I traveled to Indianapolis, Ind. for EDUCAUSE 2015 with much anticipation. EDUCAUSE bills itself as the “premier higher education IT event” and with over 3,000 expected in attendance, I was looking forward to the show. 

Let me tell you, EDUCAUSE did not disappoint! I was able to meet with countless higher education IT professionals and there was a lot on their minds. The consensus I reached was that many of them are fighting the same battles.

In many universities, it’s nearly impossible to prohibit other departments from buying their own IT products. One CIO told us that 43 percent of IT spend is outside of the IT department. This “rogue” buying behavior leads to purchasing outside of “set” standards, purchasing less quality product to save a few bucks or sometimes rogue buyers forget things like maintenance and upgrade contracts. In many cases, IT departments end up bailing out rogue buyers when the purchased solution doesn’t work out. The result is an expense higher than if that user would have just worked with IT in the first place.

Collaboration was also frequent topic at EDUCAUSE. Solutions for digital signage, lecture playback and video collaboration was prevalent. I was happy to introduce them to CDW’s Cloud Collaboration video service, CCC-VR, which was introduced at Cisco Live 2015. It’s the perfect fit for professor-student conferences and high quality communication between university departments and students. The highlight of this offering is the ease of use and low cost of entry to introduce video to your institution. Many attendees participated in a demo and saw the huge value CCC-VR brings to them.

Outside of the major manufacturers of IT hardware and software, I’d have to say that security vendors had the next largest share of the show floor. As one would expect, there were vendors focused on physical security, cybersecurity, as well as products that alerted campuses to threats. CDW brought in Singlewire Software to demonstrate InformaCast (IC), a market leader in mass notification software.

Mike Payne, an Account Executive from Singlewire, was on-hand at the CDW booth to demonstrate the impressive notification capabilities of the InformaCast software.

InformaCast can broadcast notifications about physical campus security, the weather or just about any event from any device to any device. For example, a university security officer could broadcast a tornado warning in the area from his smartphone to every desk phone, Jabber client, iPad, smart phone or IP speaker on campus. The ease of using IC combined with the speed at which everyone gets the notification is the key to Singlewire’s success.

EDUCAUSE met every expectation, both personally and professionally. It allowed me to network with an incredible bunch of IT vendors, partners and high-level customers throughout the show. EDUCAUSE took me to school and I’m looking forward to taking what I’ve learned and working with my team to help our higher ed customers solve their IT-related problems.

Couldn’t make it to EDUCAUSE in Indy this year? Check out EdTech Magazine’s complete coverage of this exciting, forward-thinking tech event.