The business digital transformation research underscores the critical importance of organisations continually meeting and astutely building upon your client’s ever rising, increasingly higher order digital expectations.
The customer experience is at the heart of digital transformation (Forrester, 2015).
The same imperative will increasingly hold with your school, and the school’s ability to continually meet and accommodate its current and prospective client’s – its present and future students’ and parents’- rapidly evolving digital expectations.
In a digital and networked society where the young and their parents have normalised the use of the digital to the extent that its has become virtually invisible the expectation is that they will naturally use their current technology in every facet of their lives and work. Indeed we are shocked when we can’t and are scornful of those enterprises that don’t provide fast, ready and sophisticated online access.
We are living in a society for whom the increasingly sophisticated use of the digital has become the norm and which no longer differentiates between face- to-face and online experiences (Westerman, et al, 2014).
The early adopter, pathfinder schools globally have long recognised this reality, have normalised the use of the digital in every facet of their teaching and administration, are providing an integrated digital client experience and vitally have positioned their schools to evolve at a pace where they can continually accommodate their client’s rising digital expectations.
Schools can only do that, and meet the client’s rising digital expectations – known and unanticipated – if they too have normalised the use of the digital.
School can’t hope to meet, let alone build upon the school their client’s rapidly evolving digital expectations unless they, like their client’s are naturally, invisibly using the digital in every teaching situation, have the digital underpinning every school operation and are working with a digital and socially networked mindset.
The strong indications are that in 2016 most Australian schools are not yet in that position, able to meet the current let alone rising digital expectations. Mid 2015 the author assisted with a survey of 35 state primary and high schools, that revealed that only around 30% believed they had all teachers using the digital naturally in their everyday teaching.
What is the situation at your school?
As stressed in previous articles the getting of 100% of teachers to naturally use the technology – to move the school to a digital operational base – is but a step on the path readying the school for BYOT and achieving digital normalisation, the creation of a mature school ecosystem and the placing the school’s use of the digital on par with the clients. Indeed the digital transformation research by the likes of Westerman et. al, (2014) and Solis (2015) highlights how sophisticated the digital masters are becoming in accommodating their client’s digital expectations.
It is appreciated a number of schools are still firmly of the view that only professional educators and government know what is best educationally, and as such it is essential the students and parents to follow the school’s and government’s dictates. They see no merit in addressing their client’s needs or expectations, educational or digital. Their view is similar to that taken by a cross section of industries that have all but disappeared.
Schools and their communities can take that view, but the strong signs are that the gap between the client’s expectations, educational and digital, and those schools will grow, with the clients increasingly taking their custom to those schools that they perceive meet the rising expectations.
With digital normalisation the clients in general terms naturally and largely unwittingly expect the school to mirror the evolving digital practises of society. There is the expectation, particularly among the students and younger parents, that:
- the children will use the current digital technologies they already use 24/7/365
- Net access and bandwidth in the school will be on par with that in the home
- the digital will be used naturally in all teaching and learning, from Kindergarten upwards
- students and parents can email their teachers
- students can use their smartphone to photo board notes
- the school website will provide all the latest information
- the school will have an effective integrated digital communications suite, like all other organisations
- the school’s use of the digital technology will evolve, becoming increasingly sophisticated, while always readying the young to use it astutely.
There is also the expectation the school’s teaching will build upon the young’s normalised 24/7/365 use of the digital technology, recognising the nature of the learning and teaching they do outside the school walls and will adjust and individualise their teaching accordingly.
Possibly largely unwittingly they also expect the curriculum to employ and enhance current, but also rapidly evolving, technological practices, and not be constrained by a dated formal digital technology curriculum that teaches digitally aware clients the ways of the past.
There is likely to be the expectation that the digital will be used naturally and astutely to enhance the teaching of the many interpersonal, intrapersonal and cognitive skills essential to an apt holistic education.
In saying ‘possibly’ and ‘unwittingly’ the reality is that the client’s digital expectations will continually grow and change, and will be impacted by their local school setting. Four years ago apps were largely unheard of: today they are an integral part of modern society. Schools that have normalised the use of the digital and are striving to meet their clients digital needs will engender in the school itself and likely ‘competing’ local schools appreciably higher digital expectations than those found in a traditional paper based school.
Envision yourself as a client, jot down your digital expectations and compare them to your school’s practises.
Building upon the client’s expectations
One of the new arts to be conquered by leaders of digital schools is the reading and continual building upon of the clients’ digital expectations.
The continued viability of a school will increasingly be tied to its ability to meet its client’ expectations (Lee, 2015).
That challenge is made that much more difficult by the pace and uncertain nature of the digital revolution and the school’s requirement to identify and address the current digital expectations, those of the near future and critically those as yet unidentified. In many respects the genius of Steve Jobs was in the identification of the latter.
In identifying the attributes required by the students in a digital and networked world while schools cannot foretell of the future digital tools that will be used they can and should have an ecosystem agile enough to readily accommodate the emerging technology and changing practises.
In that shaping ecosystem the business management research, for example that by Solis ( 2015), points to the need to
- view the road ahead through your clients’ eyes, through those of your students and parent’s, comparing their digital expectations with those provided or planned, understanding in any school population the digital expectations of the clients will be spread
- undertake that mapping through a digital and networked mindset (Bhaduri and Fischer, 2015) and most assuredly not an analogue
- identify the moments that will matter, and resonate, with the current clients and indeed those potential clients still to enrol their children. It is more than creating the moments of truth, even amazing moments of truth that markedly exceed the client’s expectation but rather having an ecosystem that continually provides the clients memorable experiences. It is more than the first encounter with the school; rather it is providing both the children and the parents many years of magic moments. One is looking at those moments, those happenings that prompt the parent to share the experience on Facebook.
- identify the current and potential out of touch points, practises employed by the school that might jar with the client’s digital expectations. Do you for example still insist on using only paper communication, have a dated, bland or painfully slow school website, limited bandwidth, unreliable low end computers, poor Wi Fi coverage or a front office that doesn’t answer the phone? It is appreciated some of these things could be outside the school’s control but all can be off-putting.
- have an effective and efficient integrated whole of school digital client experience, that seamlessly integrates the school’s marketing and accountability into the school’s everyday teaching and operations.
It will be the lack of school leadership, not funding, the school’s situation or the technology that prevents school’s meeting their client’s digital expectations.
If your school is to remain viable in a digital and networked world and hope to ‘compete’ with the digital masters first and foremost it must normalise the whole school community use of the digital.
But equally – and for many this could be a first – the school needs to get serious about addressing the client’s expectations, and in particular their rising digital expectations.
Schooling globally historically is transitioning from its traditional paper based mode to a digital form, catering in the process for a parent clientele that has only known the traditional school, which understands the young should be schooled for a digital world and who, like their children will need to be ‘educated’ in the workings of a digital school.
It requires astute school leadership to provide that ‘education’, a willingness to seriously address their needs and digital expectations, and to genuinely collaborate with them in growing their understanding of 24/7/365 schooling, in teaching their children in a digital and networked world and growing ‘their’ digital school.
Bhaduri, A and Fischer, B (2015) ‘Are You an Analogue or Digital Leader?’ Forbes 19/2/2015 – http://www.forbes.com/sites/billfischer/2015/03/19/are-you-an-analog-or-digital-leader/
Forrester (2015). Digital Transformation in the Age of the Customer. Forrester for Accenture. October 2015 – https://www.accenture.com/_acnmedia/Accenture/Conversion-Assets/DotCom/Documents/Global/PDF/Digital_1/Accenture-Digital-Transformation-B2B-spotlight.pdf
Lee, M (2015b) ‘Schools Have to go Digital to Remain Viable’ Educational Technology Solutions July 2015
Solis, B (2015) ‘The Insiders Guide to Digital Transformation and the Path to Innovation’. http://www.briansolis.com/2015/11/insiders-guide-digital-transformation-path-innovation/
Westerman, G, Bonnett, D and McAfee, A (2014) Leading Digital. Turning Technology into Business Transformation, Boston, Harvard Business Review Press