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At N2N’s 2019 Annual Meeting, held Dec. 20 at the Porsche Experience Center in Atlanta, Georgia, N2N leadership, employees, clients, and investors took some time from their busy working schedules to come together and reflect on N2N’s nine-year journey from its founding to the present.
Three of those in attendance were Hitesh Chokshi, one of N2N’s investors; Mark Sczesnak, Director of Product Development at ACI International and one of N2N’s partners; and Mike Vogt of California Virtual Campus, a client of N2N’s.
Chokshi remarked on his organization’s history with N2N, which began in 2016. One of the major reasons he and his investment partners chose to fund N2N, he said, is because of how impressed they were with founder and CEO Kiran Kodithala. “Character matters. Values matter,” Chokshi said.
As an example, Chokshi discussed Kodithala’s persistence and adaptability in his role as the leader of N2N. He mentioned Kodithala’s ability to spot opportunities and move the company forward, putting it on the “incredible trajectory” that it’s on today.
Mark Sczesnak of ACI International spoke to a different aspect of N2N’s work: as a partner. Sczesnak discussed how N2N had worked closely with ACI International to build a portal for college and university student payments.
Previously to working with N2N, he said, his team had a set of products, but they didn’t provide an integrated experience. N2N’s team worked closely with ACI in order to build a streamlined platform that could deliver a better experience to their customers.
As Sczesnak said, students often have multiple different people who are making payments, or making partial payments. “We need a partner like N2N to help us deliver that across multiple different ERP systems…we currently serve 340 colleges and universities, and it’s going to be our combined solution with N2N that changes the marketplace. We’re going to be able to deliver better experiences to our customers for a good price.”
Finally, Mike Vogt discussed the scope and scale of the California Virtual Campus (CVC) system, which allows online cross-enrollment for all of California’s community colleges. With 2.1 million students spread across 114 schools, the learning community is one of the largest in the world.
One of the biggest problems students were facing, Vogt said, was enrolling in different online courses at different schools across the state. Because the colleges were using three different SIS systems, N2N was brought on to manage the countless variables that were making it difficult for the systems to talk to each other and share enrollment information.
“We think of you as the great translators,” Vogt said, referring to the N2N team. He praised N2N’s adaptability and flexibility in solving this large, complex problem, as well as their ability to pivot as needed. As this project isn’t yet complete, N2N is continuing to work with Vogt to grant greater college accessibility to more students.
This past December, N2N celebrated its 9th birthday at its Annual Meeting at the Porsche Experience Center in Atlanta, Georgia.
N2N’s CEO and founder, Kiran Kodithala, gave the keynote, sharing and reflecting on N2N’s history and progress over the past nine years.
After a thoughtful, personal, and humorous look at where N2N has been, Kodithala turned his attention to where N2N is going. The company’s goal is and always has been nothing less than to change the world—and Kodithala and his team are doing it through technology for higher education.
“What we’re doing is illuminating students’ path to graduation,” he said. “We want to help them on their academic journey.” Through tools like a machine learning API that helps students identify courses that will help them graduate faster, as well as enrollment and registration tools, N2N is working hard to make navigating students’ higher education journeys easier and more accessible.
After some discussion of present offerings, Kodithala laid out the three areas in which N2N is investing in the coming years.
Customer Success. N2N is dedicating new resources to supporting customer success, primarily through opening a new office in India to support the development operations team as well as customers. The aim is to support customers in a holistic manner, from technical support to relationship building. As Kodithala says, “The only way we can change the world is by continuing to provide better solutions to our customers.”
Investment in employees. Kodithala emphasized that N2N will be investing even more in their current employees by providing them with better benefits, more skills training, and better technology. As N2N has grown, so too has its workforce, and N2N is dedicated to supporting its people with the best possible training and technology available. Kodithala also said that N2N is changing its hiring process in order to attract the best possible employees and give them the right support from day.
Double and triple down N2N’s focus on innovation. This last point is especially key to the way N2N will be moving forward over the next three to five years. Kodithala emphasized that innovation is a critical element of N2N’s future and their ability to support students moving through higher education.
Finally, Kodithala made a surprise announcement: he is putting into place a transition plan that would see him transition out of his role as CEO and into a role as Chief Innovation Officer over the next three to five or six years.
Referring to the way he opened his keynote, Kodithala said “The first question we talked about was what we wanted to be when we grew up. I wanted to be a scientist—and do I feel like a scientist? Some days. But there are some days when I feel like there’s too much operational stuff. There’s an operational struggle that prevents me from becoming the scientist and innovator that I truly want to be.”
While Kodithala is not stepping away from N2N in any capacity, he will be stepping into a different role that allows him to fulfill those dreams that he had as a high school student, and still has today.
Kodithala closed on an inspiring and ambitious note, saying, “We will figure out a way to learn from our experiences and build something better than what we already have. I am absolutely sure that all of this effort will allow us to illuminate the world itself. We want to truly change the world and support every single student on their academic journey.”
According to a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, of the 36 million American adults today who completed some college but never graduated, about 10% (3.5 million people!) have been branded “potential completers.”
These are people who have at least 2 years’ worth of college credits under their belts, and who are most likely to respond favorably to recruitment attempts made by colleges looking to expand their student base into older students.
According to the article, these students are typically under 30. About half of them last attended a 2-year community college, and about half are minorities. All of them are most likely to reenroll in an institution in their home state, if they do return to college.
With the much-discussed enrollment crisis on the horizon, this is a pool of potential students that colleges and universities are now taking a much closer look at.
Reenrolling these ‘potential completers’ and helping them to graduate is a win-win-win situation. Students obtain the degree they’d already made such progress on – and already invested so much time and money into. Colleges and universities tap into a new market of older students to fill the seats left empty by declining birthrates and increasing skepticism about the value of an expensive college degree. And businesses, the economy, and society as a whole benefit from the influx of better-educated citizens and employees.
But what’s the best way to reach this segment of the population?
By making your institution analytical, attractive, affordable, and adaptable.
And by using N2N’s Illuminate.
Analytical: Harness the power of the analytics tools available today to target these potential completers, and then to provide extra support for them as they work to finish their degrees at your institution, keeping track of their progress and intervening whenever they begin to struggle. The Illuminate application integrates your apps, platforms, databases, and systems, and provides a comprehensive analytical overview of system activity that’s easy to access, updated in real-time, and actionable.
Attractive: Age doesn’t matter – every student, whether they’re 18 or 30, wants the college they attend to have cutting-edge tech and provide a seamless online experience. And in fact, the older the student is, the more likely they are to need offerings such as online classes in order to make school fit into their life. The Illuminate application allows institutions to easily, quickly, and affordably integrate new apps into their SIS ecosystem whenever they need to upgrade or provide a new offering.
Affordable: The older your students, the more they’ll be thinking about the price tag that goes along with that degree. Cutting tuition costs is important to attracting these once-and-future students to your institution – so cutting costs at your college or university is crucial, too. Illuminate allows you to automate large batch processes and eliminates the need for custom coding and DIY integrations, thus saving time, money, and freeing up resources for other important tasks.
Adaptable: Who knows what the future will bring? Potential completers may be inspired to return to school when a new technology emerges, and you’ll need to be ready to jump into the game right away to attract them to your institution. Illuminate allows you to snap new apps into and out of your IT set-up in minutes, no coding required, thus making your institution agile and ready for whatever the future holds.
Ever watched one of those TV shows about doomsday preppers?
You know, the ones where people stockpile food supplies, build underground bunkers, and practice what they’d do to survive in a post-apocalyptic world?
Well, there may not be a killer asteroid or a zombie apocalypse coming anytime soon, but there is one doomsday scenario that everyone working in higher education today is trying to prepare for – and that’s the enrollment crisis.
With the perfect storm of falling birthrates, increasing skepticism about the value of an expensive degree, and the ongoing financial challenges common to most colleges and universities, colleges are bracing themselves to deal with the effects of massive drops in enrollment predicted for the coming years.
A recent report put together by The Chronicle of Higher Education details the issues that are at play here, and describes the strategies that academic institutions can use to remain competitive and combat a decline in enrollment.
Two key strategies mentioned in the report are:
Agility: Adapting your institution’s offerings, marketing plan, campus environment…really, the entire college experience you offer…to the needs and desires of this new generation of students.
Affordability: Cutting costs wherever possible so that you can pass on those savings in the form of lowered tuition rates to students.
At a glance, it might look like these two strategies are incompatible. After all, most of the changes mentioned require an IT overhaul, or at least a huge investment of time and money into integrating new apps with your existing systems. And true agility is even more expensive – can you imagine significantly changing a large part of your IT ecosystem every year or two to remain competitive? How does cutting costs fit into this picture at all?!
That’s where N2N’s Illuminate comes into play.
Illuminate is an API Management Platform that removes the need for custom coding by seamlessly integratingnew apps with your existing platforms, databases, and systems, by leveraging existing APIs or by easily creating new ones.
For an affordable monthly fee, Illuminate makes agility not just possible, but easy.
Need to test out a few different apps to see which one works best? No problem. Snap each one into Illuminate quickly, try them out, and see which one truly fits your needs. You don’t have to worry about having to stick with a bad choice just because the cost to integrate another new app in its place is prohibitive.
Want a big IT shake-up every year? Go for it! There’s no reason not to, when you can add and remove apps, programs, and platforms in minutes, at no cost to you except the price of the apps themselves.
With this kind of radical, affordable agility in place, you can’t help but be competitively positioned for success in the coming years. Cutting tuition while upping your offerings and providing a cutting-edge campus? Illuminate makes it a snap.
Contact us today for a free demo of the platform that can help you stay agile, affordable, and competitive.