Students prefer to user services that offer an easy IT experience like Spotify or Tinder. Another driver behind Aalto University’s success is the FRENDS integration, which also takes away some of the personnel’s workload.
IT Architect Patrik Maltusch talked about the system project in the FRENDS event in fall 2018.
Just like any other sector, learning is also becoming disrupted. In the digital world, anyone can offer learning and the most interesting offer wins. Many employers no longer care whether the candidate holds a master’s degree or not as long as they have sufficient competence.
“Today, universities have to state grounds showing why people should study there. Competition forces us to improve our product”, says IT Architect Patrik Maltusch from Aalto University, where 1,500 new students start their studies each year.
The IT services offered by the university are an important part of the educational product. “Students hope that our services offer a user experience similar to Spotify. If they want to meet the professor, they need a Tinder-like user experience in order to find the right person”. Maltusch says.
Creating services requires a lot from the IT department and especially integrations. There are more than two hundred systems and more than six million pieces of personal data alone.
The university did not end up with its integration solution through the shortest route because at first it used excessively complex methods to implement the integrations. Many of the systems are legacy systems and 7-8 years old. They have been interconnected very traditionally using different types of direct connections.
“We had decided to choose an open source code system for the integration. We found a good partner, but still the project failed. We ran out of time and skill, as we had to make things from start to finish at the console level. We did not have the resources to run a world-class integration platform on an open source platform”. Maltusch recalls. "We had to find an easier solution."
The new partner was HiQ, whose FRENDS tools can also be used by those who are not top-class coders.
“We can now build applications that can use real-time data. We can very quickly create views to different applications using various sources of data.”
Ease of use plays a key role here. The integrator is only called if we cannot solve the problem on our own.
“Instead of having three separate integrators, we have 32 persons capable of monitoring the processes of 220 systems. FRENDS has one dashboard from which you can see what is going on. This has worked really well for us. We can now shift some of the workload elsewhere.”
The platform allows even the wildest plans, such as voice control and virtual reality. For example, in one plan, the university’s IT systems are connected with a VR environment located at the university campus. The virtual game can be integrated with a game company’s systems and linked with the university’s access control.
“Games may already be expected next year. If we cannot keep up with the trends as an internal IT supplier, we will be left behind”, Maltusch says.
FRENDS makes sure that at least the integration platform is not an element that would prevent winning in the competition.