Bob Banerjee – Solutions Architect, campusM Mobile Solutions, Ex Libris
First generation campus mobile apps typically had two origins:
- An expansion on a student record system app
- A mobile version of the existing university website
Expanding a student record system app is largely a one-size-fits-all solution, throwing all the functionality at everyone even if it’s irrelevant.
But fitting a whole website of information into an app may not be much better. A university website can be huge. One website needs to fulfill the needs of every type of user whether they are coming for an open day, applying, adding/dropping courses, checking their grades, asking for transcript 20 years later, making a donation, and even manage internal functions like pay stubs.
So the obvious problem of turning a website into an app is that it ultimately won’t fit on a 4×2 inch screen.
The common solution among most universities seems to be a fragmented approach. The average university has multiple apps, and, at a quick glance, many universities have 10+ apps each! This seems to be unique to higher education – banks don’t have separate apps for checking balances and paying bills. Airlines don’t have two apps for checking in and checking mileage status. Other industries have found ways to consolidate considerably different functions into user-friendly apps (with varying degrees of success).
So the alternative for universities is a similar consolidation strategy. campusM uses a consolidated approach in two distinct ways:
- Using profiles, many different types of people will download the university app, but each user will be presented with a personalized set of functions and information best suited to their expected usage while removing any irrelevant functions. Why show a student an alumni donation function or show a prospect a grade checking tool?
- The app acts as a unifying platform for disparate systems such as Student Record Systems, CRM, LMS, Library Information Systems, Transport, Laundry, and PC Availability systems. The aggregated systems become easier to find, easier to use, and give the user a 360-degree view of their campus world without hopping from system-to-system.
A one-size-fits-all solution won’t work because most of it is irrelevant to an individual. But a consolidated, personalized solution will succeed because the university can bring together many types of people and many types of systems into a single campus mobile app.
For more information, watch this brief video:
Re-posted from the campusM blog.