Paperwork, long waits, and bureaucratic hurdles: the marks of a pre-digital way of doing business, according to a Seth Godin post we love.

In the post, Godin writes of his experience in an emergency room—he’s surrounded by people filling out papers, performing repetitive screenings, and working within an antiquated system. Yet he widens up the post to point out that such pre-digital conditions exist in institutions everywhere. He writes:

“Perhaps the most critical thing you can say of a typical institution: ‘That place is pre-digital.’”

Forget prehistoric...don't be pre-digital!

Higher education is no exception to the pre-digital plague. We’re not saying that all universities should become online universities, but rather that all universities should take full advantage of modern technology. We find that many institutions have partly invested in digitizing, but miss opportunities to use technology to make their operations as streamlined and efficient as possible.

Is your university pre-digital? Here are a few things to think about to figure out if you could use some digitizing—or even an upgrade to your current digital systems:

1. Do you ever have to walk or drive across campus to drop off a check or document? If paperwork must be delivered to someone’s literal inbox rather than their email inbox, you’ve got a system that could use some digitizing.

2. Do you get emails or phone calls from people who have trouble getting what they need from your school’s website? Yes, we know, your website is digital. But if it doesn’t provide critical information—like where the spring activities fair is, or how to apply for a popular study abroad program—then you need to do some more digitizing.

3. Can students figure out what’s going on around campus without walking to the bulletin board in the Union? This is one we see all the time, as our business is social calendar. Most schools have an online calendar, but if it’s difficult to update and hard to navigate, we still consider it pre-digital.

4. Do you bury new students under a pile of orientation materials? Instead of sending students giant packets they will likely lose as they pack, move and hug their crying mothers, send a link to a website where they can find everything they need to know.

5. Have a parking pass students need to bring to get on campus during their allotted move-in time, or tickets students need to print to get into an event? Send a digital version too so if they lose that piece of paper they can simply bring it up on their phones.

6. Have a large staff of people doing a repetitive administrative task? In our line of work, we see this when a college tasks multiple people with loading events into the online calendar. But this could be any type of task—loading content onto the website; making photocopies; sending mail; preparing physical transcripts to send out. All of these processes can be streamlined, automated, and digitized—but you’ve got to know there’s another way, first.

That’s just a partial list of the ways schools are pre-digital. How is your school pre-digital? Have any ideas about how to digitize it?

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