How scalable cloud solutions can reduce waiting times during the clearing process.
“Digital strategies” and “shifts to the cloud” are not new topics of conversation within the Education Sector. In fact, they’re now arguably as ubiquitous as chatting about our inclement weather. The difference however, is that we are now seeing the creation of digital strategies which formalise and structure this aspiration to shift to the cloud and turn a lot of hot air into forward momentum.
Higher Education (HE) and Further Education (FE) institutions alike have adopted cloud or hybrid cloud approaches where bottlenecks exist within on-premise solutions – and usually in a creative or innovative way. Yet IT departments have not articulated this publically and in unison with the academic bodies that they serve.
Such digital strategies need to be inclusive, and everyone, every department and every decision needs to reflect this vision; from the day-to-day operation of the faculty to the ability to diversify the way in which any organisation communicates with their customers.
In the education sector, this customer is the student and for HE establishments, the clearing process represents one of the most important conversations with potential customers that will be encountered.
Clearing is now as much a part of the A-Level Results Day ritual as is the swathes of jubilant students leaping into the air clutching their results that flood our newsfeeds. Clearing is so commonplace in fact, that record numbers of students now find a university place in this way; 2016 saw a staggering 33,000 students going through the process and those figures are only increasing.
Now that’s a huge peak in call traffic; the kind of peak that puts a huge amount of strain on university telephony systems. And it’s gotten to the point that some institutions are finding new, creative ways to ease the pressure – with some even skipping clearing altogether.
Why? Because existing infrastructures are often unable to provide important return on investment (ROI) information and information that will formulate success criteria.
But skipping clearing may be too drastic a step. What’s needed is the marrying of disparate teams in order to align marketing, skills and resource to ensure that this first conversation, this crucial touch point, is completed in a timely and efficient manner at a time when student experience is at the forefront of every organisation’s thought process.
The University of Southampton is a perfect example.
On the morning of A-Level Results Day, like every university in the UK, this world-leading, research-intensive institution will receive in excess of 10,000 calls during the clearing process.
Recognising the limitations of its existing “hunt group” infrastructure, as well as the limited access to key marketing data, they contacted Daisy – their incumbent unified communications supplier – keen to explore a simple, effective entry into the cloud to deliver the high-quality, stress-free service that prospective students deserve.
Facilitating the university’s need for increased capacity and improved efficiency, Daisy proposed “Clearing in the Cloud”, a solution that leverages cloud technology for the processing of calls and mitigating bottlenecks caused by existing equipment and ingress.
By moving to a cloud-managed solution, the university has mitigated the costly and labour-intensive process of installing additional hardware and instead benefit from a solution that can scale both up and down as demand changes.
Today, faculty staff are able to see how many students called throughout clearing, with added visibility on how many calls were queued, meaning next year’s staffing levels can be aligned well in advance.
What’s more, the reporting functionality allows staff to determine the success of certain marketing streams, enabling them to focus on and, where necessary, realign marketing tactics for the coming year.
Now that’s true digital transformation.