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What's Next for the Student Information System?

What's Next for the Student Information System?

Many information management solutions have failed over the years, but higher education administrations have come to accept their downfalls as normal. We get it. After all the continual upfront financial investments, the sheer amount of faculty time it has taken to implement and run the solutions, and the monumental volume of data being moved around, it can feel impossible to consider another solution.

 

But what happens when those blind spots become too large to ignore? Or when you get the sinking feeling that you are paying for features that will never be applicable to you? What is the best way to build the next generation of the Student Information System?

 

The Student Information System Today

 

The Student Information System (SIS) is the backbone of a variety of core processes inside of a university — including registration, scheduling, student financials, credentials, and advising. 

 

Analyzing the history of the SIS industry development helps us define its future. Ellucian was the first major SIS and became a market leader shortly after the acquisition of Datatel. Peoplesoft was nestled into the number two slot, and shortly after IPO Oracle waged a hostile takeover of the business, its founder Dave Duffield was ousted. Partially to spite Oracle, Dave founded a company named Workday, whose premise was to build a better version of PeopleSoft in the cloud. In the last decade, Workday has entered into the SIS market is building a new product called Workday Student, which is truly the first cloud-native SIS. Other SIS vendors focused on the small-mid-market segment such as Jenzabar, Campus Management and Unit4 are rebuilding existing products in the cloud as well. 

 

One of the most interesting things about the development of the SIS is its significant shortcomings. Students at campuses around the country often joke about how awful their registration system is. Was this really the tool used to manage their student data? Ironically, schools often adopt countless point solutions to integrate with their SIS, when most SIS systems don't have APIs readily available. Ellucian schools often have hundreds of third party apps that connect with their database. Compared to most industries where the backbone software has innovated as fast as the growth of Silicon Valley, major SIS systems have failed to deliver innovations. In large part, because the SIS systems are held back by having to support many instances of legacy on-premises software. 

 

In Higher Education, a few strong voices believe that Cloud is the future of the SIS or that some underlying data layer like Salesforce could become the future of the SIS. Yet, many look at these new SIS cloud solutions and recognize the pain and struggle of having to make a switch. Switching SIS systems is ultimately a 10-year project for which a school is likely to receive a product 10 years out-of-date. It is estimated that fewer than 10 schools have successfully implemented these newer, bigger monoliths to date. Worst, many believe that their investments in their existing systems are too large to pull the trigger for a switch in their SIS.  

 

The Future Evolution of the Student Information System

 

I would argue that the future of the SIS will not be a monolithic all-in-one solution but modular point solutions that will integrate seamlessly with third party products. These modular solutions will allow institutions to slowly wean off of their existing SIS, while improving their processes almost immediately. 

Our vision here at Coursedog is to build a modular, cloud student information system where you can click a button to integrate third party apps.

To our university partners — this means that they can wait for the market to develop, eschew massive upfront investment, and purchase modular, specialized products that will solve core business use cases extremely well and immediately. Over time, we believe that as schools use more of these modular solutions, there will be a tipping point where they realize the SIS may not be necessary anymore at all. In this scenario, the school has many products that integrate well with one another (perhaps from a single vendor such as Coursedog), and that do not set their fate for eternity in a monolith that may or may innovate. 

At Coursedog, our goal is to streamline and provide only the most applicable features of an SIS for our educational institutions — a custom fit to their use cases. These modular, specialized solutions are what will build the next generation of the Student Information System. They will have the freedom to create their own management system, comprised of modules that fit the needs specific to their case study.

 

SIS Comparison Chart

SIS's

Coursedog

Peoplesoft 

Workday 

Ellucian 

Campus

Nexus

Unit 4

Jenzabar

Cloud-Ready

x

x

x

x

 

x

 

API

x

x

x

x

 

x

 

Mobile-friendly and accessible

x

x

x

x

     

Click a button to integrate third party apps. 

x

           

No Upfront Cost and Modular Solution. 

x

           

Higher Ed Focused

x

   

x

x

 

 

Modern UI/UX

x

           

Internal Forum & Best Practices Library

x

   

x

     

Get Started Fast: See initial results in <6 months

x

           

Tight Salesforce Integration and Built in AI/ML Data Analytics

x

           

Cloud Native

x

New Cloud Version (Unreleased)

x

       

Software built to implement best practices & compliance

x

           
Users

55 universities on products

500+ on On-Prem ERP. 0 on cloud

5 Launched

2000+ universities, none cloud native

500+

Less than 5 in NA, 12+ in Europe

2000 on-prem,   


1-5 Universities in cloud

Built in Schedule Planning, Curriculum and Catalog

x

           

 

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