Academic journal article College and University

Using Electronic Data Management to Create A Recruitment Advantage: The 'Digital Back Office' Provides a New Measure of Stealth Competition

Academic journal article College and University

Using Electronic Data Management to Create A Recruitment Advantage: The 'Digital Back Office' Provides a New Measure of Stealth Competition

Article excerpt

Inevitable in the world of collegiate student marketing is the continued pressure to develop tools that give one institution a competitive edge over another. Frequently this measure is assigned to glamorous Web sites, glitzy brochures, videos, and high-dollar advertising. However, obscure and often less valued is the premium stock one can invest in rapid document processing systems to reach a decision and instant outbound notifications to keep applicants informed. Tools that expedite handling, paper reduction, real-time dynamics, and 24/7 self-service are perhaps the new stealth advantages that are influencing strategic student marketing as well as students' decisions about where to attend.

To augment front office and general customer service operations, Kennesaw State University (KSU) is moving to enrich the "Digital Back Office." The operational philosophy of the KSU Office of Admissions can be described as "Digital Front Office" a virtual one-stop-shop providing customer relationship management through high-touch, 24/7 transactional web services along with traditional recruitment and processing. The transactional web strategy services that are in place include online applications, online personalized brochures, virtual advisor Q/A, access to check application status for both applicants and high school counselors, freshman admissions predictor, online high school guidance counselor service center, electronic Georgia High School Directory, vip personal Web page, personalized e-mail communication plan, chat, telecenter, and automated outbound phone notifications.

With limited funding to expand the number of staff members, transactional web and other electronic services provide alternative approaches to keep ksu competitive.

The purpose of this article is to discuss emerging electronic services reflective of electronic data management using digital imaging and data integration (electronic data push) advantages and how they have inspired more creative deployment to increase rapid response. These services-the "Digital Back Office"-have the potential not only to support the internal operations of the admissions process but also to enhance those services devoted to the recruitment and admission of prospects and applicants.

Emergence of Digital Imaging

Digital images are electronic snapshots taken from a scanned document, such as photographs, manuscripts, printed texts, and artwork. Scanners are found at practically every education institution, and digital cameras-now a standard cell phone feature-are seen almost everywhere. The workflows of data entry and electronic document creation (such as Word, pdf, and HTML documents) also result in digital images.

However, digital imaging was not the first method used to achieve an archival or document storage solution. Microfiche was first used to avoid the tremendous volume of storage needed to archive decades of hard-copy files and records which accumulated from admissions and registrar offices. Preservation microfilming maintains its status as a highly revered and widely practiced preservation reformatting strategy; it also is still widely used in libraries and conventional enrollment services offices. Significant national support is evidenced by The National Endowment for the Humanities' (NEH) continued funding of the preservation of brittle books and serials through microfilming. Certainly microfiche is a reliable, relatively inexpensive technology that ensures hundreds of years of storage; yet the access potential of microforms pales in comparison to digital technology.

Access Potential of Digital Imaging

The advent of digital technology made it possible to archive and quickly retrieve transcripts and other records, and it was these features that initially attracted records professionals. The access potential of digital technology quickly convinced admissions officers of prospective uses even beyond archiving. Today, digital imaging promises to revolutionize all aspects of the admissions process-from initial contact to application, and through the various processes involving data entry, the front office, document retrieval, file review, the Telecenter, document management, admission counselor activities-in short, from prospect to applicant to the final admissions decision. …

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