My Top 10 Takeaways from EDUCAUSE 2019

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Top of Mind: Top 10 Takeaways from EDUCAUSE 2019
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The Tambellini Group was in Chicago last week at the annual EDUCAUSE conference. It was such a pleasure to meet with current and prospective Tambellini members. The air was energized and the conversations lively. There were some consistent themes and messages throughout the conference, and I came away with some valuable insights. 

  • Most institutions with legacy finance, human resources, and student systems (core ERP) want to update or replace their systems altogether. With only a few exceptions, most institutions are looking to replace old code, customizations, clunky user interfaces, and disparate data with modern solutions that provide configurations, responsive design on any device, and integrated data.
  • The cloud is a given. It is only a matter of time before the on-premises solutions are no longer an option. Managing databases and security will rest with the vendors. The ability to customize will be eliminated; instead, institutions will be able to extend functionality by building applications on top of solutions’ platforms.
  • Institutions prefer to acquire core ERP systems (finance, HR, and student) from a single vendor. This strategy mitigates risk and work to integrate data and provides consistency with the look and feel of the user experience.
  • Some institutions that have not yet committed to a core cloud ERP system are waiting to see what happens with the maturity of the new cloud student systems before choosing a cloud ERP vendor. There have been hiccups as vendors develop student systems, and there are bound to be more. These systems are complex. Early adopters of student systems are working through the issues with vendors, and the higher education community is watching closely.
  • Demographics are changing. As the population of traditional students shrinks, institutions must respond to lifelong learners’ needs.
  • Institutions are looking for mature products in areas other than core ERP. Many institutions are adopting a best-of-breed approach of purchasing core ERP and supplementing it with applications that enable student success/customer relationship management (CRM), continuing education (CE), advancement, and identity and access management, among other offerings.
  • Vendors are responding to the search for solutions beyond core ERP systems. For example, some vendors now embed CRM and CE in their ERP solutions. Most enable data exchange by providing pre-built data integrations with partner solutions.
  • Data continues to be a challenge. Data governance, data cleanliness, data integration, and analytics are all issues that institutions are starting to address. This is particularly of importance when institutions convert only a portion of their data to a new system. What to do with the data left behind?
  • Business processes will be a challenge. As institutions move to cloud solutions that do not allow customizations, business processes will need to change. This could present difficult work. The past practices of altering technology to accommodate academic policies and procedures will most likely be replaced with new practices of altering academic policies and procedures to accommodate technology. Effective change management can help with this.
  • Lastly, we enjoyed seeing everyone who attended our Customer Appreciation event at the Motor Row Brewery. We appreciate you coming to celebrate and share in some great Chicago desserts with us. 

EDUCAUSE continues to give us the opportunity to catch up with our clients and connect with the best thinking in higher education IT. We can’t wait to see you in Boston next year!

The Tambellini Group is the world’s leading independent technology research and advisory firm dedicated exclusively to higher education. Tambellini offers direct interaction with the top industry analysts and provides custom, data-driven advisory services. If you are not a member and would like to learn more about our services, check out or contact Client Services.

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Tambellini Author
As a Senior Advisor at Tambellini Group, Sue Spies authors and publishes research, assists in client engagements, and supports client services. Most recently from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Ms. Spies was the Director of Enterprise Information Systems, where she was responsible for the development, implementation, and support of academic and administrative systems. Ms. Spies is an experienced panel facilitator and presenter covering topics such as custom solutions, code, and collaborative work with institutional research colleagues.

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