CTS launches new SaaS

CTS launches new SaaS

North Dakota University System’s Core Technology Services launched a new project recently that’s meant to make the digital workplace more efficient.

According to Corey Quirk, director of enterprise services – applications, the project created a cloud-hosted Software as a Service (SaaS) desktop and mobile workplace platform called Modo to provide timely communications, as well as convenient access to the web content and services used daily by Valley City State University applicants, enrolled students, employees, alumni, and friends.

“In an era where email is less effective and people expect current information at their fingertips anytime anywhere, a desktop and mobile workplace platform will facilitate VCSU’s enrollment, retention, graduation, and giving efforts by instilling a sense of belonginess and increasing the connectedness with the university and the community,” Quirk said. “The desktop and mobile workplace platform is a cornerstone technology that will provide a more streamlined and effective user experience. The platform will provide SSO (Single Sign On) to reduce confusion of VCSU and NDUS credentials and greatly reduce the number of system logins required by users on a daily basis.

“It will serve as the primary point of contact between the university and its constituents that they can rely on to receive/access critical information,” he added. “A carefully planned desktop and mobile workplace can minimize information overload and provide dynamic and timely content customized for various constituent groups.”

CTS assisted on the SSO setup and configuration as well as integrations with Campus Connection and Blackboard.

According to Joe Tykwinski, VCSU chief information officer, the system is no stranger to using SaaS, as it allowed a campus to save on server space as the vendor provides the software and the hosting. The addition of Modo provides a framework with templates that facilitates the creation of a mobile app for both Apple iOS and Android mobile devices, he noted.

Tykwinski stated that the project was undertaken because data suggested both a mobile device opportunity and a need for a SSO solution.

“92.4% of students, 88.3% of faculty and 88.6% of staff respondents to the fall 2020 technology survey indicated they have a smartphone capable of supporting a mobile app,” he said. “This is a large portion of VCSU constituents that will realize new capabilities. The proposed solution also creates a web page that is viewable on a computer, so virtually all VCSU users can benefit to some degree because VCSU issues laptop computers to all full-time students and faculty, plus all office and administrative staff.”

He added that the introduction of the service would increase the likelihood of communications reaching students faster. Data showed that in a in the 30 days between February 24 and March 24, 25 percent (364 of 1,459) of VCSU students did not access their VCSU Office 365 email account. Further data revealed that roughly one-third of calls, chats and tickets at the Technology Service Desk relate back to login issues.

Tykwinski added that because Modo was a framework with a lot of components, the environment will continue to expand during the next year.

“We have envisioned a persona for new and perspective students and in the future, we might even create a persona for a limited time for a big campus event involving lots of guests,” he said. “It will impact everyone with VCSU credentials, plus we will soon launch a persona specific to alumni. The alumni persona will not require VCSU credentials. In the future we may even create a persona for a limited time for a big campus event involving lots of guests that do not have campus credentials.”

Tykwinski concluded by noting that credit should be given to University of North Dakota for doing an RFP for this service, and that VCSU, UND and CTS have communicated and shared ideas throughout the contracting and implementation phases of this project.