Today we announced the acquisition of a very talented UK-based company called oMbiel, which will form the core of a new Ex Libris business unit, Campus Mobile Solutions. oMbiel specializes in the development of a SaaS platform of mobile and portal solutions for higher education. Its flagship product, campusM, enables universities to create a unified digital experience for campus users, including branded and personalized services on any device and across every digital touch point, including portals and native mobile apps. With campusM, universities can offer their users services that span a range of academic, administrative and social activities on campus. For some examples see campusM as a student portal at Imperial College, campusM integrated with student services at Queensborough Community Collegeand campusM targeting prospective students at Aston University. The main target audience is students, but one of the unique advantages of campusM is that universities can very easily update, enhance and create new app modules, including apps targeting other audiences such as prospective students, alumni, parents, faculty and staff. All through a single, SaaS-based platform. Very cool!
The incorporation of mobile campus solutions is a natural extension for us at Ex Libris because it focuses on two key strategic aspects: addressing the issues around student engagement and the users’ digital (and mobile) experience. Why is student engagement important? The competition for student enrollment on a global basis is intensifying, partly driven by changes in the funding structure of higher education, as well as rising higher education costs that are driving ever-growing scrutiny from prospective students and parents alike. Student engagement is also crucial in the learning process, where studies show (for example: here and here) that engaged students experience greater satisfaction which in turn leads to higher attendance and completion rates. And when student success, retention and graduation rates are some of the most important metrics, the ability to monitor students engagement and to identify potential risks, is becoming critical too.
Why mobile? Well, because students spend a lot of their time on mobile devices, and are now increasingly “…ready to use their mobile devices more for academics, and they look to institutions and instructors for opportunities and encouragement to do so.” ( ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2013). It’s reasonable to predict that the need for information and services accessible on a mobile device will only grow, based on the habits of prospective, college-bound students.
So, what does it mean for our large community of Ex Libris and campusM users?
We will continue to work with academic, research and national libraries, and continue to research, develop and introduce new products and solutions in the realm of library and scholarly services. We will now also work closely with other institutional stakeholders, primarily with campus IT, student affairs, teaching and learning departments and other groups on campus who are involved in—and who drive—student engagement activities.
Stay tuned for exciting developments ahead for library and other campus users.