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4 Ways Centralizing Communications Can Help Higher Education CIOs Meet Their Goals

Higher education CIOs are responsible for a varied and growing list of items across campus. Centralizing communications can help meet those goals...
Higher Education CIOs choosing tech for institution

Today, higher education CIOs are accountable for a varied — and growing — list of priorities from keeping data and intellectual property secure across campus to enabling and assisting faculty and students with the implementation of innovative new technologies. However, the fundamental responsibility of managing a school’s complex web of backend systems so everything works together 24/7 has never been more important. All this against a backdrop of declining student population numbers, challenging retention and admission goals, and an immense amount of pressure on college and university leadership across the country to improve student experiences while reducing costs. 

But how can CIOs position their institution to stay ahead in a time of budget cuts, staff shortages, and a rapid technology innovation cycle? 

We’ve heard from higher education CIOs who say it’s near impossible to continue the pace of adding new technologies and implementing new systems while keeping costs and compliance in check. The answer is twofold: streamline and strengthen. CIOs must consider how to leverage what is already built and adopt technology that integrates with and strengthens those systems to drive immediate outcomes in retention and admission. 

From a student communications perspective, that means centralization – removing silos and synchronizing existing architecture to provide staff across departments with tools that meet their needs while maintaining control of content, data, and consistency. 

What Is a Centralized Communication Strategy?

When we think of centralized communications, it doesn’t mean going to the drawing board and re-envisioning your entire approach to student engagement. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Instead of launching new widgets and chatbots disconnected from existing systems, centralizing means looking at how to bring together what is built to make it more effective at communicating with students at scale, in the ways and on the channels they prefer.   

Centralizing your communication strategy not only reduces staff burnout and maximizes budget, but it also provides a host of benefits that helps to improve the overall student experience, ultimately keeping students engaged, enrolled, and successful. 

The Benefits of Streamlining Student Communications for Higher Education CIOs 

Benefit 1: Ensures information students receive is consistent across campus.

Teams and departments work hard to make relevant information available to students, potential students, and families. Unfortunately, with so many departments providing information through their own systems and processes, students can still be left feeling confused and frustrated with conflicting and disconnected information. 

By adopting a centralized communications approach, schools avoid disjointed student experiences by using one knowledge base across all communications channels. Whether students or parents are leveraging live chat, chatbots, or 

two-way texting, they get a consistent answer, no matter which department they are engaging. 

Benefit 2: Unifies your school’s voice and persona to build brand trust.

Centralizing communications is not only critical in making students’ lives easier, but also in building trust in the brand of the school. Consistent interactions with one identity and voice — no matter the channel or department an individual or family engages with — helps create a sense of belonging and safety for current students and those individuals who are considering applying.  

Benefit 3: Streamlines content controls and data security. 

Multiple communication systems and a web of new age chatbot widgets leaves CIOs scrambling to create new policies and rules across campus. By adopting a centralized communications approach, CIOs can streamline IT management and security, updating and maintaining one knowledge base across all communications channels and securely connecting to existing systems in a strategic, holistic way. New AI innovation can also be vetted and managed in one place, ensuring any pilot deployments are done carefully, and in compliance with evolving government regulations. 

Benefit 4: Better support staff and their initiatives.

As CIO, enabling departments to do their job effectively to meet their goals is fundamental to success. Each department has unique initiatives and KPIs; engaging students in a personalized way at scale is fundamental to most all of them. A centralized communication system integrates seamlessly with multiple existing campus systems – from CRMs to SISs – enabling staff to leverage all the information they are inputting and using it to inform what communications they are sending when and to who. From an admissions leader working to follow up with potential applicants via a text campaign to a financial aid staff member answering questions about bill pay status via a live chat engagement, students will be supported with information unique to them.  

2024 is a year of both challenge and opportunity for higher education institutions. By considering implementing technology solutions that streamline and strengthen what already exists, CIOs can set themselves up for success both in maximizing resources and driving retention. 

Learn more about how Ocelot can assist you in streamlining your communications strategy today!

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