Bridging The Future Of Technology And Education

Taylor King

I wasn’t fully on board with technology when I first arrived at college in the sense that I still really appreciated the physicality of things. I still wrote all my notes by hand for every single course. Although my syllabi were online, I always printed all of them out. And while e-learning versions of my textbooks were significantly cheaper, I still opted to pay up to $50 more for each hard copy.

No matter how many hand cramps I got from note taking, or how heavy my back pack was from carrying books around campus all day, I still pushed on. But it didn’t take long for me to realize that my university was more integrated with technology than I was at that point.100whatifs graphic

Every paper I turned in class also required an electronically submitted copy. My first two businesses classes already required the purchase of online software in order to complete our assigned homework each week. And rather than handing out readings in class, it was up to us students to access them online (and decide whether we wanted to be the ones to kill a tree’s worth of paper).

Over my past three years at college I’ve adjusted my approach to learning. It is not that I’ve changed my educational values but rather I have come to learn what the power of technology can do for me as a student. With the capability to work at a far more efficient pace, I can maximize the content I learn in class from all different angles. I have come to realize that it’s not the content of education that changes, but rather the efficiency, accessibility, and accuracy with which I consume it.

Technology will never replace the human interaction that is so vital to learning, but instead can provide a wider platform for delivery consumption.  So I don’t necessarily need to sit in an auditorium to attend a presentation; I can join in via a web portal. But it doesn’t mean that you should only watch baseball on TV.  Sometimes you get more from sitting in the stadium.

So as I enter into my senior year of college, I now take a much closer look at the reality of the question: what if education was driven by technology?

When it comes to education, technology is much more than just about how the single student is affected.  Technology provides a platform to bring education to far more people than is possible on campus. I think the future of technology holds the potential to bridge the gap between the live experience and interactive one.

Online education is already taking steps forward to provide students with this combined experience. The SAP Learning Hub, Student Edition is a perfect example of interactive learning and virtual accessibility right at a student’s finger tips. Not only does it give students the flexibility to learn anytime, anywhere, but it also helps students get a jumpstart on potential future career path at SAP or any company that works with SAP technology. With the job market on every college student’s mind, this kind of technology creates an incentive for students to start learning about their future careers before they even graduate.

Technology changes the way we access information and volume at which we consume it.  Today’s first grader learns very differently than even I did. Technology will continue to influence the means and pace at which we learn with interconnectivity playing a large role.  But ultimately we need to constantly evaluate the balance of this pace to make sure that we don’t learn things so fast that we leave other important things behind—like growing up.


About Taylor King

Marketing Intern for Global Services going into her senior year of college. Join her in conversation @_taylor_king



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13 Scary Statistics On Employee Engagement [INFOGRAPHIC]

Jacob Shriar

There is a serious problem with the way we work.

Most employees are disengaged and not passionate about the work they do. This is costing companies a ton of money in lost productivity, absenteeism, and turnover. It’s also harmful to employees, because they’re more stressed out than ever.

The thing that bothers me the most about it, is that it’s all so easy to fix. I can’t figure out why managers aren’t more proactive about this. Besides the human element of caring for our employees, it’s costing them money, so they should care more about fixing it. Something as simple as saying thank you to your employees can have a huge effect on their engagement, not to mention it’s good for your level of happiness.

The infographic that we put together has some pretty shocking statistics in it, but there are a few common themes. Employees feel overworked, overwhelmed, and they don’t like what they do. Companies are noticing it, with 75% of them saying they can’t attract the right talent, and 83% of them feeling that their employer brand isn’t compelling. Companies that want to fix this need to be smart, and patient. This doesn’t happen overnight, but like I mentioned, it’s easy to do. Being patient might be the hardest thing for companies, and I understand how frustrating it can be not to see results right away, but it’s important that you invest in this, because the ROI of employee engagement is huge.

Here are 4 simple (and free) things you can do to get that passion back into employees. These are all based on research from Deloitte.

1.  Encourage side projects

Employees feel overworked and underappreciated, so as leaders, we need to stop overloading them to the point where they can’t handle the workload. Let them explore their own passions and interests, and work on side projects. Ideally, they wouldn’t have to be related to the company, but if you’re worried about them wasting time, you can set that boundary that it has to be related to the company. What this does, is give them autonomy, and let them improve on their skills (mastery), two of the biggest motivators for work.

Employees feel overworked and underappreciated, so as leaders, we need to stop overloading them to the point where they can’t handle the workload.

2.  Encourage workers to engage with customers

At Wistia, a video hosting company, they make everyone in the company do customer support during their onboarding, and they often rotate people into customer support. When I asked Chris, their CEO, why they do this, he mentioned to me that it’s so every single person in the company understands how their customers are using their product. What pains they’re having, what they like about it, it gets everyone on the same page. It keeps all employees in the loop, and can really motivate you to work when you’re talking directly with customers.

3.  Encourage workers to work cross-functionally

Both Apple and Google have created common areas in their offices, specifically and strategically located, so that different workers that don’t normally interact with each other can have a chance to chat.

This isn’t a coincidence. It’s meant for that collaborative learning, and building those relationships with your colleagues.

4.  Encourage networking in their industry

This is similar to number 2 on the list, but it’s important for employees to grow and learn more about what they do. It helps them build that passion for their industry. It’s important to go to networking events, and encourage your employees to participate in these things. Websites like Eventbrite or Meetup have lots of great resources, and most of the events on there are free.

13 Disturbing Facts About Employee Engagement [Infographic]

What do you do to increase employee engagement? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Did you like today’s post? If so you’ll love our frequent newsletter! Sign up here and receive The Switch and Shift Change Playbook, by Shawn Murphy, as our thanks to you!

This infographic was crafted with love by Officevibe, the employee survey tool that helps companies improve their corporate wellness, and have a better organizational culture.


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Supply Chain Fraud: The Threat from Within

Lindsey LaManna

Supply chain fraud – whether perpetrated by suppliers, subcontractors, employees, or some combination of those – can take many forms. Among the most common are:

  • Falsified labor
  • Inflated bills or expense accounts
  • Bribery and corruption
  • Phantom vendor accounts or invoices
  • Bid rigging
  • Grey markets (counterfeit or knockoff products)
  • Failure to meet specifications (resulting in substandard or dangerous goods)
  • Unauthorized disbursements

LSAP_Smart Supply Chains_graphics_briefook inside

Perhaps the most damaging sources of supply chain fraud are internal, especially collusion between an employee and a supplier. Such partnerships help fraudsters evade independent checks and other controls, enabling them to steal larger amounts. The median loss from fraud committed
by a single thief was US$80,000, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE).

Costs increase along with the number of perpetrators involved. Fraud involving two thieves had a median loss of US$200,000; fraud involving three people had a median loss of US$355,000; and fraud with four or more had a median loss of more than US$500,000, according to ACFE.

Build a culture to fight fraud

The most effective method to fight internal supply chain theft is to create a culture dedicated to fighting it. Here are a few ways to do it:

  • Make sure the board and C-level executives understand the critical nature of the supply chain and the risk of fraud throughout the procurement lifecycle.
  • Market the organization’s supply chain policies internally and among contractors.
  • Institute policies that prohibit conflicts of interest, and cross-check employee and supplier data to uncover potential conflicts.
  • Define the rules for accepting gifts from suppliers and insist that all gifts be documented.
  • Require two employees to sign off on any proposed changes to suppliers.
  • Watch for staff defections to suppliers, and pay close attention to any supplier that has recently poached an employee.

About Lindsey LaManna

Lindsey LaManna is Social and Reporting Manager for the Digitalist Magazine by SAP Global Marketing. Follow @LindseyLaManna on Twitter, on LinkedIn or Google+.


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Higher Education Poised To Enter World Of Analytics

Nicole Engelbert

Ovum anticipates that 2016 is likely to be the year that higher education moves from discussion to action with the more sophisticated use of data to transform institutional performance.

Colleges and universities globally are reporting analytics as their most important IT project, as measured by spend, over the next 18 months. Whether these investments propel the industry into a brave new world of analytics usage will depend, at least in part, on the ability of institutions to embed analytics into the daily fabric of organizational decision making, from the boardroom to the dorm room and everywhere in between. Key supporting factors to achieving this reality with analytics include a more practical approach to implementation and the selection of agile solutions with industry-specific frameworks such that institutions are able to balance short-term gains with long-term value.

Exploiting institutional data moves to the top of the agenda

The higher education industry stands at the proverbial crossroads. One path leads to a radical rethinking of how institutions support and deliver teaching, learning, and research, and ultimately to the creation of new services and operating paradigms to complement or replace existing approaches. The other leads to continued or even accelerated budgetary retrenchment, and likely decline, as institutions chase decreasing numbers of traditional students, tuition dollars, and public funding support. Recognizing that transformative change is required to thrive or even survive in this next era of higher education, colleges and universities are taking the first steps toward more bold use of data to manage and shape institutional performance in strategic ways. The effective use of analytics will be crucial to getting on and staying on the right path.

Figure 1: Investing in analytics is a top priority for higher education in 2016

Source: Ovum 2015 ICT Enterprise Insights Survey


When asked in Ovum’s 2015 ICT Enterprise Insights Survey (Q315) what IT projects would have the highest priority over the next 18 months, as measured by total spend, the largest percentage of institutional respondents (28%) selected analytics as their number one priority, and 64% rated it as a top-three project. While the more transformative usage of analytics has been a topic of heated discussion for some time in higher education, few institutions have taken the next step and made investments to move these conversations from the theoretical to the concrete. In too many cases, analytics projects have been confined to back-office operations, progressive but siloed departments, or pilot programs with little capacity or planning for scale. These new findings suggest that the institutional willingness and appetite for more transformative efforts is growing and likely to drive investment over the short term. Consequently, Ovum anticipates that 2016 will launch a brave new world for analytics in the higher education industry.

A data-driven culture will contribute to market differentiation

There are early indicators that higher education is becoming a more data-driven industry. Colleges and universities around the globe are increasingly required to report on student outcomes, such as retention, graduation, and even gainful employment rates, which is compelling them to build increasingly sophisticated reporting capabilities. Reporting to state, provincial, and national agencies is no longer an administrative function, but has become an executive imperative. However, complying with regulatory statutes for reporting is only a first step with analytics, and is unlikely to yield the institutional transformation required to thrive in the coming decades. Creating innovative new programs, finding new revenue streams, and moving with more agility in the industry will require institutions to embrace a data-driven culture where leveraging data is an integral part of the decision-making process rather than simply the outcome of it.

The path to a data-driven culture will not be an easy one. Success will require persistent leadership from the highest levels of the institution and the consistent application of analytics across a myriad of diverse decision-making circumstances, from IT governance to academic advisement and even management of the physical plant. Moreover, its implementation and use cannot be confined to the boardroom alone; it should be pervasive across the campus, informing transactions and interactions as varied as a recruiter planning which secondary schools to visit, to a professor selecting readings for an online sociology course. Ovum believes that sustained transformation is possible only when analytics broadly supports the fundamental work of an institution and is a required element for decision making at every level.

Envision transformation, but take quick, incremental steps

The implementation landscape is littered with analytics initiatives that became mired in internal debate and politics, never moving beyond the planning or pilot stages, and as a result, failing to deliver on the promise of institutional transformation. If this next wave of analytics investment is to avoid the shortcomings of the past, Ovum advises institutions to take a stronger hand in leading the consensus-building process and choose technology solutions with more rapid implementation capabilities.

The consensus-driven, shared governance model is unique to higher education, serving as its greatest strength but also its biggest hurdle to more rapid change. While creating a transformative vision is critical to the long-term success of an analytics investment, tightly coupling the solution’s implementation to it is unnecessary. As the vision moves through the consensus-building process, project champions can lead short “sprints” with early adopters. The findings from these pilots can inform the vision creation process and support the business case for continued investment. The challenge, of course, is ensuring that the early pilots ultimately align with the agreed vision and do not function as a deterrent to institution-wide deployment. Selecting a solution that balances flexibility and industry specificity can reduce the risk of these types of problems occurring. Because they are built on highly configurable platforms with higher education-specific frameworks, department-led implementations do not impede the execution of an institution-wide vision. Consequently, colleges and universities are able to realize the transformative value of analytics more rapidly.

Want more on how sophisticated data analytics is helping businesses make better decisions? See The Rise Of Exploratory Analytics.


Nicole Engelbert

About Nicole Engelbert

Director of Research & Analysis, Industries at Ovum Consulting.


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The Importance Of Leadership On Employee Engagement [INFOGRAPHIC]

Charmian Solter

Here at Switch & Shift we strive to illuminate effective leadership practices. We pride ourselves on creating cutting-edge solutions for employee engagement, communication, and creating company culture, to name a few.

Why are these topics so important? Well, according to The Importance of Employee Engagement infographic by NBRI, courtesy of Brandon Gaille, if leadership doesn’t step up and affect change and build trust and engagement, their employees will be busy doing anything but work while on the job! This infographic says it all.


For more on developing more engaged, loyal, and productive workers, see How Empowering Employees Creates a More Engaged Workforce.


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