digitalising b-school education

There’s no denying that 2020 disrupted business norms. Driven by the pandemic, organisations were faced with the need to accelerate change in the way they do business and engage with employees and customers. As organisations, we grappled with how to reach our communities – wherever they may be – in a seamless way.

As one of the world’s leading and largest graduate business schools, INSEAD strives to deliver exemplary experiences for its students, staff and faculty alike. In the face of the pandemic, which closed off most of our global campuses like Singapore, we faced a new challenge: a seamless transition to digital learning experiences

What’s more, the pandemic motivated many to future-proof their skills and secure their position amidst a period of uncertainty.  Interest in MBAs grew significantly at the peak of the pandemic, INSEAD saw applications for its MBA programme increase by 58 per cent compared to pre-COVID-19 levels. 

In the face of this new challenge we found an opportunity to continue delivering the standard of experience our students and staff expect, underpinned by strategic digitalisation initiatives we’ve implemented to modernise our systems around student scheduling and enrolments.  

Overcoming our integration roadblocks

Unlocking and connecting data across applications and systems is one of the biggest challenge organisations face today. In a learning environment, a disconnect in the ability to bring student information together with legacy IT inhibits our ability to power undisrupted, digital learning experiences.

Our technology ecosystem was composed of more than 100 disparate and siloed applications, which made it difficult to keep up with evolving student and faculty expectations.

During high-traffic periods, such as enrolments and scheduling, this created a frustrating experience for students while overwhelming staff with manual work and driving up IT costs for operations and maintenance. 

We needed to modernise our legacy systems, unlock important data–wherever it was and promote connectivity and reusability across our technology systems. An integration approach was critical in bridging our data divides and overcoming silos across our applications and systems.

Put simply, we needed to modernise how we operated on the backend to meet the expectations of our students and faculty.

In an increasingly crowded market, where people have the choice between several business schools and programmes, digitisation and integration were no longer ‘nice-to-haves’ but ‘must-haves’. 

Streamlining scheduling and enrolments through automation

Scheduling and managing course enrolments are tedious, time-consuming tasks for students and staff alike. By far one of the biggest challenges faced was not having a universal system to navigate scheduling, which led to weeks’ worth of additional manual work on the part of staff and often led to technical issues scheduling classes on the part of students. 

We needed a more efficient system, one that freed our staff from having to manually book thousands of courses when the system failed to do so. We also needed to provide a universal scheduling view for staff across various departments which had become accustomed to using their preferred specialised scheduling tools.

Also Read: For the digital economy, traditional education needs an update

By building 36 APIs, supported by platforms such as MuleSoft, we’ve been able to reduce manual work across the organisation by 60 per cent and increase developer speed by 44 per cent. This has also allowed us to automate the enrolment process, further liberating staff from extra work.

Less time spent on cumbersome processes such as scheduling and course bookings means we can focus on boosting our digital learning experience through new services. 

Furthermore, we’ve also been able to integrate our student information system with other systems to give all staff access to a universal and holistic view of scheduling while using their preferred tools. 

Building the classrooms of tomorrow

Organisations today need to take a holistic approach to understand their core audiences and the education sector is no exception. 

Empowered by MuleSoft and a focus on reusable assets, we’ve boosted productivity across the institution, cutting around two weeks of manual work and development every semester to enrol and deliver student life capability. 

We plan to continue innovation in the future, such as relaunching our Alumni Portal so past students can reap the benefits of a connected experience too. The way we work and live is constantly changing – the way we learn must also be reimagined to meet students’ needs and build the digital classrooms of tomorrow. 

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