Undeniable Ease

Top five ways SaaS technology can impact higher education.

GUEST COLUMN | by Leo Murphy

CREDIT Trading TechnologiesForbes Magazine recently highlighted International Data Corporation (IDC) research which estimates that by 2018 nearly 28 percent of all worldwide enterprise applications will be delivered via software-as-a-service (SaaS), generating revenue of approximately $50B. In 2013, these numbers were 16.6 percent and $22.6B respectively.

The momentum seen in SaaS-based applications seems to mirror the growth in previous disruptive technologies. Central hosting means different things for different industries, but features such as no server installations or upgrades and cost savings on IT staff and equipment are compelling reasons to consider SaaS adoption.

With SaaS-based applications, professors have the freedom to incorporate software into their coursework as they see fit, without involving the IT department.

From a university’s perspective, there are many reasons to consider incorporating SaaS. As the manager of our company’s campus-outreach program, I regularly interact with our 67 partner colleges and universities and gain useful insights into their related needs and the hurdles they face.

IT resources: Universities must maintain a multi-layered IT architecture. From campus security, e-mail, social media and curriculum support, it is important to manage the hierarchy. One thing I’ve learned is that most labs and libraries are cleaned of all software over the summer. It’s then re-imaged and re-installed for the new school year. Usually this means if something is not installed by the start of the fall semester, it will have to wait until the next year.

I’ve experienced firsthand professors who’ve wanted to leverage our futures trading software in their classrooms, but had to take their place in the IT queue and hope their requests would be met by the start of the school year.

However, with SaaS-based applications, professors have the freedom to incorporate software into their coursework as they see fit, without involving the IT department. This allows them to be more creative and responsive in curriculum development.

Industry technology: The ability for educators to partner with industry leaders to incorporate real-world technology into curriculum or provide it directly to students can make a real difference. Whether this means providing access to software that helps educate or tools that empower students to be better prepared for employment opportunities, access to technology that students will use when they join the workforce brings value to education. With the barriers of installation and maintenance removed, the best technology can get into the hands of professors and students quickly and easily.

Remote access: At a university, software is traditionally installed in a lab or library. The issue is the software can only be used by students when they are physically in those locations. Projects or assignments are limited to access at that lab or library. SaaS-based applications, like Trading Technologies’ TT platform, on the other hand, can be accessed wherever the student has an internet connection. Since our partner schools have adopted our SaaS-based, TT platform, we have seen greater incorporation of our technology into curriculum and student projects.

Industry collaboration: The link between the marketplace and the classroom is important for a number of reasons. Traditionally, business funded university research that in turn provided real-world solutions. Today, the collaboration goes much further with both parties bringing value to the partnership. Industry helps brings textbook theories to life for students by providing hands-on applications and experience, while university research continues to provide insights and solutions to industry.

The net result is curriculum that prepares students for employment, university solutions that address the market’s problems and a relationship that feeds both. It is difficult to find a discipline that does not rely upon industry-standard software, which means any collaborative effort will be enhanced by the software’s use.

In our situation, we benefit from our relationships with partner schools mainly through their valuable feedback. However, that feedback is contingent upon their use of our software, which increases as it becomes more accessible and easier to manage through the SaaS-based delivery model.

Industry experience: One of the challenges employers face is the steep learning curve of new employees when they first enter the marketplace. Anything that helps flatten this curve benefits the firm, the new employee and, indirectly, their alma mater.

Case in point, a student I worked with who managed the lab at one of our partner schools was employed by a well-known energy company upon graduation. He felt he was hired in part because his interviewer was impressed that he was already familiar with X_TRADER, our original product and still one of the leading trading platforms for professional derivatives traders.

So this takes us back to where we began. Explosive growth is forecasted for enterprise applications delivered via SaaS over the next couple years. For higher education, while many schools still favor traditional, server-installed software, the ease with which SaaS-based applications can be deployed on campus makes for a real value proposition. Whether we’re talking about curriculum development, student job prospects or industry/university collaboration, putting industry-standard tools in the hands of professors and students quickly and easily brings undeniable value.

Leo Murphy manages Trading Technologies’ TT CampusConnect program. TT CampusConnect assists universities as they prepare the next generation of financial professionals. Whether it is through software donations, guest lectures, curriculum development or recruiting, it strives to meet the university’s needs. Leo began his career as a broker in fixed income futures and options for Merrill Lynch at the Chicago Board of Trade. He was a senior economist in research and development for the CBOT before coming to Trading Technologies. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Benedictine University (Lisle, Illinois) and Lewis University (Romeoville, Illinois) teaching economics. Leo is a graduate of Loyola University of Chicago (BBA, Economics) and Illinois Institute of Technology (MBA, Finance).

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