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Higher Education Transformation – 6 Steps to Avoid Disruption

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Higher Education Transformation – 6 Steps to Avoid Disruption

With technological advancements and innovation seeping through every aspect of the world, life as we know it, has drastically changed. From complex systems like banking to simple tasks like streaming a movie online, technology has enhanced our lives like never before.

Likewise, technology is gradually making a mark in the tertiary education system. Although the global pandemic has greatly accelerated the demand for technology, the education sector is no stranger to the benefits of the digital world.

However, whether it was the panic that the pandemic caused, or the gradual inevitable realisation, the flaws of the education system are finally coming to light. For quite a while, several issues, both macro and micro-level, have been clouding the performance of higher education.

On a macro level, there has been a significant shift in the demand for education. The conventional education system has been following a theoretical approach, leaving no room for students to acquire the practical skills and knowledge for a job.

With unconventional career paths and job descriptions being introduced in the job market, candidates are showing more interest in investing in skills rather than a degree. Emsi, a market analytics firm, reported in a survey that of the adults wishing to attain some sort of education, 59% are considering enrolling in certification programs, or a short course, instead of a degree, with a noticeable shift of where students plan to obtain their education.


The shift in demand coupled with the pandemic has resulted in fewer and fewer adults enrolling in a degree-based education, which is leading to a great shortage in funds for universities. A fundamental weakness in universities’ funding models is their overreliance on tuition. The loss in tuition due to fewer enrolments has translated into a major losses for universities.

The butterfly effect of a weak funding model has caused an overall underdeveloped Target Operating Model, which encompasses the business model, the revenue model, and the service-delivery model. A flaw in one model can cause a ripple effect throughout the organisation, which is currently being experienced by many universities and colleges.

A flaw in one model can cause a ripple effect throughout the organisation, which is currently being experienced by many universities and colleges.

To address these challenges, organisations are realising the need to re-imagine the way they operate and adapt to the changes they are faced with. Futuristic universities are taking this pandemic as an opportunity to invest in digital transformations and come out stronger. 13% of colleges and universities are engaging in digital transformation today, 32% are developing a strategy, and 38% are exploring the world of digital transformation.

Digital transformation has enabled universities to open doors to endless possibilities. Universities can now experience various benefits, some of them being:

  1. A cloud-based system with the highest level of cybersecurity
  2. Accommodating funding models that can be maintained with budget constraints
  3. Student-centric education that supports students, from enrolment, learning to job placement and alumni engagement
  4. Flexible degree programs
  5. The Interoperable Learning Record: a record of a person’s achievements and skills that can be efficiently matched to relevant employers

Click here to see how the largest organisation in the UK got it right!

While the benefits of digital transformation are immense, they are often left unrealised even before the transformation is fully implemented. At HOBA, we aim to ensure that your digital transformation is not lost in the process, and that its benefits are experienced long after its completion. Our experience with multiple digital transformations has enabled us to devise a 6-step plan to ensure that your transformation is carried out as seamlessly as possible.

At the core of our plan, we place the Target Operating Model (TOM), as a sound TOM is a major step towards a successful digital transformation. We aim to clearly set our goals for the TOM from the start and ensure that we have a clear view of them at all times. 

Have a go at our free training to see how digital transformation can help you reach your goals faster than ever!

Step 1 : Focus

This step involves agreeing on the vision, the strategies to be followed, the objectives that will be targeted and the measures that will be taken during the transformation journey. It’s crucial to ensure that everyone is on the same page and aligning focus to the same end goal. All these aspects fall under the Business Motivation Model. Remember – it is a process primarily driven by people.

Step 2: Control

This step is based on the Governance Model and manages the overall design, decisions, scope and risks of the transformation. The governance framework and processes are determined, as well as the key stakeholders and their objectives.

Step 3: Analyse

What is the current state of the organization, and where do you want to be after the transformation?

This step emphasises on the Current Operating Model, which provides the baseline to build the TOM onto. The pain points of the organisation’s elements – people, process, technology – are identified to be addressed later on.

FYI – You may want to have a look at the do’s and don’ts of organisation transformation at this very step.

Step 4: Evaluate

Based on the Benefits Model, this step focuses on the qualifying and quantifying the business benefits that the organization wants to realise. Benefits are evaluated and prioritized according to importance.

Step 5: Design

This step is fully dedicated to the big picture, which is the Target Operating Model. It involves working towards designing a system that can directly drive the benefits the organization wishes to realise. The proposed changes in Step 4 are targeted to address the identified pain points within the organisation.

Step 6: Implement

Among others, the final step is what sets HOBA apart from other Business Consultants and Architectures. Unlike others, HOBA puts a great emphasis on ensuring the implementation is as seamless as possible. Planning a transformation is easy, but it’s the implementation phase where most transformations fall apart.

This step uses functional blueprints and the Road Map Model, bringing together the previous steps to develop and implement the physical aspect of the transformation.

Following these steps allows us to carry out a fool-proof business transformation. We may face challenges on the way, of course, but our system allows us to identify and target them effectively, without disrupting the transformation.

Feeling like it’ll take a long time to make the shift? Check out my 6-week Agile Transformation Accelerator course to get access to actionable insights and ground breaking techniques that’ll fast-track your transformation.

The rapid evolution of digital innovations is having a significant impact on the corporate sector, and it’s time the education sector realised the importance of it, too. HOBA understands that conducting a lecture online is digitization, not digital transformation. Digital transformation involves a complete shift in the overall operations of the university, and we are well equipped and skilled to face the challenge.

The education sector is going through rapid demand changes, and to keep up, universities need to reinvent and design new ways to cater to the changing demand. The transformation will not be easy or quick, but our classic education system needs to undergo it to be in a stronger position to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Universities, if you want to thrive in tomorrow’s world, making changes today is crucial.

Thank you for reading this!


Heath Gascoigne

P.S. If you want to join our Business Transformator community of like-minded Business Transformators, join the community on the Business Transformator Facebook Group here.

P.P.S. If you want to learn more about business transformation, check out The Business Transformation Playbook here.

For more information, visit https://www.hoba.tech.

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Heath Gascoigne

Heath Gascoigne

Hi, I'm Heath, the founder of HOBA TECH and host of The Business Transformation Podcast. I help Business Transformation Consultants, Business Designers and Business Architects transform their and their clients' business and join the 30% club that succeed. Join me on this journey.

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