Mobile Enterprise Resources Planning (ERP) for Higher Education
Post-secondary students are demanding greater access to their school’s information systems. Learn how mobile ERP applications can help.
By Aaron Williams and Gurdhanpreet Sohi
Mobile adoption has accelerated in the past five years, achieving several milestones in the mobile space in 2012:
- Apple sold more mobile devices in 2012 than they had sold computers in their entire history
- Mobile data usage increased by 100%, with over 50% of mobile data being consumed by video
- The 2012 presidential election became the most tweeted event in history, with 31 million tweets sent
- Christmas Day 2012 saw more mobile device activations than any other day in history
Source: All About Apps Infographic, Mobile Future
From a higher education perspective, students are demanding an ever-increasing amount of access to their school’s student information systems.
This trend is validated at Educause — an annual higher education conference held in November 2012 — where a survey showed the #2 IT issue for institutions is supporting the trend towards “bring your own device” among students.
In addition, mobile requirements are evolving from read-only services (data is viewed but not edited) to those which allow the user to update or insert data in the destination system. Some examples of these services include the following:
- Read-Only services:
- Course search
- Academic calendar
- School directory
- Add/Update data services:
- Class registration
- Mobile payments
- Assignment tracking and submission
To meet these requirements, organizations can consider several solutions when developing mobile applications for ERP, including the following platforms, apps or mobile websites:
- Native Apps:
- Platform-specific apps custom-developed by the institution for a particular platform, such as iOS or Android.
- Using tools that are native to the platform, so the apps cannot be easily shared between differing devices, i.e., an app native to Android will not run on an iOS device.
- Mobile web sites:
- Browser-based apps written in HTML5 that can be accessed by any device in the same manner
- Portable across platforms (since any modern device can render HTML5), but does not offer the same level of functionality as native apps.
- Hybrid apps:
- Web app (as above) wrapped in a platform-specific program that allows the same app to run natively on multiple devices.
- Many open-source frameworks available, such as Oracle ADF.
However, before your institution can start executing your mobile strategy to extend existing ERP applications, you’ll first need to define your mobile strategy with these key steps:
- Assess the current situation. Understand the institution’s desire to adopt mobile ERP access (e.g., PeopleSoft Campus Solutions). One of the methodologies to do this is by conducting face-to-face workshops or online surveys targeting the faculty, staff and students.
- Know your capacity. Understand the skillset of the institution’s ERP and mobile developers (what they can and cannot do, etc.).
- Identify the key stakeholders and obtain their support to ensure there is a “top-down” approach.
- Start small and be selective. Determine which areas will make an incremental impact amongst the students and/or faculty.
- Keep your options open. Explore and evaluate different technologies available to you (e.g., Saas).
We will be presenting Deloitte’s ERP applications for student information systems at the Higher Education User Group Alliance conference in Indianapolis, Indiana from March 17 to March 20.
Our presentation “Portable PeopleSoft – Addressing the need to access mobile PeopleSoft applications in higher education” will focus on how institutions, currently using PeopleSoft Campus Solutions, can leverage Oracle Application Development Framework Mobile to extend their ERP applications towards mobile devices and provide students the ability to access both “push” and “pull” services at their institution.
Aaron Williams, Lead, is an Oracle Certified technical resource for full-suite PeopleSoft implementations for the higher education and public sectors. Aaron has participated in several major implementations for Oracle Campus Solutions.
Gurdhanpreet Sohi, Business Technology Analyst, is also a member of the higher education practice based in Halifax and has a vast experience in developing cross-platform mobile applications using different web technologies.