Tech Upgrades for Higher Ed Institutions: Top Insights from Heller Consulting’s Panel with NXUnite - Heller Consulting

Tech Upgrades for Higher Ed Institutions: Top Insights from Heller Consulting’s Panel with NXUnite

Shane Sugino, Director of Higher Education at Heller Consulting joined NXUnite’s panel “Universally Beneficial: Tech Upgrades for Higher Ed Institutions” with higher-ed technology experts Craig Johnson of Insendi, Hendrik-Jan Overmeer of Deedmob, and Julia Beltran of Double the Donation to discuss the importance of technology in the higher-education industry. 

Assessing Your Technology 

Technology is constantly changing, and so are users’ expectations. The audience in your market place is always shifting, and their expectations of the current technology and vendors they are using is also continuously changing. Because of that, it is important to make sure your institution has the right mix of products, technology, and services from what others expect from you. 


Higher education institutions need to be aware of where they stand in relation to technology. They must keep up with the market as it changes and know when their current technology is getting old and stale to their users. 


“If you are not keeping up, then you are falling behind,” said Shane Sugino, Director of Higher Education at Heller Consulting. 


Aside from keeping up with changes in the market and with your audience, another important reason to assess and review your current technology stack is to save time. Some might argue that this is the most obvious reason to assess your current technology use as saving time leads to saving money. 


Although there are many reasons as to why you should review your technology stack, changes in the market, user expectations, and saving money are a few key points as to why your institution should regularly assess its technology stack. 

Identifying What Technology to Improve 

When there are countless possibilities on how you can use technology, it might be difficult to determine what technologies your organization needs to use, and what it needs to improve. It is really important that each institution’s or organization’s leadership has a vision for what they are seeking to achieve. The vision will drive what the objectives and goals are, and the objectives and goals will drive the desired outcomes. Once you determine what your desired outcome is, it will be much easier to determine what your technology stack should, and will, look like. 


Once you have decided to you are ready for a change, remember to coordinate with your team members. Choosing what technology stack to use and how to use it does not have to be something you tackle alone. 


Keep these considerations when you are trying to improve your technology stack: 

  • Think about what your desired outcome is 
  • Know what you want to do with the technology 
  • Talk to multiple technology providers 
  • Discuss with other team members and people within your industry to decide which technology stack is worth your institution’s, or organization’s, time 


It is important to have a vision, an outcome, and a roadmap of how you plan to achieve your results. Remember to stay focused as your institution or organization goes through the implementation process in order to set your team and end-users on a path to long-term success.

Maintaining Long-Term Success  

Technology is constantly evolving, yet often times, many institutions and organizations find themselves struggling to improve as they get comfortable with what they are used to. It can even get easy to lose sight of the actual problems you may need, or want, to address and solve as time goes on. 


“One change that institutions, or organizations, can make right now that can have a positive long-term impact is to change their perspective,” said Craig Johnson, Regional Business Development Manager at Insendi. 


The ability to change your perspective, especially in the technology sector, can affect how your organization or institution adapts to new capabilities. 


Another key change is to identify what you can, or cannot, automate. A simple way to do this is to make a list of activities that could be taken over by technology in the future (i.e., email marketing, data entry, etc.) 


“You do not necessarily have to automate everything at once. Keep in mind that you want to make things user-friendly. It is about ease and convenience and not about having the newest technology first,” said Henrik-Jan Overmeer of Deedmob


Although you do not have to automate today, or even tomorrow, it is good to know what your institution or organization can automate in the future. Remember, if it makes it more difficult for the user, it might not be a great fit after all. 

The Future of Tech for Higher-Ed Institutions 

User experience and engagement are two key factors that are, and will continue, to drive technology decisions within many industries, including the higher education industry. It is crucial to understand who is using your technology and what fuels the need for that specific technology. 

Integrations will also become increasingly more common, and a key player, as technology companies become experts of what they are offering. To maximize your institution’s or organization’s user experience, you will want to ensure that you can integrate your technology choices and have them work together smoothly. If you are unsure where to start, or what to expect, look towards resources such as newsletters, webinars, and others within your network, to grasp an idea of how to take the next step. 


About the Author

Kaia Swift
Kaia first started working with nonprofits at an internship at an organization that served military families. Since then, she has worked for C-SPAN and with organizations focused on education and politics. She brings her knowledge of marketing and nonprofit operations... Read More