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Digital transformation driving IT spending in higher education

22 Oct 2015

Higher education IT spending in the Asia Pacific region (excluding Japan) is expected to significantly increase by 2019, thanks to digital transformation initiatives, according to new research from IDC.

The research, Best Practices: Enabling Tomorrow’s Tertiary Institutions - Digital Transformations Through Personalized Curricula, Collaborative Ecosystems and Smart Campus Initiatives, forecasts the higher education sector will increase from US$8.7 billion in 2015 to US$10.4 billion in 2019, with a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.2%.

“Higher education institutions in mature economies display a more mature IT spending pattern, where IT spending is shifting focus from hardware to services and software spending components,” explains Shreyashi Pal, market analyst, IDC Government Insights.

“This is because the APEJ tertiary education sector will be increasingly focused on addressing the urgent need to increase cybersecurity priorities of digital assets, reduce IT costs, improve business-IT alignment, and leverage cutting-edge technologies for IT consolidation and streamlining of scarce ICT resources”, Pal explains.

The research highlights the opportunities for higher education in the Asia/Pacific region are rooted in personalised learning, collaborative education, and Smart Campus initiatives.

Pal says IDC believes that dynamic business and technology landscapes are bringing about rapid changes to traditional tertiary education demands and practices. “Achieving adaptive agility has been more critical than ever to tertiary educators and educational institutions globally as a result of ensuring long term relevance and operational sustainability,” Pal says.

The benefits of ICT in education varies from enhancing the learning experience and equipping students with new sets of skills, to expanding the reach of education to people having no access, as well as to reduce the cost of education, the analyst firm explains.

It says the success of these benefits, however, depends on the maturity of the ICT infrastructure in the tertiary education system and the willingness of education institutions to increase ICT investments.

“All leading drivers of IT investments in higher education are related to bringing about better operational outcomes through cost reduction initiatives,” the company says. “These priorities are notably universal across both higher education institutions in mature, and developing economies of the Asia/Pacific region.”

Pal says IDC Government Insights have predicted that the 3rd platform technologies will be driving the education industry transformation and bringing about this change namely are cloud or X-as-a-service models, mobility, social engagement and collaboration, and Big Data and analytics.

“Third Platform technologies are bringing about higher education digitisation and operations transformation,” IDC says. “These new blended environments will offer seamless learning experiences, enhanced operational productivity to tertiary education users, open up new practices as well as operational excellence pursuits for the Asia/Pacific higher education sector in the coming years.”

IDC says a blended and collaborative ecosystem that enables the intelligent, instantaneous, and gainful exploitation of organisational knowledge is critical.

"This is because the Asia/Pacific tertiary education sector will be increasingly focused on addressing the urgent need to increase cybersecurity priorities of digital assets, reduce IT costs, improve business-IT alignment, and leverage cutting-edge technologies for IT consolidation and streamlining of scarce ICT resources," explains Gerald Wang, program manager, IDC Government Insights.

"By utilising collaborative cross-functional ecosystems to resolve multifaceted challenges, Asia/Pacific tertiary institutions can gain greater productivity and efficiency as compared with independent endeavours,” Wang says.

He says IDC Government Insights found that tertiary education institutions today in both mature and developing Asia/Pacific economies continue to struggle with shrinking ICT budgets.

“They also face strategic dilemmas in choosing appropriately across a wide range of ICT solutions to effectively cater to differing individualistic needs and technology readiness,” says Wang.

Tertiary institutions in developing nations are noted to display strong overall growth rates with lower overall IT spending expenditure, and majority of their IT spending is concentrated in hardware expenditure, the research says.

Wang says Asia Pacific countries are now leveraging the investments they have made to focus on software and services. “The maximum growth potential seems to be in software in these countries. Infrastructural software is the biggest focus area, followed by applications.”

Key transformation drivers, such as Democratisation and widening access to education; Internalisation of quality education through digital education initiatives; and the growing demand for personalisation and widespread collaboration, are expected to drive Asia/ Pacific education IT investment in the next two to three years, according to IDC.  

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