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Technology & Innovation

4 common objections to an integration-first approach

Putting integration at the forefront of your tech strategy can support your innovation and growth in the education and training business. But there are objections to this strategy. Below, we have a look at four of the most common, and ask if we should be overcoming them.


1. Why should we consider changing our existing technology approach at all?


One of the big objections from training providers is that they do things a certain way, and don’t see why should they change. They are comfortable with how they are going. That is understandable. As a training provider – especially an SME - you don’t go out looking for problems to solve! If you have a system that’s working, doing the job, then great. 


However, sometimes problems come looking for us. One example was during Covid-19 – we had an industry wide issue particularly in the online and blended learning space.


In our view, this change is likely to accelerate. We have a lot of change coming down the pipe in future, including modernisation initiatives from governments, industry coming into the training space, technology disruption and trends coming out of EdTech – like online learning platforms - and even the digital transformation initiatives of direct competitors.  


This is going to create a lot of problems for educators to solve, from how to market, attract and recruit a new generation of students with changing expectations, to how to engage them on the journey and deliver them a great student experience and outcomes.


2. It’s too difficult to manage multiple technology systems


Another objection you hear out there in the market is that it seems too difficult and complex (or too costly) to manage multiple systems. One system has to be easier, right?


It’s true the idea of having one or more integrations – of managing a connected ecosystem of technologies – is a bit intimidating if you’ve not done it in a big way before, or if you’ve not thought about doing it this way in the past. Naturally, you think of things like managing multiple subscriptions, multiple logins, and potentially a lack of resources or digital literacy internally to manage and draw value from more complex networks of technology. This is where it’s easy to think all-in-one is just easier, it’s more simple. 


In some cases this makes sense - and in many others it doesn’t. It’s actually become much easier to manage integrations as technology has developed, particularly with the cloud. Tech companies like us have been working hard to create experiences that are much more like the B2C market in terms of seamless connection, and eliminate points of friction or difficulty like multiple logins – for example through single sign on (SSO). The ease of use of these systems now also makes it more intuitive for teams to pick up and run with, minimising the need for training and maximising the speed at which they can be utilised.


So yes, it can take a little bit more time and technology brain power at the beginning to be more intentional about curating technology, but ultimately it has become easy enough now that it is within the realm of even smaller providers to manage and deliver great student experiences through technology that resemble or better those of larger providers.


In terms of cost, it depends how you look at it. Yes, the price tag is a major consideration - especially in the leaner times we are living through. But there’s an opportunity cost there in not considering more appropriate technology – for example, if your LMS is basic and is not engaging your students or delivering you the adaptive or mobile learning capabilities you need to enhance their learning outcomes, even in remote, on-the-go environments – what cost does that have for your business in the long-term? Also, the value you may receive from an ecosystem approach may be way higher than you receive from the components of an all-in-one system. So cost is a factor but there are other considerations to be aware of.


3. Why doesn’t my tech provider integrate with what I need?


Education and training providers often have systems they use or want to use. They often ask larger tech providers like us, why haven’t you got the specific integration I want?


It’s a valid question. EdTech and the broader tech universe is huge and growing. Finding your tech provider doesn’t integrate with what you want can be a frustrating experience.


Technology providers typically grow their integrations organically. For example, as we have grown in the past, we have chosen to invest in integrations based on our approach, the needs of our clients, and the market challenges we see, both current and emerging. 


That’s because integrations do take time and resources. When they enter into tech companies’ roadmaps for future development, they are competing with other advances like the new great features you can use to wow your students. 


This means tech providers usually have a strategic vision for integrations as well as managing each case-by-case as the market develops - and it often develops quite fast in tech!


The key question to ask first of all is if your provider is even open to integration. Does it have an open philosophy or a closed philosophy? If they have an open philosophy and use an advanced API, they will be open to new integrations as well as actively encouraging other adjacent technologies to build their own integrations to them via API. 


A second question might be is there a better solution? Often tech companies who curate integrations will vet the systems they integrate with to ensure they are adding value to customers. So there may be the opportunity to consider a new approach.


It’s important to recognise that one system can never do everything either. Over time, by partnering with a tech provider that has an open approach to integration, what you have is a growing ecosystem that works to bring more and more value to your education service, including more of the systems and tools you will need to grow and thrive.


4. I’ve been burnt by integrations in the past. Not again!


A lot of education and training providers have used integrations in the past, and have had negative experiences. Why should they trust the next one will work for them well?


As the education market and broader technology ecosystem has evolved, the technology and capabilities have as well; this means that, while some things have been challenging in the past, these have been worked through with customers to the level of satisfaction and success.


We have reached a point now where this will become a minor and diminishing concern.


The growth of true cloud SaaS is a powerful enabler of seamless integrations that enable data to flow between integrated ecosystems. Well documented APIs enable developers to put systems together more simply, and the cloud makes data exchange in real time commonplace.


We’re now in a position as a tech market where education providers can be confident in the reliability of their integrations, and that’s a very exciting place to be as we head into the future and providers want to build adaptive businesses that deliver great experiences. 


Interested in learning more about how we help providers with next generation enterprise student management technology? Learn more here.