The higher ed journey to content services – emphasis on journey

My favorite movie is “Anna and the King,” featuring Jodie Foster and Chow Yun Fat. I love so many things about this movie – the scenery, the courage of the many characters, the glimpse into different cultures and histories. And the journey of the king, striving to find a path forward and wisdom as he anticipates great changes coming in the world to mid-1800s Siam.

One hour and 20 minutes into the movie, you stumble across the line of the king saying, “Your path is as it should be … roads are for journeys, ma’am, not destinations.”

I often think about that saying. Isn’t our career our journey? Isn’t every day or every project we take on in technology a journey? Isn’t every student on a journey?

We strive for outcomes in all we do. Students strive for grades, degrees, completion. And those of us at higher ed institutions strive to help them achieve those goals. But the fact is, when we purchase a technology, we might need to think about the journey as much as we think about the destination.

Maybe even more on the journey – especially in higher ed.

Why the destination isn’t enough

When departments across a campus set out to purchase technology, they have specific problems in mind to solve and specific challenges to overcome.

As we evaluate applying technology in a department or to a process, we form a committee and create RFPs and invest in consultants to help us conceive every possible question we should be asking of software solutions and the companies behind them. We determine what the gaps in our business processes are today and try our best to anticipate what the gaps in our processes will be tomorrow, and then evaluate solutions with those gaps in mind.

Then we do discoveries, review check boxes, watch demos, grade the performances, ask our peers and negotiate contracts – followed by more discoveries, installation, training, testing, deployment and celebrating the success of filling the gaps we identified.

And then the journey of product expansion and maintenance begins.

Suddenly, new gaps form. Almost immediately. The days of stagnation in higher ed are long gone. The challenges will evolve and change, but the need to fill gaps will not.

Aligning with your journey

content servicesThis week, I sat in a room with 17 higher ed customers that make up our advisory board, listening to all that they shared about what Hyland must do to stay relevant and viable with our product portfolio into the next three to five years.

One campus CIO talked about how his institution could have unlimited student enrollment growth if only they had the room on campus. Another said at his institution, they are struggling to reach enrollment goals and are trying to prevent declines.

In two years, those same CIOs could be saying the opposite of what they are saying today. Higher ed is on a journey – and in most cases, the destinations will change and evolve.

That’s why you should base software evaluations of the software vendors – and their solutions’ abilities – to be on the same journey with your institution, not just aligned with your current destination.

We listened to our higher ed customers. What we heard is this: We all must strive for accessibility compliance and mobile access, for cloud solutions and integration, for a constantly improving user experience. And we must deliver a platform that evolves to be a system of record for content, but also acknowledge there are other systems of record on campus.

We must assess the role of artificial intelligence and listen to the answers CIOs give on when, if and how this innovation could be important in their technology stack. We must be willing to listen and willing to change. We must be creative in our paths to get there – and accept that digital transformation will constantly evolve as well.

We have to include containers and APIs and white and black boxes – details of unfolding technology stories I might not ever totally understand. But I don’t have to, because I’m surrounded by experts who are leading this transformation.

And these experts know the goal is not product features. The goal is to partner with our customers on a shared journey.

The journey to content servicescontent services and digital transformation

When Gartner introduced its Magic Quadrant for Content Services Platforms Report, Hyland was positioned as a Leader, because we were already thinking about our future journey and, more importantly, your future journey. We were already acknowledging that you will have content scattered about the campus in many systems – just like you have data scattered about the campus.

We were already aligning with the demand for electronic forms and workflow in every office, but acknowledging that niche solutions will have those things too. So, we had already started shaping a vision that is broader than any one product to achieve any one thing. Because that’s too narrow of a scope.

Here’s my advice. Read all you can about content services. Gartner is a trusted name with a trusted vision, and I think they are on to something revolutionary that we have fully embraced. We are laying out next steps on our journey for our clients – using OnBase and Perceptive Content, ShareBase and Brainware, integrations with higher ed’s leading ERPs and CRMs, in the cloud and on premises – with all the latest technology concepts you expect from a Magic Quadrant leader.

But this is indeed a journey. You will be hearing from us more often with updates of next steps – because while our marching orders from higher ed clients are clear thanks to our Higher Education VOGUE, our new Perceptive Client Advisory Team and our Higher Education Executive Advisory Board – each step is a destination in itself, but the journey is the goal.

Let’s take it together.

Laurel Stiller brings her passion for helping institutions strategically maximize their efficiency to Hyland as its marketing portfolio manager for Higher Education. A graduate of Miami University, Ohio, with more than 20 years of experience working to map proven solutions to higher education challenges, Laurel implemented ERP solutions at Dickinson College and University of Oregon Foundation before joining the sales and marketing team at Datatel, now Ellucian, Inc. Laurel offers a deep understanding of higher education, dedication to transparency and a fondness for candid conversations about the solutions Hyland develops and delivers to the market. You may reach her at Laurel.Stiller at

Laurel Stiller

Laurel Stiller brings her passion for helping institutions strategically maximize their efficiency to Hyland as its marketing portfolio manager for Higher Education. A graduate of Miami University, Ohio, with more... read more about: Laurel Stiller