BCG is helping universities around the world take a three-pronged approach to develop their digital offerings and approaches—and boost their competitive edge.
Foundationally speaking, the framework of institutional learning had not changed much over the last two millennia—until the advent of the computer. Digitization of the learning process has the potential to change every facet of the academic experience. That’s especially true for higher education, which is seeing increased demand for innovative distance and online learning.
Digitization is altering the economics of education. As such, even the most prestigious universities must embrace digital education if they are going to compete.:
These trends have numerous implications for universities as they move quickly to advance their digital education capabilities.
For starters, universities in the U.S., Europe, and Asia—even those with the strongest current demand—face more intensified and global competition. In addition, digitally native students expect more flexibility, convenience, and learning options than traditional education models can provide. Digital tools and automation are necessary to achieve new operational efficiencies and lower costs per student over time. Digital provides universities with a greater ability to satisfy growing employer demand for relevant and qualified labor. Universities can also leverage digital education to gain new opportunities and additional resources to conduct more innovative research, which serves to improve the brand and competitiveness of teaching institutions.
Perhaps most critically, digital provides a way for universities to serve more students without having to invest capital dollars and resources to construct new classrooms and residence halls or absorb the costs associated with ongoing building maintenance and operations.
Many universities tend to view digitization as a simple matter of launching online courses and building a cash cow. Instead, universities—even those already offering online courses—need to fully weave digital capabilities into the fabric of the educational environment and campus culture. Doing so enables them to more effectively serve students (whether they are online or on campus), better enable innovation among staff and faculty, and transform academic and operational quality.
For this reason, BCG’s successful approach, which is being adopted by several leading international universities, focuses on the following three primary pillars: