This is a question that I’ve been thinking about for nearly two decades: “What is your institution’s most challenging edtech deal?”
Before I created the Student Affairs and Technology blog for Inside Higher Ed, I was blogging. I was a graduate student when I started using WordPress. My posts were frequently about how technology could be used to enhance student success. Edtech was something that I was passionate about even before I knew about this particular genre of technology.
During my graduate school assistantship, a recruitment-oriented technology platform was acquired for a significant sum (at least six figures). My assistantship was embedded in enrollment management, and I was in almost all of the onboarding meetings for this technology.
I wasn’t present for any actual decision-making or pitches that led to the deal. The contract was signed, and a bunch of people were tasked with bringing this tech into the light of day for the institution.
Except, it was all glitz and shine. Hundreds of hours were spent trying to use an edtech platform that, while immensely popular at higher education conventions, was pretty useless for its stated function.
The stakes are high in today’s edtech space, especially in higher education. Some of the annual contracts/costs for certain applications easily reach the $1 million mark. And even the five to six-figure edtech deals are incredibly competitive.
What that means is that vendors are spending huge amounts of time, money, and resources to get institutional decision-makers to say “yes” and launch a new product/service/platform.
When you read the daily email from Inside Higher Ed, have you noticed that Salesforce almost always has an ad? Those ad placements cost a lot of money. Does this mean that Salesforce is better or worse than its competitors? In terms of ad buys, they definitely have a marketing budget that reflects their global dominance.
And the reality is that any edtech provider that doesn’t have the marketing budget of an Oracle, Salesforce, Google, 2U, Handshake, Instructure, Ellucian, or Anthology wishes they had similar resources at their disposal.
So how do institutional leaders make informed decisions about what to buy when presented with a plethora of options for nearly every edtech category?
It’s a challenge that touches almost all aspects of higher education. From student affairs to academic affairs and beyond, edtech options exist that can provide a tangible benefit.
Thankfully, the ListEdTech Portal, free for institution users to access, is full of helpful information that can help guide that decision-making process.
Buying the best-fit edtech solution for your institution is never going to be an easy process. But we do try to make it a bit smoother.