How The Growth of Esports Could Transform College Enrollment

Colleges around the country are always competing to attract students to their organizations and this requires constant adaptation to the needs of the marketplace and a willingness to change with the times.  With more competition than ever, its those colleges that can expand their marketing and enrolment strategies that will stay on the cutting-edge.  It’s difficult to do this, of course, because of the status quo bias that we all carry with us – but it’s a crucial skill for 2022 and beyond.

One good example of where this is coming into play is in how colleges treat new, emerging trends like the growth of esports.  It feels like we’re at an inflection point right as the industry continues to expand – and it feels like the right time to tackle just what this means for the future of higher education.  We believe that it represents a tremendous opportunity to grab onto some new potential – but we’ll let you be the judge of it.

Let’s dive in.

What are Esports and Why Do They Matter?

Esports refers to organized competitions where people compete in video game format.  Any video game can fall into this category and what sets it apart from a mere hobby is the vast industry that has developed around it.  In a very short space of time, we’ve gotten to a place where large audiences are wanting to watch these competitions, funders who want to back it, and professional players who see this as a viable long-term career for the very first time.

To give you a sense of the scale here, some competitions can fill football stadiums with in-person fans, while still collecting thousands of people watching live online.  It’s kind of surreal to think about the fact that video game competitions are garnering such interest – but that’s where the world is moving.  Thanks to advancements in networking technology, the rapid growth of online streaming, and a societal change to the status of these games, this is now a very serious thing that all colleges should have their eyes on.

We rarely see such a distinct shift in something like this, and so it’s certainly worth paying attention to.

How Should Colleges Think About Esports?

There are some compelling reasons why colleges should be taking this trend seriously and adapting their strategies accordingly.  Here are some of the ones that stand out:

  • New Sporting Code.  For many colleges, the sporting component of the university is incredibly important.  It plays a major role in terms of raising funds, creating a strong brand, providing a well-rounded student experience, and developing an ecosystem of excellence that goes beyond the academics themselves.  

It’s in this vein that esports should be seriously considered as a new sporting code.  It’s inevitable that this world will continue to grow and colleges would do well to set themselves apart by recognizing this early and leaning into the potential here.  By attracting some of the top esports players that are coming out of schools, you give yourself a chance to optimize your admissions for the future – capturing talent that was previously not fully appreciated and creating a student body that represents the full spectrum of the modern world.  It also will help to create a strong sporting environment that can bear fruit in the future.

  • Transferable Skills.  Leaning into esports is also a counter-intuitive way of investing in skills that are very valuable in our modern era.  The very nature of esports is that it engrosses students in technology in a way that can be much more immersive and entertaining than some other means.  We’re always looking for ways to incentivize more engagement with STEM-related subjects and this is a great way to do this.  

Whether it’s the playing of the games itself, or the work that comes with setting up and managing the competitions, there is space for an entirely new collective to grow around these esports that can provide students with a new way to engage, learn, and advance as people.

  • Critical Thinking.  It might not seem so at first glance, but esports actually provides the perfect environment for the development of critical thinking skills.  In any game that you play, there are a range of cognitive and procedural things that you must learn in order to overcome obstacles and achieve the end objectives of the game.  The feedback loops on this learning are immediate and because the rewards are gamified, students don’t even see it as learning.  It becomes a trojan horse that trains concentration, strategic thinking, teamwork, and problem-solving in a way that just can’t be replicated via textbook or lecture.  

As we do more scientific studies into this phenomenon we’ll understand it better, but what is for sure is that these esports are so much more than just about the game.  They are a virtual microcosm for young people to explore new concepts and stretch themselves in service of their cognitive development.

Those are just three of the major points of consideration that should be front of mind for colleges the world over.  By taking these seriously and preparing for what is to come, you put yourself ahead of the game.

Where To From Here?

It’s clear that this trend isn’t turning around and while some dismiss it, others see the opportunity for something special here.  It can help with college enrollment, open up new pathways, and create spaces for new sorts of student engagement that might just transform the way that you think about your admissions process.

Those colleges who get ahead of the curve and start readying themselves for this future are going to have a significant advantage over those who ignore the signs.  Esports are here to stay and they are going to play a major role at the intersection of sport and technology going forward.  It’s time that we remove the stigma from this industry and embrace the rapid growth and widespread benefits that such sports can provide.

Why College Enrollment is Declining and How SIS Can Help

When colleges and universities were forced to close their doors midway through the spring of 2020 due to the COVID-19 virus, no one anticipated it would have such a dramatic effect on enrollment for the next two years.

In the fall of 2020, the first full semester in the pandemic, undergraduate enrollment dropped by 3.4%. That initial decline was expected as many students opted to stay home amidst fears of the virus. However, with multiple vaccines available and infection cases dropping, most experts predicted that enrollment rates would rebound.

That did not happen.

Enrollment dropped another 3.2% in the fall of 2021. This continued decline marks the biggest two-year decrease in the last 50 years.

While many believe that the pandemic is the primary reason for smaller undergraduate classes, the truth is that COVID only boosted what was already happening. There has been a steady decrease in new students enrolling in colleges and universities across the country. Between 2011 and 2019, student enrollment dropped 11%.

This decline has affected every type of higher-level institution – from community colleges and public state schools to for-profits and private liberal arts schools – forcing some smaller schools to permanently close. However, the schools most affected are two-year community colleges which saw a 14.1% decline in enrollment during the past two years.

Why Are Fewer Students Attending College?

Before the pandemic, the biggest reason for declining enrollment was that the U.S. was experiencing a strong economy. Historically, when there is a recession and unemployment is up, people use that opportunity to get a higher education. When the economy is strong, more people leave college early or postpone it to start working.

However, with the sudden recession brought on by the pandemic, many families found themselves unable to pay for their children to attend college. This resulted in the numbers continuing to decline despite historical trends.

Also, colleges must account for the rise of non-traditional options like online colleges, massive open online courses (MOOCs) and technology bootcamps that offer industry-recognized certifications. These educational avenues are more affordable and oftentimes more accessible to students weighing their options.

And finally, the cost of college is also playing a major factor in the falling enrollment numbers. While there are financial benefits to earning a college degree, rising costs are beginning to take their toll on prospective students. Between 2009 and 2019, the cost of college increased by more than 25% at private universities and almost 30% at public schools.

What Impact Does Lower Enrollment Have on Colleges and Universities?

To put it bluntly, lower enrollment means there is less tuition being paid to the university. This has a direct impact on the school’s operating budget, resulting in cutbacks including, but not limited to:

  • Labor force reductions.
  • Canceled or diminished programs.
  • Postponed or canceled campus improvements.

How An Effective Student Information System Integration Can Help Improve College Enrollment

At some schools, there is little communication or collaboration between different departments or offices. Departments buy competing software tools that serve the same purpose instead of consolidating purchases under a single, effective solution. This makes it difficult for students to apply while understanding admission requirements and course transfer equivalencies.

If institutions wants to improve enrollment, they need to rethink their practices, especially for recruitment, admission and registration. The key is making everything as simple as possible for your prospective students – a one-stop-shop where they can access everything they need to apply.

To do this you need an easy-to-use and effective student information system (SIS) that is fully integrated with data systems across the institution.

By leveraging the full capabilities of your SIS, you can offer your students a fast and easy-to-use solution that allows them to access and handle every aspect of their student journey.

  • Admissions
  • Enrollment
  • Tuition
  • Financial Aid
  • Class Registration
  • Degree Program Planning
  • Graduation

You can also use SIS data analytics to make predictive models based on past and current trends. Used correctly, you can predict future trends in enrollment and adjust your recruitment efforts accordingly. For example, institutions might focus on specific demographics to maximize recruitment in key areas or recruit specific majors based on changes in enterprise, technology, or society. This helps drive traffic and encourages students to begin the steps necessary to admission.

Transfer equivalency software lets prospective students input their previous coursework from dual-credit high school work or classes from another college and immediately see how it applies to their new program course requirements. They can also compare different program requirements so they can determine which requires the fewest additional classes to graduate. This results in quicker graduation and savings for the student.

Academic course tracking software like Ellucian Degree Works provides comprehensive advising and degree auditing that helps students understand which courses to take and when to take them. This helps students understand course requirements, program timelines and course transfer status quicker and easier so they do not waste time and money taking unnecessary or redundant courses.

In addition, a mobile-friendly SIS is the preferred option for students as it eliminates a student’s reliance on their computer to access their degree program or enrollment data. Mobile access allows them to easily upload documents to the financial aid office or send vaccination records to the enrollment office.

Custom SIS Solutions for Your College or University

Columbia Advisory Group’s (CAG) mission is to provide the technology, resources, guidance and support you need to effectively optimize your SIS solution at your college or university. From IT consulting and managed services to ERP, LMS and SIS implementation and management, CAG delivers custom solutions that are flexible, scalable, and cost-effective to help you with your enrollment challenges.

CAG helps you create a unique student interface that’s simple, seamless, and branded. We integrate systems so that everything from application to enrollment follows automated admission rules so students do not have to jump through hoops to get accepted.

Using the Banner SIS suite, or your chosen SIS system, CAG can help you provide your students access to an entire suite of solutions that lets them do everything including applying for admission, registering for classes, tracking their progress, and filing for graduation. CAG can help you choose and integrate SUS modules that you can use to create more efficient and streamlined business processes. This helps you focus on recruiting the type of students you want while marketing your school to the right prospects.

To learn more about how CAG can help you improve your SIS solutions to better serve your current and prospective students, click here and let us know how we can help you.

Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative by the US Department Of Justice (DoJ): Everything You Need to Know!

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has officially launched its new Civil Cyber-Fraud initiative. It enacted the legislation to strengthen cybersecurity standards among contractors undertaking government projects and receiving federal funds and other grant recipients such as universities. Such organizations and beneficiaries need to address cybersecurity risks and report breaches to comply with the latest legislation and regulatory guidelines

The new Cyber Fraud Initiative from the US Department of Justice brings together the department’s expertise in civil fraud enforcement, government contracting, and cybersecurity to counteract existing and growing cybersecurity risks to confidential material and safety infrastructure. The Department of Justice is working to improve the resilience of the country and its critical information infrastructure (CII) against increasingly sophisticated cybersecurity threats via new reforms was much needed to ensure the protection of trade secrets, Intellectual Property (IP), proprietary knowledge, trademarks, and copyrights, protecting the privacy of all stakeholders involved, and preventing sensitive and confidential information from falling into the hands of threat actors. This will ensure that taxpayers’ money is used diligently and will also help build public trust in the system in safeguarding their valuable information assets.

Cyber Fraud: Some Key Statistics

According to AtlasVPN, the damages to organizations by cybercrimes from 2019 to the current time have increased by 37.4% with each passing year. Further, the rate of cybercrimes will increase by over 40%.

CAGImage-CyberSecurity2

Some of the vital cybercrime statistics in the US and around the globe shows how threatening and challenging cybercrime has become:

  • FBI’s IC3 reported complaints in 2020 contained over 241,342 phishing, 76,741 extortion, and over 45,000 personal data cyber breaches.
  • Malicious actors attack 1/5th of educational institutions and universities, with 65% of data breaches targeting higher-education centers.
  • 2022 will be the year for misinformation campaigns surrounding cybercrimes, which will become the new attack vector.
  • Cybercrimes are ever-increasing and are estimated to cost $10.5 trillion per annum to businesses by 2025.

The New Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative By The US DoJ

The new Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative will use the False Claims Act to investigate cybersecurity-related misconduct by government contractors and those receiving federal grants and funds. The Act also incorporates the “whistleblower” clause that permits individuals who volunteer evidence pertinent to an inquiry to benefit from any assets seized. The Department of Justice will utilize the FCA (False Claims Act) to hold primary liability for failure to satisfy cybersecurity criteria, including prosecutions for:

  • Offerings and services that aren’t up to par in terms of cybersecurity within the organization or for knowingly providing deficient cybersecurity products or services.
  • Cybersecurity-related information, cybersecurity protocols, and processes that are misrepresented or falsified.
  • Negligence by management or the organization in managing, tracking, and notifying cybersecurity incidents and data breaches.

While the DOJ’s approach is novel, the use of the False Claims Act to compel cybersecurity adherence is not. Still, due to the current Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative, it has become more crucial than ever for institutions to be ready to deal with constitutional issues relevant to cyber intrusions. On a high level, the Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative:

  • Holds the government contractors and grantees to their commitments to protect government information and infrastructure.
  • Ensures that government contractors recognize and develop strategies to comply with contract terms, statutes, and federal requirements.
  • Provides an opportunity for reimbursement of taxpayers’ and governments’ money if there is a compromise at the organization’s end.
  • Drives organizations receiving government grants and funds also work to build a strong cybersecurity posture.

Industries to be Impacted by The New Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative

The Department of Justice’s Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative may impact almost all private, public, or government organizations receiving government funds or grants, but let’s look at its impact on some of the critical sectors in detail:

  • Health Care and Life Sciences: The Cyber Fraud Initiative would target federal employees and federally funded beneficiaries. Therefore, medical and life sciences organizations that partner with or receive support from the legislative branch may be susceptible to FCA inspection.
  • Educational Institutions: Failure to comply with the Cyber-Fraud Initiative may have far-reaching ramifications for universities and higher education institutions receiving government funds and grants but who lack adequate cybersecurity safeguards. In consideration of federal requirements, every university or college that retains critical or privileged information must carefully evaluate the forms and the efficacy of its security controls and procedures.
  • Banking and Financial Industry: Banking and financial organizations are a significant target for malicious actors because of the scale and sensitivity of data that they store. Following the Cyber Fraud Initiative, all monetary regulators will need sufficient documentation and reporting structures, cybersecurity policies, and incident response strategies since any violation of rules would hold them accountable and liable.
  • Defense Industry: The initiative brings in the DOJ’s expertise and experience in various government procurement and civil fraud enforcement to combat emerging cybersecurity threats and risks. This helps protect confidential and sensitive information and critical information systems. For instance, if a defense contractor misuses trade secrets stored digitally in the form of government intellectual property n, the contractor could become liable, especially if the contractor fails to report the breach.

Risks of Non-Compliance

Non-Compliance with the new Civil Cyber Fraud Initiative opens organizations and individuals to various risks, such as:

  • Increased Liability Risks: The Department of Justice announced that it intends to hold organizations and individuals liable for various actions, including intentionally offering inadequate cybersecurity services, deliberately mischaracterizing their cybersecurity practices or procedures, and knowingly failing to report data breaches and infringements. Contractors may be held liable for failure to cooperate with cyber breach reporting terms in government contracts within the Cyber Fraud Initiative.
  • Penalties on Enterprises and Individuals: NIST 800-171 applies to any organization or agency that deals with Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI). Those who do not adhere to statutory cybersecurity requirements could be prosecuted using the FCA clause in the Cyber Fraud Initiative and face a penalty. Furthermore, besides enterprises, DoJ can hold civilians legally responsible for cybersecurity-related fraud.
  • Increased Litigation Risks: The Department of Justice notably emphasizes relying on whistleblowers to help the government restore order in its announcement. After determining their cybersecurity basis, organizations should consider implementing an internal review with counsel to compare their declarations to the federal government. The FCA cyber-risk exposes the organization to litigation if any disparities with the legal framework are identified.

Recommendations: Here is What Organizations Can Do!

Organizations can protect themselves better and ensure compliance with the Department of Justice’s new law with the help of:

  • Internal Audits and Assessments: Organizations should continue to identify their key information assets and evaluate their readiness for a cyber breach, and internal audits and assessments play a critical role in it. Based on the internal assessment, organizations can prioritize actions and processes to protect their information assets before, during, and after a security incident or data breach.
  • Continuous Monitoring and Reviews: Organizations must implement changes to continuously monitor changes within the technology environment, vulnerability management, and activities to anticipate various infringements with federal regulatory frameworks, processes, and policies. They may use whistleblowers to help with the process.
  • Documentation: Clearly written standards, plans, and policies are essential for ensuring the organization’s compliance with the cybersecurity requirements as per the government. Robust documentation will also help resolve internal issues and potential leaks eliminating questions regarding the standard operating procedures (SOPs) to be followed to effectively identify and address a security incident.
  • Internal Discussions: The Management should ensure that all policy conformity discussions with the government are correctly recorded and readily available. They must also collaborate with individuals who identify issues to analyze risk exposures.

Final Words

The Department of Justice’s Cyber Fraud Initiative seeking compliance with the False Claims Act is the government’s official legal remedy for for cybersecurity negligence and fraud. The strategy raises the bar for adherence initiatives for federal contractors or federal grant beneficiaries, such as universities. The latter are far more at risk concerning adopting essential cybersecurity precautions and deciding whether or not to disclose a violation because of the False Claims Act.

Expect increased FCA litigation against organizations that fail to mitigate the risk of cyber breaches. Attentive cybersecurity compliance procedures will ensure protect sensitive data an minimize the risk of significant fines under the FCA.

References

  1. Krotoski, M., Baruch, D., & Fan, S. (2021, December 08). Are you prepared for DOJ’s Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative? Morgan Lewis.
    https://www.morganlewis.com/pubs/2021/12/are-you-prepared-for-dojs-civil-cyber-fraud-initiative
  2. Department of Justice. (2021, October 6). Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco announces new Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative.
    https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/deputy-attorney-general-lisa-o-monaco-announces-new-civil-cyber-fraud-initiative
  3. Gersh, D., Moundas, C., O’Connor, A., Darch, J. & Hardy, G. (2021, November 24). DOJ Civil Cyber-Fraud Initiative may impact health care and life sciences companies. Mondaq.
    https://www.mondaq.com/unitedstates/security/1134852/doj-civil-cyber-fraud-initiative-may-impact-health-care-and-life-sciences-companies
  4. Shaheen, M., Bartle, S., & Trujillo, G. (2022, January 19). Cybersecurity compliance requirements may surprise higher ed. University Business.
    https://universitybusiness.com/cybersecurity-compliance-requirements-may-surprise-higher-ed/
  5. Ross, R., Pillitteri, V., Dempsey, K., Riddle, M., & Guissanie, G. (2020). Protecting controlled unclassified information in nonfederal systems and organizations. Gaithersburg, MD: National Institute of Standards and Technology.
  6. The false claims act. (2019, June 17). Retrieved February 20, 2022, from Justice.gov website: https://www.justice.gov/civil/false-claims-act

Financing Innovation and Hedging Against Technology Uncertainty in Higher Education

In the EDUCAUSE Top 10 IT (INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY) Issues for 2022, one leader stated, I believe that we have the opportunity to reconceptualize how it is that we are no longer going to be in front of the classroom but, instead, we’re going to be facilitators of knowledge. 1

As your organization considers how to facilitate knowledge, I draw your attention to the article’s Point #5, The Digital versus Brick-and-Mortar Balancing GameCreating a blended campus to provide digital and physical work and learning spaces. 

The traditional classroom learning model is in flux. Administrators, facilitators, and students are all looking for more efficient and accommodating ways to transfer information. Classroom schedules are becoming less rigid as online and on-demand resources are emerging.

There will be a lot of trial and error as innovative thinkers try to create a balance between the digital and the physical learning spaces. Some ideas will work better than others. It will be a tremendous demand for both the technical and functional resources.

As always, we consider the cost. When innovative technology delivers on expectations, it is well worth the investment. But, too often, the technology is too new and does not deliver exactly as hoped and budget resources are wasted.

While businesses may have some of the same challenges as education, businesses innovate using a different acquisition model. Many businesses have gone to a “as a Service” for their technology. Instead of capital expenditure purchases (CapEx) for depreciating assets, businesses are opting for monthly service fee (OpEx)  for innovative technologyAs with most software licenses, institutions pay a monthly fee for equipment, Installation, warranty, and ongoing support. As technology changes, they simply roll out the old technology and replace it with new without the need for additional CapEx.

Higher Education can benefit from this model, too. Instead of making large acquisitions for depreciating technology like audio visual and classroom education technology, many institutions are moving to “Audio Visual as a Service (AVaaS). 

AV as a Service: 

  • Provides budget predictability – no unforeseen costs 
  • Allows flexibility to scale up or down as needs change 
  • Makes it possible to standardize AV systems while taking advantage of manufacturer volume discounts 
  • Frees up IT resources with centralized systems monitoring to enable focus on other strategic initiatives 
  • Provides the benefit of an ongoing, consistent, reliable AV technology partnership with industry professionals  

As you think about how you will create the perfect blend of the physical and the digital for your organization, consider AV as a Service. If you want some ideas on how it might work best for your organization, we can help.

Columbia Advisory Group offers design, procurement, Logistics, installation, configuration, financing, and maintenance as a Service over 36- and 60-month periods.

1. Susan Grajek and the 2021–2022 EDUCAUSE IT Issues Panel, “Top 10 IT Issues, 2022: The Higher Education We Deserve,” EDUCAUSE Articles, November 1, 2021.

How To Harness the Power of your Student Data Analytics

IT management for schools and universities requires specialized knowledge and experience. Some IT departments face challenges that they can’t overcome alone. Integrating new enrollment and tuition payments systems is one such challenge that can prove daunting, but not impossible.

Columbia Advisory Group offers technical consulting services to organizations like schools and universitieshospitals, and a variety of retail locations. These services include integrating data feeds into usable, unified formats. Organizations can then use this information to help them achieve specific goals like improving recruitment, enrollment and retention.

How Powerful are Student Analytics?

Schools can use student data analytics to support decisions regarding enrollment, course schedules, outreach, tuition projections, room usage, and many other topics. We can also help improve university IT services and the school’s cybersecurity policies and implementations.

Texas A&M University tasked Columbia Advisory Group’s ERP specialist team with creating a recruiting and candidate tracking system. Additionally, they asked the team to generate a data clearinghouse to facilitate enrollment and tuition payments across the ten participating colleges and universities within the Texas A&M University System so that students had a seamless system allowing them to take courses from multiple institutions.

The specialist team faced several challenges. Each campus had separate groups of student information systems, including various versions of Banner. The separate systems meant that tuition and administrative data was isolated on each campus. The team had to analyze each data system and the recruiting needs of each campus to develop an effective system.

The CAG team created data feeds from each campus that aggregated into one database. Students were then able to use one interface to take courses from any institution. Real-time data feeds meant that information was immediately available to each member institution to help them make business decisions.

This new system allowed payments to be made to a central location and then sent to the respective institution. Students were given a single system log-in to view their courses and grades. Having a single access point achieved the important goal of creating a simplified student experience. Without the new system, admission levels might have dropped if prospective students faced a complex enrollment and payment procedure.

Data Simplification is What We Do

Columbia Advisory Group helped make it possible for the Texas A&M University System to increase enrollment for member universities. The system CAG helped design is flexible and can be scaled to match enrollment growth. Columbia Advisory Group can develop new functions for the system when needed.

Columbia Advisory Group can help innovate IT services in education industry settings. Their 100+ years of combined experience can improve the business performance of any institution. They can harness the power from student data analytics to deliver solutions that many other teams can’t.

Texas A&M University – Commerce faculty worked with CAG to provide human connection to assisted living residents.

CAG is proud of the work that our own Dr. Chris Jones is doing with the faculty at Texas A&M University – Commerce to help assisted-living residents stay in touch with relatives using robotic technology. It is just one more way we encourage our on-site staff like Dr. Jones at our University IT managed service sites to seamlessly work with faculty to support tech innovation.

As social distancing requirements surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic have shifted the way we interact with the world around us, researchers at Texas A&M University-Commerce are seizing the opportunity to further their research into the connection between humans and robots.

Dr. Rebecca Judd, associate professor and department head for the School of Social Work, and Dr. Chris Jones, lead web application developer in the Center for IT Excellence, have placed a service robot at Legacy Assisted-Living & Memory Care in Denison, Texas. They hope the robot, named Temi, will help isolated residents communicate with loved ones outside of the facility.

“Assistive robots offer a unique opportunity to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable populations,” says Judd. Many long-term care patients are unable to utilize smart phone technology due to physical or cognitive disabilities.

Standing just over 3 feet tall, Temi is a robot on wheels with a ten-inch touchscreen display used to interact with humans. The robot can identify, understand and respond to voice commands. It can navigate through hallways, remember room locations and maneuver effortlessly around obstacles in its path. It can check the weather, play music or even tell a joke.

Residents can use voice or touch commands to video conference with their family members through Temi’s digital display, which is visually similar to a tablet computer. When a call is received, Temi can steer its way to the resident’s location while the caller looks on through the built-in camera. Callers can spend time with their loved ones, almost as if they were actually in the room. Temi can follow the resident during the call, and return home to its power base afterward to recharge.

“Social work is based on human relationships; we can learn to deploy the robots in ways to improve the overall human condition,” Judd continued. “Whether it’s helping a family member make meaningful contact with a loved one during the current pandemic, or placing robots in schools to help children with special needs overcome daily challenges.”

Temi has the ability to do much more during its time at the assisted-living facility. Temi can assist the staff as they monitor and care for the residents. It can roam hallways autonomously, check in on patients and get help if needed. The unit can also be steered by staff members through an app. Soon, Temi will be able to record a patient’s vitals and update their records by connecting to peripheral devices such as thermometers, weight scales and blood-pressure cuffs.

Jones says the possibilities are endless. He collaborates with the company in California that produces Temi, and estimates there are roughly fifteen-thousand Temi units worldwide. They’re all connected to a cloud-based neural network, so they learn from each other as each unit experiences and overcomes new challenges. A Software Development Kit (SDK) is available so that developers like himself can program Temi for other functions.

“It’s an autonomous computer on wheels and it’s a blank slate,” said Jones. “That’s perfect for developers because we can make them do anything we want them to do. The sky is the limit.”

He says the robots can be used for a wide range of purposes in homes, businesses, stores and restaurants, universities, libraries and museums, and the hospitality industry.

Jones hopes to see more Temi robots around campus. He believes, as universities and schools begin to embrace artificial intelligence robots like Temi, people will find it easier to interact freely with technology.

“This is where we’re moving to,” Jones says. “We’re integrating technology with people, and this is how easy it is to interface with these technologies.”

Columbia Advisory Group Launches Enhanced Services and Adds Key Resource Hires to Support Accelerated Growth

Columbia Advisory Group (CAG), a well-respected Information Technology (IT) consulting firm, has expanded to better support client needs with employees in Houston, Texas and Atlanta, Georgia. The employees are collocated with clients for on-site support and consulting.

“The geographical expansion, along with new hires in those locations, has enabled Columbia Advisory Group to grow our resources and offer additional services and support, which better meet the needs of our clients,” said David McLaughlin, President and CEO of Columbia Advisory Group. “Our recent new hires bolster our security and infrastructure practices, as well as our technology architecture practice. We have seen significant growth and sophistication in these areas and continue to stay on the leading edge of the industry.”

CAG works with its clients to create and provide detailed IT analysis and solutions. CAG’s IT due diligence services provide EBITDA visibility, identify and mitigate IT risks, and minimize investment thesis execution risk. The company is known for working with difficult and demanding IT problems in a variety of economic, regulatory and budgetary environments. The industries representative of their clients include private equity and venture capital, higher education, non-profit, manufacturing, financial services, real estate, healthcare and pharmacy, as well as media and publishing.

About Columbia Advisory Group:
Columbia Advisory Group (CAG) is a well-respected Information Technology (IT) consulting firm. An established and proven company with 100+ years of combined technology experience and business acumen, CAG’s team has assessed and helped improve the performance of more than 300 technology organizations and IT departments. By focusing on simple, meaningful and practical solutions combined with straight-forward analysis and recommendations, CAG’s team has experience in many regulatory and economic environments with companies and organizations of all sizes. CAG not only offers a deep understanding of IT, but its solutions are software and hardware agnostic. Whether a client is high growth or economically challenged, CAG can adapt to the complexities and nuances of that business. Based in Dallas, Texas, CAG works extensively with clients throughout the U.S. For more information, visit www.columbiaadvisory.com. The company can be found and followed on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Columbia Advisory Group Helped its Private Equity and Venture Capital Clients Deploy More Than $300M in 2014

Columbia Advisory Group (CAG), a well-respected Information Technology (IT) consulting firm, assisted its private equity and venture capital clients deploy more than $300M in capital by providing IT due diligence services during 2014. These deals included early stage venture capital investments, complex divestitures from publicly traded companies, and middle market manufacturing acquisitions.

“In the private equity space, we are unmatched in our due diligence expertise,” said Vice-President,CAG. “Many companies may claim to be proficient with IT due diligence; however, they also focus on accounting and finance, among others. Columbia Advisory Group is highly specialized and only focuses its due diligence efforts on IT.”

Wingate Partners, a Dallas based private equity firm, recently closed several new investments with CAG’s help. Brian Steinbrueck, Principal of Wingate Partners stated, “Columbia Advisory Group is our ‘go to’ technology partner because they combine a deep expertise in all IT related matters with a thorough knowledge of the business and transaction dynamics. They consistently delivered thorough analysis and insightful recommendations under aggressive timelines, which supported us in closing multiple acquisitions in 2014. We look forward to working with them again.”

Jeanne M. Sullivan, Special Advisor and Co-Founder of StarVest Partners commented, “I have worked with the management team at Columbia Advisory Group for many years. I know we can rely on them to offer sound advice and proven ideas for our IT due diligence. Their skills and hard work recently helped us quickly and smoothly close multiple transactions. I trust the team at CAG to give us solid insights about processes, tech resources and platform audits.”

“IT can be one of the largest overhead components of a company so how it works and what should or should not be invested in technology can significantly impact valuation and company performance. IT due diligence for Private Equity and Venture sponsors can be complex. Experienced judgment is necessary to ensure that our conclusions are thorough, that we maintain our best practices, and that we provide an independent point of view,” said David McLaughlin, President and CEO of CAG.

CAG works with its clients to create and provide detailed IT analysis and solutions. CAG’s IT due diligence services provide EBITDA visibility, identify and mitigate IT risks, and minimize investment thesis execution risk. The company is known for working with difficult and demanding IT problems in a variety of economic, regulatory and budgetary environments. The industries representative of their clients include private equity and venture capital, higher education, non-profit, manufacturing, financial services, real estate, healthcare and pharmacy, as well as media and publishing.

About Columbia Advisory Group:
Columbia Advisory Group (CAG) is a well-respected Information Technology (IT) consulting firm. An established and proven company with 100+ years of combined technology experience and business acumen, CAG’s team has assessed and helped improve the performance of more than 300 technology organizations and IT departments. By focusing on simple, meaningful and practical solutions combined with straight-forward analysis and recommendations, CAG’s team has experience in many regulatory and economic environments with companies and organizations of all sizes. CAG not only offers a deep understanding of IT, but its solutions are software and hardware agnostic. Whether a client is high growth or economically challenged, CAG can adapt to the complexities and nuances of that business. Based in Dallas, Texas, CAG works extensively with clients throughout the U.S. For more information, visit www.columbiaadvisory.com.

About Wingate Partners:
Wingate has a 27 year track record of purchasing controlling equity interests in companies with opportunity for substantial value creation from both improved operating performance and strategic changes. Wingate’s professionals bring substantial senior-level operating and strategic experience in addition to extensive careers in acquiring companies. www.wingatepartners.com

About StarVest Partners:
The team of StarVest Partners believes that we have a differentiated positioning in the venture capital community and a targeted investment strategy that allows StarVest to stand out among its competitors in sourcing unique opportunities and supplying capital to outstanding businesses. www.starvestpartners.com