solutions without relying on heroic efforts of individuals or teams. Many technology teams have adopted Agile practices, but these tend to be centered around individual teams. Hyperautomation demands these practices be scaled across technology teams and clients, so projects are not bogged down by external dependencies. Scaling agile practices is complex and requires significant effort but is critical to the success of hyperautomation initiatives.

As we move to the next phase of the pandemic, technology and academic leaders have an opportunity to partner to create engaging client experiences. Time previously spent on frustrating, repetitive work can now be focused on rewarding teaching, learning and research that higher education faculty, students and staff are truly passionate about. Effectively leveraging hyperautomation brings us closer to being able to fulfill that promise.

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