New IT developments underway at UNT

New IT developments underway at UNT

New IT developments underway at UNT
July 03
19:10 2015

Jesse Priest | Staff Writer

The university is undergoing a technological reorganization that should not cost students new fees, officials working on the project said. The outfitting is said to boost communication and marketing efforts, ease data gathering for administrators and boost accessibility to Blackboard and financial aid information with a new smartphone app.

In early May, UNT President Neal Smatresk announced his goal of improving the information technology infrastructure.

Chief Technology Officer Rama Dhuwaraha, who is guiding the administrators through the process, said the revitalization includes four major areas of operation.

Improvements to data warehousing

Right now, UNT uses multiple data warehouse technologies, depending on the campus in question. Institutional data related to UNT — like student and financial information — is stored in a data warehouse. Dhuwaraha said what they are doing now will give them an easier way to analyze data and reports across different institutions. It will all be found in one place.

“The purpose of this project is to develop a single source for institutional and cross-institutional analyses,” he said.

With current data warehouses, some differences in data can sometimes make difficult the analyses or reports that affect many key decision makers in the universities. For example, UNT and UNT HSC source data is found in different warehouses.

“This will help us make better informed decisions to impact each student’s educational experiences,” Dhuwaraha said. “Providing these integrated types of data can help academic leaders across the campuses more efficiently support our students.”

New customer relations management and marketing automation system

The university is implementing a new customer relations management and marketing automation system in order to streamline communication between recruiters and potential students and their parents. As marketing analytics and insights become more abundant, UNT will learn more about future students and reach out to them with more personalized methods.

“The new CRM system will be able to provide more timely communication and with students and their parents through the use of email, text, social media, the web and print,” Dhuwaraha said.

The new CRM system will help determine the student’s specific needs based on communication histories.

“We will offer better support so that incoming students and their parents know where they are in the recruitment process and what comes next every step of the way,” Dhuwaraha said. “These communications will become more individualized and relevant as we learn more about the students and their interests.”

“Anytime-anywhere” strategy

This strategy’s purpose is to build a mobile app solution for students so they can perform needed school functions. Dhuwaraha said BlackBoard will be incorporated into the overall project but will be one aspect of it.

“This project incorporates mobility, wireless, and Office 365 in the cloud so that students, faculty and staff can access their information and do work anytime anywhere,” Dhuwaraha said.

Dhuwaraha said he and his team are currently working on the features for this project but expect this solution to be a one-stop app for maps, schedules, important dates and events, financial aid status and accounts, staff directories and seamless integration of most standard smart phone features to save dates and to receive push notifications.

Upgrading PeopleSoft Financial systems

The PeopleSoft Finance system will be upgraded from version 9.0 to version 9.2. The new version will modify UNT’s financial tracking and reporting.

“It includes making improvements to areas such as the general ledger, accounts payable, purchasing, grants and asset management functions,” he said.

Three of the projects are in the assessment phase of operation, but ITSS spokeswoman Chauncey Cox said the PeopleSoft upgrade is well beyond that point.

Each project has a different time-line and expected finish date. Once they progress into the second phase, planning, they will know the specifics of hardware needed and expected time-lines.

None of these projects will cost students additional tuition fees, Dhuwaraha said.

“We are trying to improve the services we have currently, so there will probably be a reallocation of funds to get these projects done,” Dhuwaraha said. “All of these projects are being undertaken with the goal of operational excellence and making things better for students and faculty.”

Feature Image: Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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