CIOs struggle to streamline personalized communications, hurting enrollment targets

More than 45% of administrators chalked up the main potholes to advancing their communication channels to budget restraints, lack of integration expertise on staff and siloed departmental goals and priorities. 

Chief information officers are struggling to support their institution’s retention and enrollment rates due the difficulties of providing a seamless digital experiences to students, according to a new report by Ocelot, an AI-driven communication platform.

“The 2024 Higher Education CIO Trends Report” features survey responses from over 100 CIOs across nonprofit and private two- and four-year institutions to understand their priorities for the upcoming academic year, as well as their challenges and potential solutions.

The majority of CIOs called enrollment and retention is a key performance indicator. While U.S. higher education nationwide fights against shaky enrollment numbers, 85% of respondents concerned with these declining figures believe providing students with a top-notch digital experience is key to turning things around. However, 80% say creating a seamless digital experience is a challenge.

A major hurdle is streamlining communication channels to create a personalized experience for students and applicants. It’s rare for most of the respondents to admit they have figured this out—only 16% said students are getting the right personalized message at the right time.

More than 45% of administrators chalked the difficulties up to budget restraints, lack of integration expertise on staff and siloed departmental goals.

Securing students’ personal data and ensuring compliance with changing state and federal policies are also major priorities for CIOs. However, 77% reported past investments in advancing the student experience—such as by streamlining their digital experience—improved retention.

“Higher ed CIOs will be instrumental in shaping a future where technology not only meets but anticipates the needs of both students and faculty alike, ensuring the resilience and vitality of higher education,” the report’s authors wrote.

More from UB: How these colleges successfully de-escalated campus protests

New tech, new problems

Software as a service applications have helped create seamless automation. At the same time, 64% of CIOs said an explosion of solutions has created a complex web of siloed systems that do not work together. Tying in with cybersecurity concerns, a cornucopia of SaaS technology can also become a cyber risk, Forbes reports.

Artificial intelligence is another thorny topic—only 7% of respondents said AI-enabled technology is not presenting new compliance challenges.

Overcoming challenges

CIOs are hoping consolidation will overcome frayed departmental goals and the litany of software available. Specifically, 65% are either currently consolidating or plan to consolidate their stacks.

They are also trying to discover how to bring AI into the fold. However, resource constraints threaten to rear its ugly head; 4% described resource constraints as a major pain point.

Alcino Donadel
Alcino Donadel
Alcino Donadel is a UB staff writer and first-generation journalism graduate from the University of Florida. His beats have ranged from Gainesville's city development, music scene and regional little league sports divisions. He has triple citizenship from the U.S., Ecuador and Brazil.

Most Popular