Factors such as increasing costs, declining affordability, disruptive technologies and for-profit competitors mean that higher education institutions need to expand the strategic role of IT to differentiate themselves in the market, according to a report from Ovum.

Institutions can’t remain static and expect to survive, the firm says. Senior administrators need to assess the changing environment and take fast action in collaboration with IT when needed.

In its 2016 Trends to Watch report on Education Technology, the technology research firm identifies a number of key trends that will impact the education technology market in 2016: Institutions will give more thought to delivery models for teaching and learning; they will become more sophisticated in how they think about the student experience; serious discussion about next-generation IT strategy will continue.

The report finds that increasing revenue and budget growth, improving operational efficiency, and reducing operating expenditure will be the top three business challenges for institutions over the next year.

“It is unlikely that the higher education market will be substantially different in a year’s time, or even within the next few years,” Navneet Johal, research analyst, education technology at Ovum and author of the report, said in a statement. “However, institutions must capitalize on change now, rather than being consumed by it later, to survive in the increasingly competitive higher education market.”

Enterprise-wide deployments of constituent relationship management (CRM) systems and the overlapping of enterprise applications such as learning management systems and student information systems will grow to support student experience strategies, Johal said.

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