The power of white ink in higher ed


Last week, I had the opportunity to sit in on our Higher Education VOGUE board meeting. This insanely smart group of OnBase customers from Columbia College, Dartmouth, Harvey Mudd College, Salem State and Syracuse (yes, I’m name dropping) represent a prestigious and diverse group of colleges and universities across the country. They gathered to share ideas, engage in valuable dialogue and provide feedback about increasing institutional effectiveness and efficiency through technology.

They went around the table and shared stories of how they’ve used technology to make their campuses more efficient – each narrative just as riveting as the next.

Then, in the midst of an account about a seemingly simple Financial Aid solution at Harvey Mudd, came my first introduction to the concept of white ink. To index award letters, text is placed on the PDF using white font. This allows a computer output to laser disk (COLD) processor to pick up the data, but when you print the letter for students, no one can see the data.

Mind. Blown.

The real power of white ink: Better student experiences

I woke up the next morning still in awe at what, in my mind, was a revolutionary concept. White ink. Ha! Who would have thought?

Then it hit me. The real power of the white ink concept was much deeper than indexing an award letter via a COLD process. What was so valuable about this concept was how you can apply it to virtually any process that you are improving on the backend that touches the student. You see, so much of what technology does to make life on campus easier and facilitate student success is invisible to the students themselves.

But ultimately, all of this “white ink,” if you will, is key to improving the overall student experience.

Does everybody use white ink?

Ok, so I’ll admit it. I guess this concept of white ink isn’t a new thing that no one has ever heard of. Turns out, a couple of other people in the room had done the same thing on their campuses in different ways. But for me, it was a big eye opener.

It made me wonder – what types of “invisible” process enhancements are happening across campuses worldwide that are making a big impact on student service?

As I listened on, I learned how our customers are making life easier in the Admissions Office, giving users access to all of the information needed to make decisions from one screen in OnBase, rather than flipping between 12 – 15 unique screens in their ERP. One institution shared a story about its Navigation Center – a one-stop-shop for the student through which 42 percent of all documents on campus enter its systems.

What used to be a hub for lost papers is now a digital haven for all student-related data.

I even heard some real, measurable ROI. In one example, OnBase was key to the labor verification process of allocating research and principal investigator time against grant dollars to ensure compliance. The Office of Sponsored Projects reduced that process from six months – with only 40 percent of approvals completed – down to six weeks, resulting in 99.9 percent completion.

I also heard how our customers apply our higher education solutions in places like residential life, the Advancement Office, the transfer credit evaluation process, physical plant, AP, real estate – the list goes on and on.

And the most fascinating part is that these schools are deploying between five and 15 new higher education solutions per year. Yes, you read that right. Rapidly deploying these impactful solutions by the dozens in just 12 months. 365 days. 8,760 hours.

You get the picture. Their enterprise visions are inspiring.

Finding your white ink

By the end of the day, one thing was clear. No matter how each campus applies the concept of white ink, some more literally than others, the end goal is the same – providing a superior experience for students.

So the bottom line is, think about your own campus. Do you own technology that supports the use of white ink and allows you to reach your fullest “white ink” potential? If not, it’s probably time to invest in some.

Oh! And if you’re a customer of ours, join the VOGUE, because technology that invisibly allows you to make the student experience seamless and successful is key – but when we collaborate and share ideas with our peers, that’s where the real magic happens.

Katie Tomicic joined Hyland in early 2012 as a member of the Office of the CTO. A mom of two, entrepreneur and undercover karaoke star, she disguises herself during traditional working hours as a content marketing specialist. She currently covers higher education for the Product and Solutions marketing team. Fun fact: Katie was in the 2002 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!
Katie Tomicic

Katie Tomicic

Katie Tomicic joined Hyland in early 2012 as a member of the Office of the CTO. A mom of two, entrepreneur and undercover karaoke star, she disguises herself during traditional... read more about: Katie Tomicic