From Novelty to Necessity: Evaluating New Technologies for Real-World Education Challenges

by Kelly Port
Technology innovation continues to occur at a fantastic pace. It can be difficult to parse through all the buzz and hype to figure out what is meaningful (to you) and what can be set aside (at least for now). As an innovator, it can also be challenging to stand out in the crowd. As a Product Management leader, I find myself on both sides of this situation. On a near-daily basis, I’m evaluating new technologies and tools to consider adding to our EPaaS (Education Process as a Service) ecosystem. Simultaneously, my team is identifying and building enhancements to better help the clients and students we serve. In both scenarios, I’m always asking myself if there is material impact to outcomes that matter. In other words, are these solutions truly addressing real problems, or are they merely solutions in search of problems to solve?

Without Clarity of Purpose, Innovation Can Miss the Mark

It’s not uncommon for companies to fall into the trap of creating solutions without clearly identifying the problems they aim to solve. This occurs when there is an overemphasis on the enabling technology or a new feature, without adequate consideration given to the outcomes they can help achieve. Often, the technology is exciting and holds a great deal of potential, and of course, features are important. But they should always serve a purpose: successfully supporting a thoughtful set of business objectives by solving a problem or fulfilling a need. Without this clarity of purpose, innovation can miss the mark and fail to deliver real value to users.

The innovation of the moment is, of course, Artificial Intelligence (AI). It has begun to revolutionize numerous industries, with its full potential (undoubtedly vast) still to be realized. Yet its adoption has not come without challenges. Many solutions are promising initially, but upon closer evaluation, they fall short of supporting business objectives, either through reliability challenges that may inadvertently generate business risk (especially in highly regulated sectors, like higher education), unsustainable implementation or maintenance approaches, or just falling short on delivering a meaningful impact beyond current solutions. In any case, thoughtful evaluation of an AI solution is critical, especially now, as the offerings in the space grow at breakneck speed.

Delivering Meaningful Outcomes

As we evaluate new technologies at Elsmere, including AI-based solutions, we’re applying a high level of scrutiny to ensure that we’re genuinely addressing real-world challenges rather than implementing a superficial novelty. We want all the capabilities and tools we implement within EPaaS, including AI, to tackle tangible issues and reliably drive meaningful outcomes. This requires that we are clear on what drives values for our clients and the students we serve, that we perform thorough testing and vetting to validate effectiveness (and identify possible risks), and then apply continuous evaluation to ensure alignment with evolving needs. By prioritizing substance, all aspects of our EPaaS technology ecosystem, current and future, will drive to outcomes that matter.

Regardless of the innovation being considered, adopting strategies that prioritize value creation as you evaluate potential solutions can ensure that the efforts deliver meaningful outcomes:

  • Clarity on Outcomes: Clearly define the outcomes you expect the solution to provide and ensure that they are realistic and aligned with business objectives. This may include identifying new objectives that you had not considered in the past; innovations can help expand the way we think about driving success.
  • Establish Metrics for Success: Develop clear metrics for success and hold teams accountable for achieving them. This ensures that innovation efforts are tied to measurable outcomes rather than vague promises.
  • Create Feedback Loops: Foster a culture of collaboration and continuous improvement by establishing feedback loops that allow for iteration of solutions based on real-world usage and feedback. This is especially true with early-stage innovations, where there is much to learn, and refinement is nearly guaranteed.

Remember, too, that exciting new technologies are not the only space where innovation can be meaningful. Creative ways to apply existing technologies to solve new problems or improve the ability (effectiveness, efficiency, completeness) to solve problems with existing solutions.

Innovation is not just about flashy technology or shiny features — it’s about solving real problems and delivering tangible value. By shifting the focus from technology and features to outcomes, we can ensure that innovation efforts have a meaningful impact.

Contact us today to see how Elsmere Education’s EPaaS solutions can help your university achieve meaningful outcomes that drive impact.

About Kelly

Kelly Port is the VP of Product at Elsmere Education. She specializes in evolving systems, expanding capabilities, and implementing robust product management practices. With 18 years in Product Management spanning healthcare, market research, and higher education, she excels in driving scaled, sustainable growth for small to mid-sized companies through technology innovation and impactful partnerships. Passionate about maximizing team value in the market, Kelly prioritizes strategic development and process innovation in her career.


Recommended posts