Both these concepts have become familiar to us. We hear them mentioned all the time. However, defining them is harder than you might first think. These concepts can only be generalized in a broad sense, since their definition, application and development are all specifically local.
Personally, I do not believe we can generalize the application of these concepts. We can, however, apply them to our surroundings, industry or business.
Technological transformation has multiple actors and, as a process—hence the name transformation—it implies a journey from obsolescent or classic technology to advanced, modern technology. Based on these principles, we can safely conclude there must be a starting point. This is the point from which we set out on the journey and is specific to the person, business or industry in question. However, the journey most certainly does not have an end. We know that advanced technology is changing and evolving all the time.
The question thus arises: how to embark on a journey if we don’t know where it ends? In my opinion—and this is the model we apply at our university—the answer lies in balancing this journey with two fundamental concepts for applying technological transformation. The first is time and the second is ensuring any transformation benefits our staff, teachers and students. This is the university’s approach to digital transformation: undertaking initiatives to allow the technological development of all the actors involved.
So, all we need to do is update our systems and databases to the latest versions? Unfortunately, it is not quite so simple. While that may be one of the steps we need to take on the journey, there are other aspects too. A journey is not just about having the best plane, train or car, since on its own, that is not enough to guarantee the best journey. Above all, a journey must consider people. People are a fundamental aspect of the digital transformation. The greater the digital development of our staff and teachers when it comes to using and understanding tools, their available capacities, and in taking advantage of technology, the greater the benefit to our students. Any technological evolution must involve our faculty, our staff and students from the outset.
The university’s mobile app is a great example. It is the result of thousands of surveys among our students and teaching staff on what they would like to see in a university application. It now has over 24,000 users. Digital development in our classrooms is the result of the analysis of the work and teaching methodology our faculty staff provide for students to equip them with appropriate tools for these models.
Above all, the user—the teacher, the student or the person most affected by the technology—must perceive it as an aid, automation, improvement or evolution of his or her everyday activities. Technology is here to stay and resistance is futile. It has penetrated to the heart of our lives and is going nowhere. The quicker we learn how to master it and use it to our advantage, the quicker we can begin to improve and evolve our activities.
Yet there are also—and this is a phenomenon that needs to be managed differently—digital disruptions. These are concepts, ideas or products that do not form part of the journey of technological transformation and have instead taken the fast route, a shortcut. They are cutting-edge digital concepts that directly impact the services and academic life of our university. We see a rapid improvement in these services or the academic model as a result of digitization and do not have time for the full “journey”. We need to incorporate them as soon as possible to allow our university community to benefit from and take full advantage of them.
At University Europea, students are always at the heart of our ecosystem and we must maximize our window of opportunity to impact on their life to produce the best possible graduates in both professional and personal terms, developing their capacity for life after university. As such, the digitization of teaching support tools is a key part of our department and the management committee. We know that students do not have fixed spaces: each uses their time differently and relies on a number of different devices. We are no longer talking about “millennials” but “Generation Z”. The maxim Anywhere, Any time and Any device are built in to the technology we provide.
At our university, technological transformation is a journey we make together, as actors involved in this project. We are developing the platforms, communications, tools and equipment that will serve as our transport on this journey. A journey with no end but with stopping points where we see improvements and evolutions in short spaces of time. For each of these tools, training and knowledge is fundamental for the actors involved and to ensure correct technological transformation. Of course, we must be ready for digital disruptions along the way, events that will speed up the process and require us to learn and assimilate quicker. However, these will also provide us with advantages and evolutions that can be quickly implemented and used.
Will you join us on this fascinating journey?