Baylor University: Delivering quick wins and long-term connections with mobile

Baylor University builds a mobile foundation with Ellucian Mobile and Banner® by Ellucian

Baylor University took the long view of its mobile strategy when it chose Ellucian Mobile. The solution offers integration to Banner® by Ellucian and Single-sign-on (SSO) to third-party applications, providing Baylor’s mobile-hungry students with the fast, simple, and useful interactions that they expect from an institution dedicated to preparing them for the workforce.

“The Ellucian mobile app will bring everything together in one place. The integration into Banner is a big selling point,” said Steven Kucera, assistant vice president for information systems and services.

A complete mobile solution with native integration to Banner, Ellucian Mobile lets Baylor deliver a broad and deep range of secure transactions and interactions that create a truly digital campus. Ellucian keeps the mobile solution in synch as both products and mobile devices evolve and are updated.

“Banner is central to the operations of the university,” said Joey Yglecias, analyst/programmer, information systems and services, Baylor University. “From a developer’s perspective, having a product like Ellucian Mobile, which integrates to Banner, provides a great advantage to us because it enables a safe and efficient way to access our data.”

The solution also supports integration to third-party applications. “Students are asking for the ability to look up the balance on their ‘BearBucks’ accounts, or report lost or stolen ID cards. We are exploring functionality for buying books through our third-party bookstore. It definitely lets us take mobile to the next level,” said Kucera.

Another factor that swayed Baylor’s decision to choose Ellucian Mobile is the institution’s existing relationship with the company. “We were already familiar with Ellucian through our Banner systems, which gave us a natural comfort level with their products and support,” said Yglecias.

“The Ellucian mobile app will bring everything together in one place. The integration into Banner is a big selling point.”
Steven Kucera, Assistant Vice President for Information Systems and Services.

Less work; more flexibility

Choosing Ellucian Mobile rather than building a mobile solution in house let Baylor deploy and customize the solution quickly.

“Launching a mobile platform is a ton of work,” said Yglecias. “Unlike us, Ellucian has a whole team to devote to mobile. It was great to have a solution in a single package that provided a platform to build on.”

There was a bit of a learning curve with the new technologies like Grails and Apache Tomcat that support Ellucian Mobile. But Yglecias found helpful resources through The Commons, Ellucian’s online user community.

“From an IT perspective, having people at other schools to talk to is a great value-added benefit. I got a lot of good advice from people through The Commons,” said Yglecias.

Staying ahead of the curve

The university quickly deployed native features including campus map, directory, notifications, news, events, and multimedia support. Baylor calls the app “OsoMobile”. “Oso” is Spanish for bear, the university mascot.

Freshmen were introduced to the mobile app during orientation for the fall 2014 semester, and the solution’s built-in Google analytics showed a big increase in downloads following the orientation. To date, about 4,300 Baylor users have downloaded the app.

Initial reaction from students is positive. Said Kucera, “Students tell us it’s ‘cool’ and has nice features. Putting up the mobile app for registration will be a big event. It will get more people excited about mobile.”

The university is eager to explore additional apps that will benefit students, faculty, and staff. “If we see something on The Commons that is a good fit, we can bring in code built by another school. Part of the beauty of the solution is we control the code. Ellucian Mobile gives us a foundation to continue to grow upon,” said Kucera.

“Ellucian Mobile gives us a good foundation to continue to grow upon.”
Steven Kucera, Assistant Vice President for Information Systems and Services.