What Your Enterprise Can Learn From Education- Part 3 of 3



This is part three of a 3-part series on how education is driving innovation enterprise mobility, and why organizations can’t afford to ignore these trends.Education is leading the way in mobile collaboration and administration with new tools that are changing the way traditional processes take place. Collaboration:

We work very closely with Blackboard, one of the leading providers of education technology. Collaborate is a Blackboard application which we worked on extensively to bring to iPads, iPhones and Android devices in multiple formats. Collaborate focuses on collaboration between and among students and faculty members, in the context of a classroom and a specific course.

It used to be that what happened in a classroom remained in that classroom. One teacher and 20 students were the only ones privy to that content. Now, with Collaborate, that content is being disseminated across a much wider audience. They’re able to capture the best of it and transmit it across the entire set of teachers that are teaching similar classes. By building collaboration around the content, Blackboard is helping to innovate a completely new way of teaching.

So why is this relevant to an enterprise? Collaboration in the enterprise follows similar patterns. For example, when two salespeople are working on similar deals, but in two different geographies where they wouldn’t naturally connect with each other. The collaboration tools are there today to be able to put them together automatically based on the context of what they’re doing. And because the solutions are available across mobile platforms, wherever they are, at whatever point in time, they can instantaneously collaborate to maximize the chances that their enterprise will win a particular deal.


The last area we’ll highlight is administration. When you’re a kid applying to college, the applications and the whole process, essay writing, etc., is phenomenally tedious and time consuming. It’s not just that way for the student, but also for the schools, because they have to manage and review the mountains of paperwork that candidates generate when they apply.

One of the top graduate business schools in the country worked with us to put together a completely revamped admission process that lives in an iPad application. Every single piece of work that students have submitted, their essays, their applications, their scores, everything comes in on one single screen and the admission officers are able to instantly collaborate on applications with each other.

They can not only collaborate, they’re able to annotate and put in notes with details of which kid deserves what kind of attention. There’s also a calendar that allows them manage the entire workflow.

The app has streamlined the entire admissions process. This is a big lesson because typically what happens with most enterprise customers that we work with, is that there are processes that you don’t even think that can be put on an iPad or on a mobile device.

When we first went into the university, they never thought they could put their admissions process on an iPad. But when we went in and talked through the whole thing we discovered innovative ways, including a very significant amount of customization around the device capabilities itself, to bring in all the tools that they need to complete the admissions process.

When companies start looking at these kind of processes, which are frequently expense management and supply chain process, we look at which individual processes we can break down into pieces and manage on their devices, rather than trying to just emulate them in a desktop environment.

Another example of a company that has been doing significant innovation is Hershey’s. 6,000 of their sales reps used to have binders which were about 300-400 pages that they had to carry everywhere. Now, those binders are gone, replaced by a process where everything that the sales rep does in their entire day is done on the iPad-based systems that they have implemented.

These are a few of the things that we have done which are similar to the process innovation the education industry is driving. Another example is a project that we did for Intel.

Intel actually has their own airline to fly between their different campuses. Their entire booking system was built by us. What’s interesting is that the booking system is available only on their iPads and phones.

So, now we’re skipping one generation and saying we don’t really need a full-blown desk-bound system. If I want to fly from Fulsome to Santa Clara, I just do it, using my iPhone. I’m in the middle of a meeting and after the meeting I need to go to another campus, and I just book it right there and go.

To recap very briefly, there’s a lot of learning that you can take from educational institutions in terms of how they are innovating in mobile technology. There are three main areas: content, collaboration, and administration.

In each of these, you can start looking at enterprise companies typically starting to break up some of their processes, some of their analytic structures, and some of their IT systems and try to recreate them–not just putting a patch on it and saying, “We have this web system, and now it’s available on mobile,” or, “We had this Windows-based application, now it’s available on mobile.” That’s not how the companies that are getting the most out of mobile are doing it. Instead, they are starting fresh and thinking about the process itself. That is going to be a huge benefit, in terms of costs savings, social benefits, and employee satisfaction benefits. _________________________________________________________________ This is Part 3 of 3 of a multi-part series on how education is driving changes far beyond the gates of colleges campuses. Sudhir Kulkarni, is a Managing Partner at Sourcebits, and spoke at the recent Technology Symposium on the topic of “How Education is Driving Trends in Content, Collaboration, and Administration…and Why It Matters To Enterprise.”