Care and Connectivity Must Rule UK Campuses

WiFi: Why a connection shared can be a problem halved.

In its 2020 strategy, The University and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) outlined, unsurprisingly, that “digital advances are changing the ways students want to explore their options and engage with universities and colleges”.

But 2020, as we all know, has turned many strategies on their heads and for the education sector it’s now the universities and colleges who have had to change the way they engage with their students. But, institutions could, and will, use crisis situations to sharpen strategies as thoughts are already turning to the outbreak’s longer-term implications for beyond the 2020-21 academic year.

The lesson here is that it’s now not the most technologically advanced colleges or campuses that will outrun the competition, it will be the most caring – and it’s time we stopped treating those two things separately.

Rewind only 10 years and lectures up and down the country were being delivered via PowerPoint – or something like it – to students avidly taking notes in good old fashioned notebooks. While over in the halls of residence, students were connecting one laptop to a LAN cable – things have changed fast, so yes, the need for fast, secure and reliable WiFi within the education environment is unprecedented. But what’s the real cost?

Futureproofing campuses by installing hyper-fast Internet connectivity will only take success so far. Yes, it means course content can be delivered – from anywhere – via Teams, yes it means student support or bursary allowances can be processed quickly, and yes, it does mean greater collaboration between faculty staff, students, support, and administrative departments. But what good is this when there is still potential to fail students?

University life is one of the biggest transitions our young adults are going to make. The distance from home, the sudden fending for one’s self, the shift from being financially dependent to financially responsible can in some cases be too heavy a pressure on someone not yet 20. So care – as well as connectivity – must be rule of thumb. And if we start with the latter, the former will follow.

Gone are the days of the one student, one laptop trend. This generation is coming from homes where they’ve had the luxury of private networks allowing unlimited streaming of multiple devices without lag or falter. These students want an always-on, home-from-home experience the second they unlock their dorms. Give them that, and you’re getting them off to the best start. You’re providing access to course materials, social media, Skype for ringing home, campus intranet and all on-site support services from student unions to accommodations services and financial aid.

Beyond that, you’re developing infrastructure with care at its core. Once in place, there are myriad ways of enhancing that network so that it can start interpreting data; start noticing patterns between dwindling attendance to concentrated location hotspots to help identify students – at any point in their further or higher education career – who may not otherwise be speaking up and may otherwise fall under the radar…

So you see networks really are important. Digitally transform one with tech, and you develop another with care.

Richard Beeston is Product Director at Daisy Corporate Services.

This article was originally published in Public Sector Focus March/April 2020

WiFi: Why a Connection Shared Can Be a Problem Halved

Richard Beeston, Director of Product, explains why true digital transformation in the education sector isn’t about caring about the technology, but ensuring that the technology cares.

In its 2020 strategy, The University and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) outlined, unsurprisingly, that “digital advances are changing the ways students want to explore their options and engage with universities and colleges”.

By now, there aren’t many of us left who don’t know this. Indeed, one of the prominent buzz phrases of the day is digital transformation and at its simplest level, it means transforming an organisation’s core business to better meet customer needs by leveraging technology and data. In education, that target customer is largely students, though it also includes faculty staff, alumni, and others.

Almost every college and university in the UK has already either embarked on or at least identified its own need for a digital transformation strategy; understanding that in order to be competitive in a period of unprecedented change, they need to be providing “smarter campuses” to better attract and serve both staff and students alike. But while understanding the need to transform is great, how many of us actually understand why they’re doing it and how they can do it in order to make a real difference?

Beating the competition

Curveball: It’s not the most technologically advanced colleges or campuses that will outrun the competition, it will be the most caring – and the lesson here is that it’s time we stopped treating those two things as being mutually exclusive.

Rewind only 10 years and lectures up and down the country were being delivered via PowerPoint – or something like it – to students avidly taking notes down in good old fashioned notebooks. While over in the halls of residence, students were connecting one laptop to a LAN cable – things have changed fast, so yes, the need for fast, secure and reliable WiFi within the education environment is unprecedented. But what’s the real cost?

Futureproofing campuses by installing hyper-fast Internet connectivity will only take success so far. Yes, it means course content can be delivered via Teams, yes it means student support or bursary allowances can be processed quickly, and yes, it does mean greater collaboration between faculty staff, students, support, and administrative departments. But what good is this when there is still potential to fail students?

Connecting your campus with care at its core

University life is one of the biggest transitions our young adults are going to make. The distance from home, the sudden fending for one’s self, the shift from being financially dependent to financially responsible can in some cases be too heavy a pressure on someone not yet 20. So care – as well as connectivity – must be rule of thumb. And if we start with the latter, the former will follow.

Gone are the days of the one student, one laptop trend. This generation is coming from homes where they’ve had the luxury of their own personal network allowing unlimited streaming of multiple devices without lag or falter. These students want an always-on, home from home experience the second they unlock their dorms. Give them that, and you’re getting them off to the best start. You’re providing access to course materials, social media, Skype for ringing home, campus intranet and all on-site support services from student unions to accommodations services and financial aid.

Beyond that, you’re developing infrastructure with care at its core. Once in place, there are myriad ways of enhancing that network so that it can start interpreting data; start noticing patterns between dwindling attendance to concentrated location hotspots to help identify students – at any point in their further or higher education career – who may not otherwise be speaking up and may otherwise fall under the radar…

So you see networks really are important. Digitally transform one with tech, and you develop another with care.

This article was originally published in Education Technology Magazine April 2020

Protecting and Monitoring Student Safety [Video]

Daisy and Extreme Networks make security in education easier to achieve by minimising or mitigating any potential risks

Today’s education networks face unique challenges, from having a secure infrastructure capable of supporting modern classroom technology to limited or no visibility of network usage. Additionally, these challenges can create risks for both student and staff safety.

Together, Daisy and Extreme Networks provide campuses with open, software-driven educational networking solutions that are agile, adaptive and secure. Extreme Management Centre technologies give a granular view into student activity and enable IT departments to reduce their risk profile and create a more efficient educational environment.

Watch our video to see how you can maximise network security, student safety, and network performance.

How to Graduate to a First Class Smart Campus [Infographic]

Daisy and Extreme Networks can help you graduate to a smart campus and improve learning outcomes

Having instant access to everything is now the standard expectation for today’s students. Be it accessing course materials, submitting a piece of work or supporting external visitors, if they can’t connect to a reliable network, your campus connectivity needs to work harder.

Luckily, you don’t have to be a genius to work out a solution – that’s what we’re here for.

Take a look at the infographic below to see how Daisy and Extreme Networks can help you graduate to a smart campus by simplifying and transforming your infrastructure to help nurture top-of-the-class digital learning environments.

 

Daisy’s CloudBridge Portal | Cloud Management Made Simple

The simple way to manage your cloud estate

Check out our 60 second video and find out how CloudBridge portal can save you time and give you the visibility and control you need to easily manage your cloud estate.

Manage your cloud services from a single dashboard

With the Daisy CloudBridge Portal, you can easily control your cloud estate from a single dashboard. Add Microsoft 365 licences, allocate them to users, view event logs, analyse billing and reporting, view usage of compute, storage, and network, plus get complete cost visibility including forecasts giving you a view into the future.

Self-serve Microsoft 365 subscriptions at the click of a button

No more requests and time spent waiting for Microsoft 365 subscriptions. With the Daisy CloudBridge Portal, you can add licences in just a few clicks with complete cost visibility, and quickly assign them to users.

Easily add and subtract users and simply allocate licences to each user

You can add users to Microsoft 365 quickly and easily, saving you time and making you more efficient and productive.

View event logs including user history, subscriptions information and subscription changes

View a historical list of events and approval requests, so you are never in the dark and always have an unrestricted view of what’s going on in your cloud estate.

Manage Azure subscriptions and usage

View your Azure usage, costs and reporting as well as all of your subscriptions and users.

Take control with complete cost visibility

The Cloudbridge Portal offers you complete transparency and visibility of your costs. View and export all of your invoices, billing and reporting from one easy to manage location.

View billing and reporting for each service

Dive into each service area for a more granular look at the billing and reporting for each service

View usage of compute, storage, and virtual network

You can easily stay on top of compute, storage, and network to ensure everything runs smoothly and there are no nasty surprises.

See into the future. Forecast future usage and costs

Use predictive forecasting to see into the future to help you make informed decisions without any guesswork.

To find out more about CloudBridge, visit our CloudBridge page or get in touch with one of our cloud experts.

Migrate To Hybrid Cloud [Blog]

Every cloud is unique when you look at them, every one different to its peers. But even in that uniqueness we can group them into types; Stratocumulus. Cirrus. Cumulonimbus and so on. Even more fundamentally, each and every cloud is constructed of water vapour. H2O.

It is the same when you are planning your journey to the cloud. You are unique, your organisation is unique, and your cloud strategy will be too – but that doesn’t mean that you can’t group what you are trying to achieve and distil it down to your fundamental concerns at the same as identifying the benefits and building your business case: organisational agility, productivity, efficiency, scalability and cost-effectiveness.

Every cloud has its silver lining but it is sometimes a little difficult to get it to the mint.

Don Marquis

Don’t think of the uniqueness of your organisation as being a barrier to adopting a cloud strategy – the bespoke nature of hybrid cloud architecture means you won’t be hammering a square peg into a round hole but creating an environment that fits your organisation.

So how do you mint that silver lining of a hybrid cloud strategy?

Which kind of cloud are you?

Firstly, it sounds simple but is often missed, we need to make an inventory of your current state. Identifying all the workloads, your user base and rate of usage for each of these workloads, calculating the cost of compute, storage and networking, defining the security, recovery and continuity needs and finally researching the all legal and compliance implications for these.

Sounds a lot but without this baseline we won’t be able to accurately assess what you have, what you need and what you want to change. Below are some pointers to help evaluate each of these areas and begin to build a picture of your estate.

Sound daunting? Our experts are on hand to help you with as little or as much of this process as you need. Get in touch to find out how we can help.

Make an inventory of workloads

The best place to begin? Making an inventory of all of your organisation’s applications and workflows, such as email systems, finance applications, databases, and CRM systems. Starting from the top and working down.

Next, we determine which workloads are business-critical, whether there is any sensitive data, which of these are prime candidates for public cloud, and which need to be highly available.

It’s a good idea to estimate the effort to move each workload to the cloud and the advantage of doing so; even a simple classification of high effort/low effort, high value/low value will give an idea.

High Effort/High Value Contact Centre High Effort/Low Value Dev/Test
Low Value/High Value Data Warehouse Low Effort/Low Value

Once a birds-eye view of these workloads has been established, the task of planning where each workload should reside becomes easier. This is something your internal teams may want to undertake or we can assist and help produce.

daisy cloudbridge consultation hybrid cloud

Identify User Base & Rate of Usage

Once we have mapped out all of your workloads, their importance to your organisation and where you can gain the most benefit from migrating them to the cloud, the next step is to identify the rate of usage and user base. This is important in order to know how you can go about executing a migration with as little effect on your users and customers as possible as well as what kind of configurations are needed.

Calculate costs

An essential part of any business decision is, of course, costing it out. What kind of level of compute is necessary? How much storage do you need? What are the networking costs? As we know the level of storage required is likely to grow and change, our cloud experts think ahead to minimise future storage costs and other hidden costs that may arise.

Define security & recovery needs

Identify your businesses appetite for risk and requirements to meet industry or customer standards is a vital part of the process; what kind of SLAs need to be in place? What sort of failover and business continuity considerations need to be taken? What are the security implications of the planned migration so far?

With more than 30 years’ experience in business recovery, we have experts on hand to assist with these critical considerations which can have some grey areas and intricacies.

Research legal

Just like for when you are assessing your security and recovery needs, make sure you are aware of the compliance and legal guidelines that your organisation must adhere to. What about future considerations? Getting all information available together at this stage is vital for planning your next steps.

Choose a type of migration

Do you need a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) where the virtual machines (VMs) are configured by the service provider? Or is this something you can do in-house with infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS)?

What about considerations like rolling back from Public Cloud? Is there a path back? Make sure you have a strategy that includes optional paths in the future means that you won’t ever paint yourself into a proverbial corner.

Got some silver already?

If you are already utilising a hybrid cloud architecture and are interested in changing things up, this may still help. If not, get in touch with one of our cloud experts and we can talk through your requirements and advise you on the optimal path and how we can help.

Thinking of starting your cloud journey, or just need advice on your current cloud architecture? Get in touch today with one of our experts, and we can help talk through your requirements.

University of Southampton

Daisy_Corporate_Services_University_of_Southampton

Every year, the clearing process becomes more intense. With competition fiercer than ever, our telephony infrastructure was leaving us behind. Daisy designed a cost-effective solution that enabled us to handle calls efficiently and improve the quality of the service to our prospects. Because of this. we are now able to use the data generated by the solution to inform staffing levels and marketing campaigns for future years and are assessing how else we might utilise the solution to benefit both applicants and current students alike.

Nick Hull, Associate Director (Head of Admissions), University of Southampton.

The Background

The University of Southampton is a world-leading, research-intensive institution. Ranked as one of the UK’s top 20 universities and recently securing a position as one of the top 100 in the QS World University rankings for 2019, the university boasts more than 150 years’ experience in delivering world-class education.

Each year, starting on the morning of A Level Results Day, the University of Southampton’s phone lines can receive in excess of 10,000 calls during a mass call event known as “clearing”, where prospective undergraduate students yet to secure a place on a higher education (HE) course wait to be matched with places that the institution hasn’t yet filled.

In order to deliver the high-quality and stress-free service that prospective students expect, the University needed a robust, reliable, high-performance telephony system that could easily cope with the surge in demand come results day.

The Challenge

The institution’s method of call handling during the clearing process relied on a traditional “hunt group” – a method of distributing phone calls from a single telephone number to a group of several ISDN phone lines where a number of people are then are set up to handle the incoming calls.

Scaling their infrastructure during peak periods was proving to be both difficult and costly;requiring significant investment in physical ISDN hardware in order to meet only temporary demand and leaving little room for the flexibility needed to meet any additional capacity requirements on the day. This meant that many calls were not answered and there was no facility to leave a message leading to frustration and a level of service below that which the university strived to provide.

Recognising the limitations of its existing infrastructure, as well as the limited access to key marketing data and with a desire to enhance customer service, the University contacted their incumbent unified communications suppler, Daisy, keen to explore a simple yet effective entry into the cloud.

As well as ensuring that any inbound calls during clearing were answered as quickly as possible, the ability to gain visibility of the quantity and timing of calls, the success of various marketing campaigns, and the ability to direct queued callers to the online form was of paramount importance to the business. Therefore, any proposed solution would need to facilitate measuring the success of any marketing activity, enabling them to better understand their student population and their origin.

The Solution

Facilitating the University of Southampton’s need for increased capacity and improved efficiency during clearing, Daisy proposed “Clearing in the Cloud”, a solution that leverages cloud technology for the processing of calls and mitigating bottlenecks caused by existing equipment and ingress.

After undergoing a detailed design and consultation stage, Daisy’s dedicated team set about implementing and testing the new platform, ensuring call flows would work for the desired outcomes.

By moving to a cloud-managed solution, the university would mitigate the costly and labour-intensive process of installing additional hardware and instead benefit from a solution that can scale both up and down as demand changes.

Clearing in the Cloud allows callers to dial one of 10 local rate 033 numbers each linked to a specific marketing source. These calls were then presented to the Daisy system and delivered to one of 90 agents. From here, calls are processed within the cloud and callers are either held in a queue or played a series of messages highlighting key marketing messages or, more importantly, urging callers to complete the clearing process online rather than wait in a queue.

Daisy were available throughout the clearing process in the event of any issues and are now looking to assist with the evaluation of data now on the system.

The Result

Today, the University of Southampton is able to see how many students called throughout the clearing process, with added visibility on how many calls were queued. This means that next year’s staffing levels can be aligned well in advance.

What’s more, the reporting functionality enables staff to determine the success of certain marketing streams, enabling them to focus on and, where necessary, realign marketing tactics for the coming year.

In addition, the university saw a 56% increase in online applications which they attribute to the promotion of online applications via the queue messaging function played to callers waiting to be transferred to an agent.

As a trusted partner, Daisy are looking at evaluating the service and enhancing it further for 2019. In addition, as part of university’s unified communications strategy, SIP trunking is to be deployed on campus.

CX Whitepaper | Delivering a Digital Customer Experience (CX) for Today’s Mobile Consumer [Whitepaper]

In this customer experience white paper, we discuss the digital customer experience (CX) and how it has shifted from a “nice to have” to an essential service.

More than ever, customer experience (CX) is shaped and delivered through digital interactions. While the majority of customer communications are still voice-based, consumers now rely more heavily on digital methods, such as email, SMS, web chat and social media. They expect the flexibility to interact through the medium of their choice, wherever they are. And, they expect to be able to switch between one medium and another while they are on the move.

The latest market research puts this reality into perspective. 9 out of 10 consumers want absolute omnichannel service – they expect a seamless experience when moving from one communication method to another, such as phone to text or chat to phone. 57% of customers would rather contact companies via digital media such as email or social media rather than use voice-based customer support. At the same time, consumers are now empowered by social media. Over one third of the world’s population has active social accounts. These consumers are comfortable posting their opinions and observations about their experiences on social media. In this environment, a negative customer service story can easily go viral.

This whitepaper provides more stats like this, discusses the digital customer experience and how it has shifted from a “nice to have” offering to an essential service, before providing an overview of the digital expectations and habits of today’s consumer and offers practical next steps for transforming customer experience from dated to digital.

Bright Futures Start in the Cloud

How scalable cloud solutions can reduce waiting times during the clearing process.

“Digital strategies” and “shifts to the cloud” are not new topics of conversation within the Education Sector. In fact, they’re now arguably as ubiquitous as chatting about our inclement weather. The difference however, is that we are now seeing the creation of digital strategies which formalise and structure this aspiration to shift to the cloud and turn a lot of hot air into forward momentum.
Continue reading “Bright Futures Start in the Cloud”