New Year’s message from the President
Happy new year! Yes, I know it’s a trite phrase. It may even be an annoying one to hear some weeks after the year has already begun in earnest. Many of you are even now experiencing the pain points of trying to make good on those hasty New Year’s resolutions. Others were perhaps wise or jaded enough not to have made them in the first place! Nevertheless, there is real value in the reflection and planning that January inevitably evokes. The changing of the year is the time when we re-evaluate our priorities and try to, once again, place ourselves on a trajectory toward being the kind of person we want to be. You might be surprised to learn that it’s no different for companies.
As I write this message to the user community, I and many others are preparing for a gathering to hash out the big questions that shape the immediate and long-term future of CollegeSource. At the moment, we are diligently bringing together numbers that accurately reflect our performance from 2023 and predict our performance for 2024, with variations according to how we allocate critical resources.
The picture is an exciting one!
CollegeSource continues to be profitable. We have been in a growth cycle and “in the black” for well over a decade. While we are a healthy company, however, our profit margins continue to respect the restrictive budgets of higher education. No one gets “rich” in higher education; rather we all charge only what we must in order to create an excellent product, whether it’s a system that aids academic planning and transfer of credit or a student who is well-prepared to contribute to society and earn a reasonable living wage.
We are confident that we will be able to keep growing and delivering great products without resorting to some of our competitors’ methods – smoke and mirror tactics, building to sell, etc. I believe we are something of a unicorn in higher education, a long-term, independent, successful solution provider with a consistent vision. We have no plans to get eaten up by a larger entity or accept outside money that would force us to prioritize profits over everything else.
Last year we increased our staff by 6%, and in 2024 we will be seeking even more qualified individuals. While other companies are cutting as much as 20% across the board, we know our success depends on smart, committed workers. We continue to value higher education experience in our hiring because an understanding of that world is one that’s hard to communicate by training alone.
We also spent a lot of 2023 listening to you! We conducted intense interviews to collect “user stories.” When we focus on your work, we quickly see how we can focus our work to make better, more useful tools. These interviews have provided many great ideas for our transfer and degree achievement solutions! I’d tell you all about them, but we have to save some ideas for the Annual Conference! Also, I’ve found that talking about ideas too openly in the beginning sometimes robs them of energy. We will let other companies make abstract promises that sound amazing but rarely come to fruition. We like to build prototypes on the ideas we get (and the ones you give us), then show them off and collect feedback for further tuning. This is a critical part of our conference and yet another reason you should be there!
The CollegeSource staff spent a good deal of time in professional development in 2023. More than half of our employees attended some kind of workshop or developmental course/event. The Services and TES teams engaged with AI at the Amazon Web Services conference. Our Sales team sought out new opportunities for best practices while attending Dreamforce. Our implementation and support specialists went to AACRAO, NISTS, and other shows that not only put them in contact with you but also provided them with opportunities to learn from industry leaders. We believe in training, and it would be hypocritical for us to encourage you to train in using our products without sending our staff to train as well!
We look forward to more of the same in 2024 – more growth, more listening, more training, and more doing! We have big plans. Early in 2024, we will be releasing uAchieve 5.1 and opening up the product for on-prem implementation. Clients with the technical expertise to go it alone will now have access to some of the same great features already in uAchieve Cloud. News about other enhancements and opportunities to be a part of our team will follow in the months to come, so please watch this space!
Thank you all for being on the journey with us. Every road trip story isn’t just about where you went, but about who went with you. When we look at 2023, we don’t just see the successes in a vacuum; we think about the people who made them happen. Many of the faces we see are yours! Let’s go somewhere great in 2024, shall we?
Troy Holaday, Ph.D.