Colleges Leveraging Cloud Computing for Digital Transformation

Colleges and universities want to expand their digital course offerings, protect student and financial data, and fine-tune their operations by using cloud computing and other emerging technologies that are cloud enabled.

As detailed in a recent report, the cloud provides college officials the ability to shift their digital operations and become more efficient in delivering services. Using the cloud allows administrators to increase their computer power, store data, add additional technology platforms, and introduce emerging technology to campuses.

Many administrators see this time of flux and change as ideal to learn how to use data more effectively to improve student services and digitally transform their campuses. College officials are also excited about an increased role for artificial intelligence to help them offer more customized online education.

At the same time, students and parents are asking for more evidence that they will get a reasonable return on their investment in higher education by asking institutions to do more to prepare students for the workforce immediately after graduation. Students are also requesting more inclusion, digital services, and online classes that can be facilitated by cloud-based software. The cloud would allow campuses to upgrade their infrastructure and operations while becoming more competitive as institutions face declining enrollment.

Moving Operations and Services to the Cloud

Most campuses see the cloud as an opportunity to improve student enrollment and retention, internal and external communications, as well as consolidate campus business operations.

Some of the benefits to institutions for moving key operations to the cloud include:

  • Increased data security of sensitive student data
  • Better cost efficiency in data storage and staffing
  • Increased automation
  • 24/7 accessibility of course offerings and services
  • Adding cloud-enabled functionality, such as learning management systems
  • Expanded course offerings

A California administrator calls cloud computing and data storage “a data lake,” that “we can just reach into and pull data from. Having the data lake would be so much easier than what we do now and would make us more able to serve students better.”


Students expect their college experience to be accessible online, anywhere, on any device. Researchers have noted that nine in ten college students like services using chatbots and other tech tools as colleges look for ways to use technology in order to be more attentive to student needs.

Potential Drawbacks

Although most administrators view the cloud as being safe, some wonder if it is as secure as tech companies claim it is. As the use of technology increases, so does the need for cybersecurity to protect against breaches. Some officials wonder if putting their data and trust into the hands of private companies is a good idea.

And then there’s the cost. Even if the cloud saves money in the long term, initial costs are a barrier for some colleges. Others worry that they may run out of capacity or be forced to pay more for access to their own data and to run their systems.

In the end, college administrators see digital tools as essential to solving their most pressing problems:

  • Increasing enrollment
  • Offering more flexible learning options
  • Delivering more services aimed at student success and well-being
  • Improving graduation rates

By embracing the cloud and other technologies, administrators demonstrate their understanding of what will help them provide the greatest learning experiences, make them most competitive, and show how forward thinking they are about stewarding their resources into the future.