After a quarter of a century, we're still with the same SIS vendor, for good reason.
Next year, The College of Westchester (the school where I have overseen IT since 2008) will have been a Campus Management Corporation customer for 25 years. That's a pretty rare thing in today's ever-changing world of digital technology. There are quite a few good reasons why this relationship has persevered.
Don't get me wrong, it hasn't been all wine and roses. We've had some rough patches. There was a time some years back when I could not see myself writing something like this. But the last few years have seen a lot of challenges turned into opportunities. I spent much of this week at the annual Campus Insight conference and it has been a great opportunity to reflect on all the positive changes over these last few years.
If your school is looking to change part or all of their Student Information System ecosystem, you would do well to consider the product offerings from Campus Management. Their customer base has grown a great deal in the last few years, for good reason, as have their product offerings.
1. The right technology
In recent years, other leading SIS vendors have struggled to determine how best to update their aging technology stack without majorly disrupting their customer base. Some have required their customers to migrate to new underlying databases, which is such a big effort that some schools have taken it as an opportunity to change vendors and platforms. In the meanwhile, CMC ported their SIS client interface to the web and developed and offered a host of complimentary technologies (forms development, workflow, etc.) without changing the underlying database (which runs on Microsoft SQL). At the same time, they continue to develop and invest in new, complimentary tools like the innovative Occupation Insight tool and the AI-powered RENEE chat bot coming this summer.
2. The Right Industry Partners
A few years back, CMC became Microsoft's chosen Higher Ed partner. This has benefited CMC and their customers greatly as we get to leverage industry standard technologies and work with a major industry player that is strong on education. For example, CMC recently partnered with Microsoft to develop the Higher Education Accelerator, which can be used to rapidly build HE solutions using entities such as student, course, and test scores.
We're also happy to be working with READY Education, CMC's chosen mobile app partner.
3. The Right Management
CEO Jim Milton inherited a company that was struggling in a few areas and had seen numerous leadership changes. Milton has righted the ship (but he is loath to take credit for it). In the last few years, CMC has expanded into global markets while also growing their presence in the traditional HE market here in the US. Campus has also acquired numerous ‘right fit' solutions, such as the Education Partners verification service and the Hobson's suite of solutions. All of this growth ties into their strategic direction.
Closer to home, we're also delighted with our account rep, Jamie Leroy, who visits us onsite a few times a year, and always follows through when we have questions.
The combination of consistent, strategic leadership and a strong local presence makes it easy to feel confident with the organization's direction while finding it easy to address our more immediate needs.
4. The Right Direction
I've made this point above already, but it bears repeating. In addition to having to find the best way forward with updating their technology stack, the future of their student portal had been up in the air for years, and their CRM solutions where undergoing frequent replacements. Now they know where they are going. Moreover, the clear path forward for their existing SIS customer base and the technology supporting it lets customers focus more on students and supporting the institution and less on dealing with a major overhaul of the underlying technology.
5. Innovative Products
I wrote last year about Campus's powerful Forms Builder and Work Flow tool set. These two tools combine to provide a rich engine for schools to automate countless tasks with far more ease and less cost than traditional custom development.
While at the conference this year, two more interesting new products stood out to me for their innovative approaches and functionality. Occupation Insight is intended to be a tool that should be able to work for any school regardless of their existing technology. Similarly, the soon to be released RENEE AI chat bot is also intended to ultimately be made available to any school wishing to use it, but the initial launch this summer will work with the Campus Engage CRM.
Occupation Insight connects skills being taught in courses to the demand for labor in the workforce. As students are considering the programs or courses that are right for them, they can see the types of jobs they lead to, including average salaries and experience requirements. As the product matures further, it will soon allow users to drill all the way into specific job offerings that tie back to program and course skills. A built in artificial intelligence platform can contextualize the workforce data that drives that solution (and is refreshed quarterly) and determine what skills employers are looking for and then personalize recommendations for each student based on their goals. Powerful stuff.
RENEE is an AI-empowered chat bot for higher education. Ray Blackwood, Vice President of Product Management at CMC is animated and passionate as he explains the history of the development RENEE and the potential of the product going forward. Learn more in this article about this cutting edge tool, which can bring 24×7 service efficiency to campuses and students alike.
So there you have it: five reasons why I am delighted to be a Campus Management customer today, and looking forward to what tomorrow will bring.