The core elements of Monash University’s Digital Transformation Strategy

The emergence of the new tech-savvy student has changed the game for the higher education sector in Australia. The rise of mobile, online and personal devices has shifted student learning expectations, who now expect anytime, anywhere customised learning supported by new tech.

With digital disruption here to stay, universities must adapt and innovate or risk rapid loss of market share. And while most universities recognise moving towards a digital approach is the way forward, it also brings with it significant IT and organisational challenges.

Ahead of Higher Education Digital Transformation 2015, Richard Palmer, Director of ICT Coordination at Monash University explores the the fundamental elements of Monash’s  approach to digital transformation, and how they are positioning and integrating IT into their wider business in order to improve productivity and learning outcomes.

Below is an extract from the article. To read the full article Three core elements of Monash University’s digital transformation strategy click here


As students increasingly turn to new channels such as Facebook, Twitter or other online platforms to communicate and seek information, it seems like logical for universities to integrate these platforms into their wider IT strategy.

But Richard says it’s actually quite dangerous to think about things like Facebook as belonging to the university’s IT strategy, as they are part of the students’ world, not the university’s. Even marketing needs to respect social media as common ground, rather than a university-owned medium, like the website.

Another core challenge for IT is to provide the right platforms to support multi-device learning across the university.

“Our students often bring three or four devices onto campus and the predominance of them are small format – a tablet, a phone and a notebook is  common for students these days. So making sure that everything that we put online is able to seamlessly work across all formats is important,” he says.

Despite the rapid up-take of personal devices amongst students, Monash has leveraged existing technology to reach students on these new platforms, rather than integrate new technology simply for the sake of it.

“We’ve generally avoided iOS and Android apps and stayed with pure HTML5 wherever we can as a basic strategy. While we’ve got a few specifically targeted apps, our platform independent strategy is playing out pretty well. We’re already seeing a change in the most predominant smartphone platform and expect the churn to continue,” Richard explains.

And this ‘less is more’ approach has had big benefits when it comes to cloud integration.

“Integration between systems is critical.  We’re finding that the tools we use for in-house integration aren’t always the right ones for integrating with the cloud, so we’re moving to a much lighter weight and more tactical approach to integration,” Richard says.

Taking on cloud services has posed other challenges.

“We now have a lot more vendors that are critical to our daily operations, not just third level support of systems and infrastructure. We have put a lot of focus on maturing our vendor management processes.

In the last twelve months we have taken two major steps, last year we extended our IT Service Management (ITIL) processes to include vendors at the contractual and operating process level. We’ve had to move away from the IT team knowing every intricate detail of what’s going on and trust our vendors to deliver their part of the overall picture.

Currently we’re working on a Master Service Integration layer to help orchestrate and manage everything. We simply didn’t have enough operational visibility of what was happening across our own space plus our vendors and, because of this, we were less able to take advantage of a key benefit of the cloud – the ability to move workload to the best price-performance location at will,” Richard says.

Read further how Monash is revising all student interaction and directly aligning IT to the overall business model in the full article here

Richard Palmer is presenting at Higher Education Digital Transformation 2015. For more information call +61 2 9229 1000 or email


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