Will universities rise or fall with reform?

Underneath the surface, we’re seeing a radical shift central to the strategic direction of a university.

Sure, we know the government is going to pay less and the students will pay more, but has the full scale of change been grasped yet? I think not.

I recently caught up with one person in the thick of it; Stephen Weller, Chief Operating Officer & Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Corporate) at the Australian Catholic University. He explained:

“Universities are not yet ready for the whole issue of price competition. If the market is deregulated on price, it’s going to fundamentally change how we work, and I don’t know if we have that expertise yet.

“As a result of a competitive market, universities are much clearer about value proposition, marketing, experience, the use of technology etc, but there’s a lot of work around monetising which we’re yet to do.”

Preparing for the unknown

The change is driven from government paying less, which will be a deficit made up by the student; an area Stephen warns is not currently front of mind:

“From a university perspective, we’ll get the same amount of money, because we’ll pass the cost on. Many students aren’t asking what it’s going to look like in 2016. There’s more concern around HECS.

“We know the price for 2015, because the government’s only changing from 2016, but if you’re a student commencing next year and the government’s changes come through, you’ve only got certainty for year one of a three-year degree.

“When people start to pay more, they will expect more. There’s clearly an issue of expectation management. It’s an area where the sector has significantly improved over the last four years, because it’s moved into a competitive environment. But there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

Increasing expectations

Students have previously based their decisions around questions like: ‘What brand am I getting?’ More recently, they’ve asked: ‘What experience am I getting?’

Change will see the concept of: ‘What price am I paying?’ If the demand-driven system is also extended to private providers, it’s really going to put the emphasis on value.

Another value factor to battle is recruitment ratings. University was effectively a guarantee to get the right job. Declining graduate employment rates (despite many coming from additional macro factors) will put the spotlight on guarantees on return.

“The student experience has come in line with the way learning is delivered, but there’s still a strong desire for the university experience. The focus will be on the end result, looking at how many students got placed in a job after leaving each university. Students will be able to benchmark campus for campus and be much savvier in that regard.

“There’s huge potential for a positive change from all this, making ourselves more nimble and responsive in the same way other industries do. We can really thrive,” Stephen explains.

Becoming a more commercial entity

Terms like commercial entity, ROI and managerialism haven’t been top of the list in terms or describing a university, but Stephen confirmed its language that’ll start to be widely used:

“Universities are either incredibly bureaucratic or incredibly resilient. My view is they’re both. They can be slow to move; they’re traditional institutions. But they don’t have to be. We responded to amalgamations and demand, and as a result our university has grown from 12,000 to 30,000 students.

“The key is going to be to understand cost. What does a Bachelor of Business cost? At the moment we don’t have to work out what it costs, because the price is fixed.

“That whole notion of how you bundle price and meet expectation; that’s new to the sector in Higher Ed. It’s also new to the consumer. The key message I would say is: you have to be student-centric. You can’t just say it. Put the student at the centre of your business and ask yourself: what is the student’s return on investment? What are they going to get that makes us a better proposition than another university?”

Published ahead of Higher Education Revenue Models 2014

Universities missing a trick for generating revenue

Universities have always had a complex mission around the mix of what they do; from teaching through to research and community engagement. We’re now seeing a new type of demand – that of economic development.

For the Group of Eight and other Universities there’s going to be a growing focus on strengthening collaboration with business and contributing to productivity in the economy. International links also look set to contribute more significantly.

To gain a little more insight on where the potential lies both now and in the future, ahead of his presentation at Higher Education Funding,  I caught up with Robert Chalmers, Managing Director at Adelaide Research and Innovation Pty Ltd, Chair of Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia Inc and Commercial Directors Convenor, Group of Eight.

What do you anticipate to be new funding streams on the horizon?

There is an increasing focus on accessing philanthropic funding streams within universities and we’ve seen a number of major fund raising campaigns launch recently. A number of others are now going through that same process.

Philanthropic funding will be more significant in the future. If you compare Australia to the US, we’re well behind the level of contribution of philanthropy to the funding mix that you might see in the US – I’ve no doubt that will be a big focus.

In response to reductions in funding from government, particularly from a Federal level, there is definitely a lift in interest accessing alternative funding from the private sector. Either from business, industry or venture, or from high net worth individuals.

On the outer edge of new funding streams, something that may not provide a major contribution initially, but will be part of the mix as we go forward, is crowd sourced funding.

Crowd sourcing has an impact beyond just the funding model in validating the promoted concept and improving engagement, but you certainly see the potential of that with things like Kickstarter, the use of Pozible by Deakin and so on. It’s still early days, small start, but into the future, it will be part of a hybrid of different funding streams universities will be juggling.

Do you see any common opportunities missed that could be generating revenue?

When we look at the broader issue of connection and value creation – rather than immediate revenue – the alumni connections are crying out for better engagement. I speak to a lot of people about these issues; all of us recognise that’s an area where universities are not harnessing the connections they build with their students, adequately, after their time with the institution – especially in the context of their commercial interactions.

What obstacles need to be overcome to release the potential for generating commercial interest?

I’d highlight three: awareness of existing successful stories of engagement and impact, awareness of the pathways to engagement, and the focus on areas of need.

Often, universities focus their marketing efforts around the teaching and learning part of the agenda; the students. We’re not so good at marketing the benefits of our research engagement, for our partners, our clients, and the broader community. We’ll talk to research quality and our research eminence, but we’re not systematically focused on talking to the end output or impact of that research and the impact of innovation on productivity.

As a result, people are not aware of what’s out there right now, and what’s making a difference; so they have less appetite to engage. We’re now working to target stories of impact in a digestible format to the person in the street.

We need to concentrate on identifying needs in the community, and bring those back into Universities, so that we can see how we can hook research capacity up to that need and produce a result.

What’s the current focus at Adelaide? Where are you targeting your efforts?

The promotional effort is a very important one for us as a sector, to engage better.

At Adelaide, we’re also looking at our international partnerships, especially the more promising ones, in areas like the US and China. International connections are one of the fastest growing areas of engagement and income. However, we still suffer from tyranny of distance, and there may be some cultural competencies that people need to develop a bit better to engage in the region.

We’ve also done a lot more joint networking sessions with industry associations – to try to bring researchers together with those needs in the industry. The aim is to reach out and understand what the needs are, and then connect capability to them.

4 marketing essentials from Google, Facebook and LinkedIn

Today marks the start of our 2014 Digital Financial Services Summit and as a content marketer it’s a personal favorite from our portfolio.

This morning kicked off with Google, LinkedIn and Facebook all talking about their latest developments and it was interesting stuff. It genuinely makes me excited to be working in this field.

There seemed to be some real change in the room from even just 12 months ago. People are really starting to ‘get it’ when it comes to smart, customer centric marketing models but a few key things really stood out.

The linear funnel is dead.

Ok, maybe that’s slightly dramatic but we can’t just move people down a linear path any more. Just like digital in its essence, we’re currently going through exponential growth in the way we service and market to customers. Connecting on a ‘flight path’ now seems more accurate than taking through a funnel.

For example, statistics demonstrate that people on average have taken themselves through 60 per cent of the overall buying cycle by the time they engage with a brand. Using a flight path approach will allow companies to connect across more or those touch points rather than assuming they can be pushed through a linear funnel. It also offers the best chance of being in mind before 60 per cent of the decision has been made.

It’s perhaps these sorts of statistics that drove Barclays Bank in the UK move 25 per cent of their service desks straight into one of the leading supermarkets, Asda.

Content is not.

Content marketing is the leading marketing tactic. It’s been around for years, probably around 150 but in 2014 the barrier is low and the ROI is high.

In Australia, Facebook users who log on everyday (85 per cent of overall users) log on 14 times. There’s a constant hunger for keeping updated and consuming knowledge.

Even on LinkedIn, well known as being a place of job opportunities – Content is currently viewed 7 times more than jobs posts on the platform.

So what’s going to make good content going forward? It’s still the same principle – helping someone and offering value. To tie in with the omni style flight path, and 50 per cent of traffic now through mobile, we’re going to see the rise of Big Rocks. In other words, those big pieces you can slice and dice 5-10 other ways. This generally starts with an eBook, but then splits into articles, videos, webinars, infographics, podcasts etc.

We’ve still got emotions

Many a marketing team is trying to get a grasp on data, targeting, segmenting and creating various different buyer personas. However, some of the most successful marketing campaigns of the year have played more on our emotive sides, a reminder to never forget the powerful impacts a heartfelt campaign can have.

The latest example is the #TDThanksyou from Canadian Bank TD. And yes, I challenge you to watch it without shedding a tear – I failed (6 times). The video with the tagline ‘Sometimes you just want to say thank you’ has had over 10 million views and doesn’t play on any of the features the bank can offer with smart analytics or intelligent services. Nope it focuses on positive awareness and brand reputation, but I tell you what – I’d bank with them!

Mobile mobile mobile

I wish I’d started a kitty for $1 every time the word mobile was mentioned. Mobile has very much become our primary screen and we need to make sure every single landing page is optimized for that.

In any customer centric model, to be with the customer from the start of the journey, there absolutely has to be a massive focus on mobile. It’s about ‘information that moves with you’ – get that wrong and you’ve lost that customer forever.

Drawing on finance as an example, search results show that ‘home loan’ as a term was very much a Monday-Friday search. It completely dropped off at the weekend. However, we’re now seeing a consistent level of search results 7 days a week – this is causing the home lending companies to move into real estate listings to be there on the day as the person is looking at a house – being a mobile tap away from seeing if the buyer will be accepted for funds as the notion pops into their head.

Google are working on a next generation mobile concept for our everyday lives with phones connecting into the internet of things. ‘Project Tango’ (and you can find more here https://www.google.com/atap/projecttango/#project) uses visual cues to map out interactions. The goal of Project Tango is’ to give mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion.’

Only time will tell the next big trends to make an impact, but no matter what tech occurs, it’s never been more important to start planning for being agile as a business. There are things that aren’t in the market yet, but the only way you can take advantage is to set a flexible working model now.

Last note – Did you know that if you’d have bought 100 bit coins in 2010, they’d be worth 761,000 now!?

Join the conversation @digifinance #digifinance

Universities and the Olympics have more in common than you think

Holly Knight, Manager Campus Planning and Strategy at Murdoch University is certainly someone who knows about delivering sustainability. Having recently joined the team at Murdoch University, her first major task is to develop the Murdoch University Campus Masterplan. Holly has spent 15 years working on sustainable development in the private and public sector, and was most recently Head of Sustainability for the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) as part of London 2012

As a result of that role, Holly was invited by the U.S. Embassy and the State Department to tour the USA as part of their International Visitor Leadership Program themed on Sustainable Cities and designed to introduce emerging leaders to their counterparts in the United States. Holly was also invited by UK Trade and Industry, the Foreign Commonwealth Office and the United Nations Environment Programme to visit Japan, Brazil, and various parts of Europe to disseminate best practice learning and in 2012 she was honoured by Building Design Magazine as one of their 50 most influential leaders in sustainability.

Ahead of the Campus Development Summit, I caught up with Holly to see where the potential lies for Australian Universities to create something as inspirational as the Olympics..

What are you excited about in terms of sustainability potential?

Design – Often people think of technology to deliver sustainable buildings when actually good design is more important. For example, asking ourselves; how can we design out waste within our structures and save on resources?

I’ve come from the background of mega construction and the concept of lightweightingbuildings saves money and embodied carbon. It’s not a concept that’s big yet in the educational space here, but it does align really nicely with creating flexible buildings, which is a core feature of education now. We’re looking to design buildings that are fit for the future and be able to modify them down the line without being wasteful.

Technology – In addition to that, there’s exciting stuff happening with technology, particularly around energy. The cost of renewables has decreased massively and it’s at a tipping point for photovoltaics. There are other countries & cities ahead of us in terms of smart infrastructure, but within our masterplan we can start to include and plan for those technological changes, for example electric vehicle networks and off grid energy supplies. . That space in university master planning is really exciting. We’re only just scratching the surface on what we can do.

What’s your current focus at Murdoch?

Murdoch is just about to turn 40 years old and a lot of our buildings are at the stage where they need to be refreshed, refitted and retrofitted. I’m looking at a number of things within our Campus Master Plan. One task is to look at our existing building stock and see what we need to add to ensure we can meet the future demands of our university. We also need to look at our social and informal break out areas and make sure we are meeting the needs of this new generation of students. The other part is our amazing ecological resource at Murdoch – the ‘Bush Campus’. At the moment it’s quite wild, but we’re starting to look at how we open up this amazing resource so that people who come here can enjoy the natural beauty of the place. The overall aim is to manage development and to activate spaces on campus for different purposes and excite people about coming here – not only for their education, but for their social experience. These are the key things; the educational and research spaces, the social spaces and the landscape and natural space..

What were some of your key lessons learnt during time as Head of Sustainability for the Olympics Delivery?

A lot has been transferable both within a facilities space and an educational space. It is a great opportunity to transfer some of the best practice learning from London 2012. In fact we worked with a group of organisations such as the UK Green Buildings Association and the Association of Project Management to develop the Learning Legacy Project, which provided

training and papers on best practice in Sustainable Development, Health and Safety, Engineering etc., they can be found here. This is open source material and can be shared for educational purposes, but also these papers were designed to help demonstrate that sustainability can be delivered easily. It shouldn’t be overcomplicated and it’s actually not a big cost and there is a lot of evidence to say you’ll actually save money long term.

In an environment where budgets are tight, most good facilities management teams are looking at ways they can save operational costs – the efficiency side of that is perfectly aligned with sustainability.

Ensuring sustainability that withstands macro changes – what are you expecting in the future?

As a key service provider on Campus, we need to be constantly evolving and responding to the needs of our organisation. First and foremost being sustainable means we need to ensure we are efficient with our funding to support the University’s key focus of research and education. That means providing smart utility provision and holistic building and grounds management.

Because of the age of Murdoch and a new Strategic Vision – it’s time to reassess a lot of our management and capital strategies and begin a new phase of planning and whole-life costing, that’s great because it almost always favours the most sustainable options. We also need to start future proofing our campus for a changing climate, whether or not that’s re-assessing our thermal strategy or going back to look at groundwater and land management from a long term water supply perspective.

Within utilities, we’re also assessing diversity of energy supply and improvements to efficiency because we’re expecting changes to the cost of power and gas. The strategy will address the challenges and protect us against them.

These are all in an investigation phase at the moment; we’ll hopefully have some answers by the time of the presentation.

You’re running a workshop at Campus Development – tell us a bit about it

I want people to see that sustainable development is easy if you plan for it and set up a clear, well thought out and achievable strategy at the start. It is also important to embrace the notion that it can create a really special place. Students and academics are generally concerned with issues like climate change, and are very open and enthusiastic about sustainable initiatives and helping out with energy efficiency. As a campus facilities team, we are service providers for those people and it’s our duty to give them a place that excites them and helps them perform at their best. It was a wonderful experience to be a part of London 2012, especially when the Games received accolades for sustainability. Sustainability unites people and it’s an area we can influence in the Higher Education Sector – it’s a real opportunity to inspire people.

Is your Human Resources team losing you money?

HR transformation isn’t a project any more – it’s a division that’s constantly looking to evolve itself to suit the needs of the business.

Many organisations are starting to realise there is a lot of transactional activity which could be dealt with in a better way, and enable HR staff to focus on the more value adding, customer-centric activity.

More is being demanded of HR as a function; both in the retention and development of talent, and the relationship with new outsource vendors. Many of the challenges currently stem from systems in place that aren’t always ready for change.

In a recent chat with Grant Baker, General Manager of People and Culture in Shared Services at Energy Australia, he raised some interesting comparisons to share around the area of talent: “If you take the top 200 employees within the company, they’re worth around $58 million dollars. Let’s just imagine for a second that figure was in a share portfolio. You’d expect a lot of robust reporting. Just because it’s humans they don’t seem to have the same value.”

Where to focus

To focus on learning, development and retention, HR will need to improve policy and processes, making self-service accessible – enabling managers to do more and reduce the traffic that comes into the HR function.

This gives HR time to look at what is core to the things which are essential to the business. Enhancing the learning and development offering is a great example – at Energy Australia they’ve been really clear on their approach to broader talent management. Grant explained the wider impact on the team: “HR doesn’t have to be the huge team it used to be; we used to have business partners doing work which could or should have been done elsewhere, either via shared services or automation.

Value in using data

HR metrics is an area which hasn’t previously been done well. Energy Australia shifted the dial for reporting, looking at things from a different point of view: “If we were to quantify the talent in the business clearly from a pay point of view, it’d be a massive number. It’s extraordinary to think we don’t know enough about the people that contribute to that number.”

You need to have a real handle on people, but also how it stacks up from a benchmarking point of view. Take SuccessFactors for example – it’s those tools to really demonstrate cost per hire relevant to the market,” Grant explained

Challenges

This rapid period of change won’t come without its challenges beyond the obvious IT change. The behavioural challenge can have a serious impact on the bottom line of the business.

Grant highlighted the two key sides to this; HR employees and employees previously serviced by HR:

“Managers will have to learn to embrace self-service and be a little less reliant on the former HR business partner for the activities that should be stopped or owned elsewhere.

“There’s a wider challenge for the HR team as well; you’ll be taking out a large part of their quick win work which is extremely valued by their business unit. They’ll now find themselves having to say no to things and really challenging that same unit.”

Join Grant Baker at the HR Transformation Summit 2014 where he’ll be delivering the presentation ‘Driving Culture And Enhancing Employee Engagement For Your HRSSC’.

11 ways the University of Melbourne is blazing a trail for Campus Development

There is a lot to be excited about with the University of Melbourne’s new building known as the Melbourne School of Design.

On the surface alone, the building boasts a 6 Star Green Star Education Design rating. It’s the first building to ever be awarded all 10 innovation points under Green Star, including the recently added credits for life cycle assessment.

The 6 Star Rating represents ‘World Leadership’ in environmentally sustainable building practices. Only 12 buildings in Australia have received a 6 Star Green Star Education Design – v1 rating – the ABP building is the largest to achieve this.

I wanted to take a look under the bonnet of this impressive building, and recently caught up with Project Director Anne Thompson, who explored the key features paving the way for future global campus development:

Built Pedagogy:

  • The building provided an opportunity to express a commitment to built pedagogy, both in terms of design as well as through the construction process. The University has embraced the opportunity to engage with the students during the construction process. Project consultants John Wardle Architects have given lecture series to share the design process; Brookfield Multiplex builders have also delivered a regular construction lecture series.
  • Every fortnight we provided site tours for students and staff and a viewing platform was installed during the demolition phase for the Faculty to hold tutorials overlooking the site.
  • Three time lapse cameras positioned around the site have provided an amazing tool for lecturing, the project team and to capture this one off opportunity. This has been supplemented by actual construction drawings for students.
  • Focusing on sharing how we’re designing and building the new MSD Building has been an extremely rewarding endeavor, which means our students and staff are familiar with the building before they even move in. There is a general buzz of excitement in the Faculty hallways discussing the latest concrete pour and progress.

Campus Integration and Stakeholder relationships:

  • The team at FABP made a substantial commitment to market intelligence. Anne, the builders and even the Dean have frequently contributed to a public blog. It’s updated every few weeks and keeps people informed of progress.
  • The building program is four months ahead of schedule; quite a feat considering development took 18 months in total. The extra time is planned to be spent on specialist heritage reconstruction of the Japanese Room into a specially designed envelope, as well as commissioning and relocation of University staff. Classes start in earnest next year.
  • To match the flexible spaces in the building, the outdoor spaces have full Wi-Fi accessibility allowing tutorials to be delivered outside. This engagement with the campus is planned and driving mobility and collaboration across campus.
  • Beyond teaching, the Faculty is very active within the architecture community and the City of Melbourne; it will be a great space for exhibitions, displays and events, with spaces designed to be changed and tailored as needed.

World Leadership rating with 6 star Green Star achievements:

  • As part of the development, a few trees needed to be removed. The trees were salvaged, dried out and will be used as part of the planned Woodwork studios run by the Faculty, where students will use the timber for the new building. These memories and reuse of the old building materials are gentle reminders of the history of the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning.
  • The building has a host of other features that helped achieve the 6 star rating including; mixed mode heating and cooling, double-glazing, glare reduction, rainwater collection, water recycling, low-energy light fittings, low-water sanitary fittings, levels of natural light, fresh air, bike storage facilities and showers.
  • ‘Innovation’ points were awarded for a pre-occupancy study of the building occupants, eliminating all car parking on the project site and preserving and integrating the National Trust-listed Joseph Reed façade.

Join Anne for a site tour of the new ABP building during Campus Development 2014. For more information, or to book your spot visitwww.campusdevelopment.com.au or call 02 9229 1000.

Systems need to be fixed to drive real efficiency in healthcare

Gold Coast Hospital hit the headlines last year as they rolled out their Patient Admission Prediction Tool mapping tool to predict the number of schoolies expected to hit the emergency department over summer week.

However, the benefits of the tool stretched beyond the school break with the CSIRO Australian e-Health Research Centre’s chief executive David Hansen saying* it could save Queensland hospitals up to $23 million per year through improved efficiency from being able to plan ahead with a good degree of accuracy.

The CSIRO Australian e-Health Research Centre developed the software together with Queensland Health, Griffith University and the Queensland University of Technology.

Ahead of his presentation at Workforce Efficiency in Healthcare, I recently caught up with James Lind, Former Director of Access and Patient Flow at the Gold Coast Hospital to see how tools like this fit into the bigger challenge in healthcare to drive efficiency. He explained that many hospitals are still just focusing on the individual targets rather than looking at the bigger picture.

“The hospital wasn’t performing as it should, particularly the emergency department which is why we looked to redesign in the first place.

“The predictor feature is actually just a tool which every other business uses, the accountability frameworks and the meeting structures that you integrate those tools into to get the desired behavioural results – that’s where we’ve done most of our work.

“Data is really the currency by which we argue. The interpretation is the tricky bit and the devil’s in the detail of what data is or isn’t measuring. Once you’ve got over those few hurdles, you can actually use the data powerfully to understand what the issues are.”

Impressively, the team at the GCH managed to reinforce the governance structure by securing the attendance of the CEO in a weekly operational meeting:

“The meetings are designed around using these tools so we’re able to reinforce the behaviours that need to occur. When you say it’s going to be here next week then something occurs as opposed to doesn’t occur. A lot of that comes down to accountability in governance frameworks. Having the CEO in the weekly operational meeting absolutely reinforces the governance structure. The CEO is going be made or broken by the targets, if they don’t make their targets then they’re going to be fired, so there’s a real need for them to be there too,” explained James.

There’s no doubt that the team has made some real progress:, in the two to three years since they’ve been fixing the system and following the data, there’s been a huge improvement in performance results. Last year the hospital finished within 1 per cent of the NEAT target set – quite an improvement considering Gold Coast Hospital was rated worst in the state just a couple of years ago.

Matching KPIs

A key part to the improvements has been developing a set of KPIs that encompasses the system as a whole, rather than individual figures. James broke down the key to successful measurement:

“If you say you’ve made your NEAT, NEST and budget – if you didn’t achieve another KPI it would be looked at as more of a misdemeanour, and some of them are actually contradictory.

“If you fix the system itself though, the KPIs will flow with the system. If you just try and fix a number it won’t work.

“KPIs have to be easily measurable, even ones that seem a bit trickier to measure. Take satisfaction as an example, sometimes you have to pick surrogates of that, (a surrogate of how an ED works could be the ‘did not wait’ (DNW) rate.) You’ve got to have a combination and look in different dimensions with quality indicators, performance indicators and time indicators.

“Hospitals are complex adaptive systems, if you change one variable all the others will change in turn. The problem is you never know whether it’s good or bad as all the variables aren’t always measured.”

Where next

James has now been seconded by another hospital to implement some of the work from the Gold Coast and insists there are key principles that can make a wholesale difference to efficiency:

“A lot of systems are very similar to each other. The mathematics shows that everything is uniquely the same although people will tell you they’re different, and therefore the problems and the solutions by and large have got the same sort of flavours to them, they’re in slightly different quantities and proportions, but they have the same similar makeup.

Many are still not fixing the systems – more just making a number and hoping it will all to go away.”

So where to from here? In one word, NEST. The team are currently going through their ‘myth busting’ stage, looking at the mathematics of the state to work out the simple things first. For example, long case V start case timing and Smart Scheduling.

*See more: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/using-new-hospital-toolies-to-help-gold-coast-schoolies-20131115-2xm64.html

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