Workday's higher ed management tools well timed

The higher education platform is dubbed Workday Student and features analytics and object modeling to manage the student academic cycle. Components will be rolled out starting in 2014.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Workday plans to launch a higher education management platform designed to boost student engagement, better manage through budget cuts and focus on outcomes such as 4-year graduation rates, job placement and acquiring competencies.


The higher education effort, along with Workday's plans to target government, are likely to serve as a template into other verticals. Industry specific sales will be a key battleground as companies like Workday target Oracle and SAP. The industry efforts are being led by Workday co-CEO Dave Duffield. The higher education platform is dubbed Workday Student and features analytics and object modeling to manage the student academic cycle.

Also: Workday's big data play: The gateway drug to financials?

Workday said it plans to launch the first components of the higher ed management system in the first half of 2014 and have general availability in 2016 as it add tools at a steady clip. Workday's higher education management effort comes at an interesting time. Between student debt, budget cuts and the need to cater to a diverse student base amid retraining and workers needing new skills, higher ed's traditional business model is under fire and probably unsustainable.

Liz Dietz, vice president of strategy and product management at Workday, said the company is aiming to be a system of record "to be the first to bring mobile-first student engagement and big data." "Higher education is trying to adjust to the new normal," said Dietz, who joined Workday in April and sparked rumors the company would build an education management system.

Workday's primary task: Root out legacy vendors such as Oracle and Ellucian in higher education deployments. Workday's primary pitch is that it will have a mobile-first student management platform to optimize schedules, navigate debt and use analytics to help pick majors and graduate on time. Dietz argued that previous higher-ed applications have been build from the administrator point of view. "We'll do student and faculty and what the people that use the system day to day really need," said Dietz.

Initial design partners are Broward College, Yale University, Tallahassee Community College, and Southern New Hampshire University. These customers will implement and help design the modules on deck.

The big question for Workday is whether higher education institutions---not the most nimble vertical on the planet---will break away from their legacy tools. "There are enough market forces and pressure that if there's a better way they will move," said Dietz. "In private briefings there has been a tremendous amount of interest. We think we can really help transform those institutions that haven't had those choices before."

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