OU IT Partners with Accenture

Have you ever met with your advisor and wished you could spend more time discussing interesting classes and career options and less time trying to figure out your schedule? We want that for you too! That’s why OU IT is partnering with Accenture, a leading global professional services and technology firm, to improve the student experience on campus.

In 2017, Accenture was seeking a university partner to co-develop software using innovative technologies.  In OU they found what they were looking for: a leading edge research institution with a clear interest in student experience, a true spirit of innovation, a cohesive and engaged academic and administrative community, strong technical leadership, and outstanding students with the technical skills needed for such an undertaking. We’re thrilled they chose to partner with us.

So, what are going to work on together? Accenture recently met with many colleges and universities around the country and conducted surveys with students and administrators to find out what mattered most in higher education and what would make the biggest impact on the student experience. Based on survey results, as well as insights from other industries, they identified a series of technologies such as artificial intelligence, internet of things, machine learning, advanced analytics, and augmented/virtual reality, that could potentially change higher education for the better.

The initial project of the partnership centers around using artificial intelligence to create an up-to-date application for students that provides them with a clear picture of what classes they need to take and when they need to take them. The goal is to not only make the enrollment process clear and easily accessible for students, but also to give advisors an opportunity to focus on what they do best: advising!

Giving students the ability to find the classes they need quickly and enabling advisors to focus more on the students in front of them have meaningful benefits beyond just the pre-enrollment meeting. You’ve probably heard a fair amount lately about retention rates. Schools across the country are seeking new ways to help students stay in school and graduate on time, and of course we are too. In fact, OU recently announced a 92% retention rate this fall, a number we’re very proud of.

But the national average of students that start college as a freshman and graduate within four years is only 36%. If you extend that time to six years, the average is still only 60%. Some of the factors contributing to this issue are things like job loss, personal challenges, and family issues–things that cannot be controlled. But some portion is attributable to students not being able to get the classes they need when they need them to ensure they are on track for graduating in four years.

Ian Watt, who is Accenture’s Higher Education Strategy Lead, says their interest is not just creating technologies for the sake of it. Accenture looks at four factors before committing to a project. They believe whatever they are working on should be meaningful, beneficial, scalable, and responsible.

One meaningful aspect that we are particularly excited about is that through this process Accenture will have the opportunity to mentor and potentially hire students engaged in the project. The team of students working on the project are currently focused on data science and advanced analytics and will execute a tangible, real-world application in their course curriculum.

This team hopes to have a working prototype by this spring! We are so excited and can’t wait to see how this project impacts the OU community.

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