Why You Should Consolidate Your Tech Stack

September 25, 2023 Watermark Insights

Colleges and universities are constantly seeking ways to adapt, innovate, and stay competitive. As higher education institutions face increasingly complex administrative and academic challenges, they must find ways to mitigate this complexity while supporting growth. Tech consolidation — the process of optimizing an institution's technology ecosystem by minimizing redundancy and aligning systems to work together seamlessly — is a crucial step.

Tech consolidation allows institutions to become more efficient, improve ROI, and reduce time-consuming manual processes. In this blog, learn why consolidating your tech stack is pivotal to your strategy for institutional effectiveness, how to approach streamlining software at your college or university, and why only those institutions that successfully achieve tech consolidation will endure

The major issue facing higher ed

The urgency to modernize in recent years has led higher education institutions to accumulate numerous software solutions, sometimes in a hasty manner. This creates digital sprawl — a convoluted technology system where organizations employ software solutions piecemeal, addressing isolated symptoms rather than holistic institutional health. Such disjointed systems create unnecessary inefficiencies, drain resources, and divert focus from the core educational mission.

These siloed solutions often operate in the dark from one another, leading to data redundancies, inconsistencies, and the need for repetitive manual data entry. This not only consumes valuable time and labor but introduces the risk of errors that can have far-reaching consequences.

Digital sprawl deepens a disconnect between different segments of the institution, inhibiting effective communication and collaboration. In an ever-changing educational environment, this kind of fragmentation hampers an institution's ability to stay agile and competitive.

Tech consolidation saves money, time, and labor

Amid the threats posed by digital sprawl, tech consolidation emerges as the best solution. It offers numerous benefits to higher education institutions, including:

  1. Cutting costs. Eliminating redundant software licenses and reducing the IT infrastructure needed to support a bloated tech stack allows institutions to slash substantial expenses.
  2. Streamlining operations. Consolidating your tech stack simplifies administrative processes, minimizes the need for manual data entry, and enables staff to redirect their efforts toward strategic initiatives rather than routine tasks. This enhances productivity and accelerates decision-making.
  3. Encouraging educational growth. As institutions become more adaptable through the consolidation of software solutions, they can focus on expanding academic programs, research initiatives, and student services. This positions them to respond effectively to changes in the educational landscape, fostering a culture of innovation.

How to approach tech consolidation at your college or university

From student information systems to learning management platforms, data worlds can quickly collide, becoming cluttered and overwhelming. Institutions must adopt a strategic approach to tech consolidation that aligns with their unique objectives. To streamline your institution’s software the right way, you should:

  1. Assess what you already have. The first step in any consolidation effort is a comprehensive assessment of existing technology infrastructure. Institutions must take stock of the software tools currently in use, evaluating their effectiveness and relevance. This critical step enables decision-makers to identify redundancies and inefficiencies.
  2. Choose software that fits your business model (rather than the other way around). Your tech should enhance, not dictate, your strategy. Instead of adapting your institution to fit the software, select solutions that can adapt to your institution's unique business model.
  3. Prioritize seamless integrations and ease of use. Look for software that offers seamless integrations with existing systems, reducing the friction of implementation and daily use. User-friendly interfaces and intuitive design should be non-negotiables, as they foster adoption and improve productivity across campus.
  4. Find options that allow data synchronization. Choose software solutions that allow critical information like student records, financial data, and research findings to be easily and securely shared across platforms.

Tech consolidation is the key to future-proofing your institution

Freeing your people up to focus on honing their expertise rather than leaving them stuck in spreadsheets or a loop of task-switching and platform-jumping is key to keeping your institution on a track of continuous improvement.

Tech consolidation enables your college or university to prioritize quality over quantity, not only in its systems but for the people those systems serve. It sets your institution up for future success by:

  1. Strengthening security. In an era marked by increasing cyber threats, a consolidated tech stack allows for more robust security measures. With fewer systems to protect and monitor, IT teams can concentrate their efforts on safeguarding a unified environment, making it harder for cybercriminals to exploit vulnerabilities.
  2. Ensuring a smooth student experience. Tech consolidation enhances the student experience by providing a seamless digital journey. From admissions to graduation, students benefit from integrated systems that provide a cohesive and user-friendly experience, not only improving student satisfaction but streamlining administrative processes.
  3. Simplifying collaboration. A consolidated tech stack encourages collaborative efforts across departments and units. Information flows more freely, enabling interdisciplinary research and cooperation. This collaborative environment promotes creative problem-solving and supports the institution's core mission of education.

In today's rapidly evolving educational landscape, effective tech consolidation is a strategic imperative. As more colleges and universities leverage technological advancements to elevate teaching, working, and learning, higher ed institutions that fail to meet faculty, staff, and student expectations will not survive.

Institutions that streamline their technology ecosystems enable a more agile, efficient, and student-centric approach to education — and guarantee their capacity to thrive in the future.

Learn more about the marketplace innovation that can help you consolidate your tech stack by driving critical action in leadership, student success, and continuous improvement — all from the same place.

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