Life on a Connected Campus: Using Technology to See the Big Picture

Midmorning on a connected campus: Jasmine stops by the cafeteria before her first class. She waves her phone over a reader to gain entry and to access a meal from her unlimited plan, then selects a bagel and juice to go before heading out. Her phone allows her entry to the classroom building, then the library, where she uses it to check out a book. Because her next class starts in only an hour, Jasmine orders ahead for her lunch and then stops by a food locker to get it. After class, she’s able to grab a few items from the local market using campus flex dollars. Then she sits down with her roommate to select next year’s dorm room on her phone. Student life has never been more connected.

Infograph of Challenges in Higher Education Staffing ShortagesAsk anyone working on a university campus, and they’ll confirm they are not immune to the market disruptions affecting virtually all businesses. In a recent CBORD Insights* survey of higher education professionals, more than 70% said they are experiencing staffing shortages, supply chain problems, and the effects of inflation on a regular basis. And many agreed this is having an impact on their ability to provide the services that students and staff expect.

Technology offers multiple tools to help address market disruptions. Mobile payment and access credentials can reduce the demands on card services and security. Automated menu management can increase efficiency and reduce waste, helping to address supply chain and inflation issues. Automated self-serve kiosks can help address labor shortages while enabling students to grab and go. The list goes on.

But with campus automation, the ultimate value lies not just in each individual solution but in the synergies created across solutions. This can be seen on a CBORD connected campus, where various card, food, housing, and access management systems are linked and integrated to improve the overall student/staff experience. Too often universities use different systems across facilities, functions, and locations. With a connected campus, they can command a full suite of solutions that support residential life, foodservice, student purchases, security, and more.

A connected campus offers system administrators full control over operations, along with a complete look at data and insights, which are key to increasing efficiency, consistency, and satisfaction. For example, universities can use students’ mobile devices to track purchases on and off campus, as well as attendance, building access, and participation in campus events. They can closely monitor foodservice across a network of facilities to track supply usage and adjust menus to manage inventory and costs. And they can more closely manage security issues, quickly modifying building access privileges when needed. In short, integration gives decision-makers more operational levers of control.

System integration also means that more data — from internal and external sources such as vendors — is available for analytics, leading to deeper insights and sharper predictive capabilities. The university can then take a more data-driven approach to managing operational costs and delivering the right experiences to students and employees. Data may also point to new revenue streams, such as transaction fees from off-campus dining.

Finally, a connected campus helps make the university more agile in the face of ongoing change. With a data-driven view of the impacts, decision-makers can respond with greater speed and precision to labor shortages, supply chain issues, inflation, and other disruptions. And with the centralized systems, new tools and capabilities can be brought online without costly, complicated development projects. Enable your campus to face challenges and change through connectivity.

CBORD Insights proprietary research, Customer Priorities Survey, Sept 2022, n=276.

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