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Enterprise App Success at Columbia International University

By: Annie on Jul 11, 2019 4:08:00 AM
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“When I was a student here, I was always going ‘other schools have do we not have one?’”                       

With so many communications going out year-round from multiple departments, it’s easy for students to feel overwhelmed and miss out on important information. According to Tyler Tong, Director of Campus Activities at CIU, “a huge goal this year was figuring out how to target students and communicate with them in a way that we are able to cut through all of the extra noise.” He realized that they needed a campus app in order to effectively communicate with students on the platform that they were using - mobile. 

Enterprise App Success at Columbia

“A huge goal this year was figuring out how to target students and communicate with them in a way that we’re able to cut through all of the extra noise.” 

Tyler Tong - Director of Campus Activities, Columbia International University

Initially, CIU worked with another developer to launch its first app. According to Tong, the developer did not respond to inquiries in a timely manner, and was very slow at implementing changes or adjustments. Because CIU was not satisfied with the product they’d received, they published it in the app store, but did nothing to promote the app internally. As a result, few students saw this initial campus-app. After realizing that this developer “over-promised and under-delivered in a lot of ways,” CIU decided it was time to look for a new solution.

Being so forward-thinking, even after their first platform did not work as anticipated, admins at Columbia International University decided that it was time to try again. However, this time, CIU knew what to look for: a fully developed enterprise campus platform, a responsive developer, and a vendor with astounding customer support. 

When asked if he was nervous to try again with a new developer, after already having spent money on a platform that didn’t work, Tong said, “I was kind of like ‘Okay cool, we spent money and it didn't work but we still need [an app].’ But I just knew a functional campus-app was something that [CIU] needed.”

Fast forward to CIU adopting the Ready Enterprise Campus App, and getting Teri Higgins, PhD, as their designated Campus Success Consultant. “I've been super happy. I mean anytime that I've needed anything Teri has responded within an hour,” said Tong, “so I just appreciate this part of Ready’s culture” 

When asked if he had expected this level of care in terms of customer support, Tong responded: 

“I've worked with multiple vendors - not necessarily in the app world - but vendors in general are very much business first. They try to answer your questions, get the sale and move on. But everybody that I've talked to from Ready has been very relational - remembering names, knowing who's who, knowing people's roles, who can speak to what and that kind of stuff.”

One thing that surprises administrators most about Ready’s customer success team, is that the majority of our consultants have a background in Student Affairs. Having a CS team that understands the roles and expectations of higher education administrators ensures that conversations between the institution and the vendor remain student-centric. 

Enterprise App Success at Columbia


“As a Campus Success Consultant, I love to draw upon my Student Affairs background and strategize with campuses on how they can leverage Ready's technology to support student success initiatives.”

Teri Higgins, PhD - Senior Campus Success Consultant, Ready Education

We asked Tong what CIU’s new campus app launch would have looked like without Teri, and he said: 

“I don't know how we would have launched without her. I probably would have thought that everything was up and good and students could go download the app, and that's probably all we would have done. Having a plan and somebody to walk through launching a campus-wide system was so helpful. She gave us marketing materials, promotional materials, graphics - all that kind of stuff to help make sure that everybody knew that this is what we're doing. Using different avenues and different ways to communicate the value of the app, without having to create the material ourselves was a big help. It would've taken months to get that stuff done internally.”

Having a platform launch strategy along with a designated Campus Success Consultant was the key difference between CIU’s first campus-app launch and their widely successful Ready Education enterprise campus-app launch. 

With 1250 students on campus (620 undergrad & 630 postgrad students), CIU’s main goal for their campus platform was to streamline campus communication. For example, earlier this year, CIU changed their registration process from semesterly to annually, and administrators needed a way to get the word out to students. Not only did the app notify students of this change, but it also allowed administrators to send targeted, personalized reminders when students had not registered for classes by a certain date.

In 1 year (June 2018-June 2019), CIU’s campus app saw:

Enterprise App Success at Columbia

  • 2094 friendships
  • 114789 wall views
  • 30372 conversations 
  • 8968 private messages
  • 199246 total app sessions
  • 333822 resources accessed

By making the app the go-to resource for students to find important information on campus, CIU was able to ensure that not only would students adopt the app, but that they would also return to it time and time again (766 times per year, on average). 

Having a campus app is no longer a “nice-to-have,” but rather a necessity for today’s modern campuses. However, even the best platforms can fail if they aren’t paired with a strategic launch plan. By partnering with Ready Education, administrators can rest easy knowing that any questions they have will be answered timely and thoughtfully by their designated campus success consultant. 

As Director of Campus Activities, Tyler Tong recounted: “there's a heart behind the Ready Education team. I care about students and their experience, and so do they.”