Cloud Adoption Trends in Research Administration
Higher education and independent research institutions are benefiting by migrating administrative software to cloud-based systems.
Cloud adoption and investment is an increasing priority for many industries – higher education included. We are finding that organizational leaders are no longer asking if they should move to the cloud, but when and how. According to research by Gartner1, institutional leaders view cloud services and solutions as one of the most important technologies for higher education, and the increasing cloud adoption and investment rates support that.
"Institutional leaders view cloud services and solutions as one of the most important technologies for higher education"
As of 2017, around 20 percent of U.S. higher education institutions were leveraging cloud technology – and that number is projected to rise. Not only are more institutions migrating to the cloud, but they are also spending more on cloud-based infrastructure and application services. Overall, expenditures in this area are expected to increase from $309 million in 2015 to $1.03 billion by 2021 – that’s a compound annual growth rate of more than 22 percent.
But while higher education institutions as a whole are increasingly migrating to the cloud, only 10 percent are using cloud technology to manage their research applications. That is expected to change in the future. For example, in a recent survey of higher education research leaders, 40 percent predict that by 2025, fewer than half of research institutions will manage their own data centers. This is a clear indication of institutions shifting a historically distinctive competency in research operations – data centers – away from internal sourcing.
While scalability, cost savings and collaboration are generally some of the ways cloud technology broadly benefits higher education, cloud adoption specifically benefits research enterprises by:
- Shifting regulatory compliance burdens to the cloud vendor. Potentially hefty fines force research entities to manage risk carefully. With recent changes in federal rules that overlay complex research operations processes, research enterprises are faced with difficult and expensive decisions about continued investments to further customize locally-managed systems to comply with new regulations. Moving administrative systems to the cloud transfers the cost and effort required to update systems to meet changes in regulations from the institution to the vendor. Freed from the technical burden of upgrading software, institutions can instead focus on leading users through the adoption of functional changes.
- Refocusing time and energy on research IT. Research IT administrators and research team staff spend a considerable amount of time designing, customizing and supporting locally-maintained software. Significant energy and expense that otherwise would be devoted to advancing priorities of the research mission, are consumed on this administrative support. Migrating to the cloud provides the opportunity to redirect IT spending towards higher-gain initiatives such as reporting, data analytics and scientific computing.
- Supporting your strategic plan. Partnering with the cloud vendor to provide cornerstone application service (e.g. IRB, Grants, FCOI, etc.) gives institutions a strategic opportunity to focus on improving research team productivity and plan new, more orchestrated cross-team business processes and IT integrations to reduce costs and improve accuracy.
- Experiencing efficiencies of scale. According to an News survey2, research universities who adopted cloud technologies were more likely to report efficiencies of scale than other types of institutions were.
There are many considerations when transitioning research administration applications to the cloud. Choosing the right solutions partner is one of the most important elements for success. The key is finding a vendor with deep domain knowledge and a community of like-minded peer organizations for collaboration and innovation. The right partner serves as a guide through a transformation into research administration services well-positioned to handle future change.
1. Gartner, "How to Overcome Three Higher Education CRM Myths"
2. eCampus News, "Trends in Cloud Computing in Higher Education"Contact Us