Industry 4.0 and the Post-secondary education sector

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The developed world is gradually moving into the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0) which is characterised by critical enablers for cyber physical systems, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud technologies and new governance models based on cryptographic methods.

OPENCOLLAB, with 18 years’ experience in the post-secondary education sector, has been assessing the impact these trends may have on this sector. It goes without saying that as things move towards Industry 4.0, a major shift may be required in our approach to delivering software solutions to educational institutions.

As cloud application services such as PAAS (Platform-as-a-Service), IAAS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) or SAAS (Software-as-a-Service) become more widely used,  institutions still seem to be slow to adopt as they continue to question cyber security and the location of data centres, regulations being implemented in countries and regions around privacy of personal information, the ability to provide easy and trusted access to (legacy) institutional systems, and the impact of internet latency and general bandwidth availability. Some outdated methodologies and processes may not be effective anymore to enable educational institutions to move into this new era.

Important questions that arise out of this discussion are: How do we collaborate with CIOs, their staff and the institution in general to engage in these Industry 4.0 initiatives? Institutions already find themselves under immense pressure to deliver business requirements in this age of technological innovation. How do we ensure that we assist our clients in distinguishing noise from reality?

Blockchain technology has been identified as one of Gartner’s top ten strategic digital technology trends for 2017 and the financial, government, and post-school education sector are starting to understand its potential and are exploring how it can be used.

The fact that the blockchain is a distributed database on a peer-to-peer network and that transactions are signed digitally using public key cryptography, makes it extremely secure. In the post-secondary education sector, its uses include the ability to authenticate identity (for systems support or student credibility purposes) with the added value that the same technology, in principle, can be used to verify academic credentials (for example using the Blockcerts open source initiative developed by the Learning Machine Group and MIT) and to create ‘smart’ contracts. The applicability of BAAS (Blockchain-As-A-Service) in the post-secondary education sector deserves to be considered.

At OPENCOLLAB we believe that business development is all about the customer, thus keeping up to date with revolutionary technologies and creating a subsequent market for our portfolio of solutions. The cryptographically secured blockchain gives service companies the opportunity to introduce educational institutions to Industry 4.0 by taking trust to a new level.

Elsabe Botha is the Business Development Manager at OPENCOLLAB (www.opencollab.co.za).
Contact: elsabe@opencollab.co.za

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