Campus Mobile Apps Enter the “Buy It or Build It” Debate

Few leaders in higher education communications and IT would disagree that customized mobile applications play an increasingly important role on today’s campuses. The benefits of having an innovative mobile strategy are clear. Augmenting what was once the primary role of public websites, today’s mobile apps provide vital communications links between the institution, students, alumni – and the general public.  And beyond broadening a sense of campus “community” and connectedness, investment in custom mobile apps can far extend the efficacy of embedded campus platforms and systems.

Buy It, or Build It

The more recent question when it comes to mobile apps is where they should come from. When evaluating various third-party application providers and deciding whether to outsource or dedicate on-campus programming resources, the waters can become a bit murky.

“Many universities have had to choose where to spend their development time,” explains John Hermes, vice president for Information Technology at Oklahoma Christian University (OC).  “Developing and maintaining a mobile app with multiple platforms and multiple versions [can prove] too time-consuming and expensive.”

As a result, many institutions are turning to highly-customizable mobile application platforms offering connectors to integrate with leading ERP, CRM, and other back-end higher education systems. One such platform, AT&T Campus Guide Plus, leverages open source technology and a broad array of pre-built modules, allowing campuses to move from concept to completion in a matter of weeks.

Hermes and team selected AT&T Campus Guide Plus earlier this year, when evaluating options to update the mobile app at OC.

“AT&T’s platform provides us the flexibility we required to bring data from several sources, including legacy systems, and present the information within a single, consistent interface,” Hermes notes. “The AT&T platform has simplified that process – reducing the time and costs associated with mobile apps.”

Learn about the evaluation process first-hand

At EDUCAUSE 2013, I’ll be hosting a presentation,“Adoption & Evolution of Custom Mobile Apps on Campus,” on Thursday Oct 17, 2:40pm – 3:30pm, Room 204C.

I’ll be joined by:

John Hermes
Vice President for Information Technology
Oklahoma Christian University

Shani Lenore-Jenkins
Associate Vice President of Enrollment
Maryville University

These two university leaders will share the approaches employed by their respective campuses during the evaluation and deployment of new mobile application platforms. You’ll gain unique perspectives about the drivers for mobile apps on campus from both the IT department and the office of enrollment. We’ll also talk about opportunities for differentiation, versus expectations, in the eyes of mobile app users.

To everyone attending EDUCAUSE 2013, I wish you safe travels to Anaheim and hope you’ll join us for this informative presentation! If you have any specific questions, please leave them in comments below, and I will do my best to address them.


Benjamin Kruse Education Marketing Lead Manager AT&T About Ben