Learn more about operations, campuses and information technology
The investment in digitalisation that helped INSEAD navigate through the pandemic, continued throughout 2020/2021, despite the financial limitations imposed by the crisis. Indeed, as business picked up again, the demands on technology only increased.
By August 2021, 88% of teaching spaces had been equipped with new audio-visual equipment to meet the ever-increasing need for dual-mode teaching – and the growing expectations of participants for a seamless online-offline experience.
In addition, the four GO-Live rooms, with their banks of faces on screens, were fully operational by March 2021 for live-virtual learning. These assumed a strategic importance in allowing so many Executive Education programmes to continue. In order to keep pace with demand, we equipped six rooms to facilitate online teaching by April 2021.
At the same time, the school continued to implement long-planned IT upgrades and roll-outs. September 2020 saw the launch of iLink, a new peer-to-peer platform for career advice and mentoring. This platform enables alumni and students to connect with other members of the global INSEAD community and maximises the power of our unique network of people.
Towards the end of the academic year, we also launched a new Course Material Clearance platform. Although invisible to end users, this streamlines the process of creating and managing the electronic course packs that all students now rely on.
Other behind-the-scenes improvements included the roll-out of the TimeEdit Building Management System in Singapore. Among many other benefits, this tool enables quick-and-easy room booking right up to the last minute and optimises air conditioning accordingly. All teaching spaces now have QR codes, which enable staff and students to view availability and help Campus Services teams to plan their schedules in real time.
Not only does TimeEdit prevent human error and reduce the need for maintenance checks, it also saves paper and reduces power consumption significantly.
We also launched a new intranet called One INSEAD, designed and managed by the Communications team. This soon became a vital strategic tool for keeping employees in the four corners of the globe connected and informed, especially as the majority continued to work from home during 2020/2021.
Throughout the year, the IT team expanded the use of digital workflows and automation across the school. Among the processes that are now easier, more efficient and more accurate are confirming places on programmes, signing contracts, and paying fees. Finally, one vital innovation on the Europe Campus was the launch of the Green Light app for Degree Programme students, to help manage Covid-19 reporting and contact tracing.
The growth in digital teaching and remote working over the last two years has only increased the need for a reliable and secure infrastructure. In 2020/2021, we upgraded all intra- and intercampus networks with greater stability and higher bandwidth. The vitally important payment platform was also upgraded with better security features and an improved user interface for donors.
With more activities moving online, INSEAD continued to invest in better cybersecurity controls and processes. These include two-factor authentication for all staff and faculty, better protection for all of the school’s public facing sites and greater security for campus networks. There was also a major internal campaign to raise staff awareness on cybersecurity threats, including a simulated phishing attack.
In 2021/2022, we look forward to further engagement with INSEAD staff. One of our priorities is a schoolwide training programme to help our people harness the potential of our digital investments. As we look to a post-pandemic future, we can be sure that the digital transformation will accelerate.
Through weekly on-campus testing on our Europe Campus and reporting of cases at our other locations, we tracked a number of positive Covid-19 cases in our community during the year. Each case was followed by our dedicated contact tracers. This specialist team’s role was to advise people who tested positive on what steps to take and how to keep themselves and others safe, as well as reaching out to all close contacts with detailed instructions.
These actions were in addition to measures taken by the school to keep our community safe at the height of the pandemic, including regular updates from the Crisis Management Team, steps to ensure social distancing, increased ventilation, mask wearing, installing hand sanitiser stations and running multiple safety awareness campaigns. A new team of Safety Ambassadors was also created to help ensure compliance with the various Covid-related regulations and restrictions.
Weekly on-campus testing enabled the site to remain open throughout the year and allowed the programme of “greening” INSEAD operations to continue. The maintenance team worked on a number of projects to reduce consumption of energy and increase efficiency. These included new air treatment units; new metering devices for electricity, gas and water; and a “live energy desk” to monitor consumption.
Towards the end of the academic year, the campus underwent a thorough safety audit from the authorities and was given the go-ahead to reopen and resume in-person teaching from September 2021. Since then, the strict measures specified in the audit have applied, including regular testing and the government-mandated “green pass” entry rule. During the year, the Campus Services team also took the opportunity to improve the learning and working environment, for example, by upgrading the air conditioning.
The on-campus hotel continued operating as a Government Quarantine Facility and a Stay Home Notice Facility. Every day, the team worked around the clock to keep this new area of operations running. Feedback from the year’s 1,129 guests was excellent, especially as we were able to provide meals tailored to ethnic origins and conduct online fitness classes tailored for people confined to their rooms.
At the same time, the Campus Services team continued working towards the INSEAD zero-carbon goal. During the summer of 2021, the campus launched its first successful “green sourcing” tender and signed a contract to purchase 100% renewable energy for two years from September 2021. Ongoing renovations included preparing the roof of the Main Building for the installation of solar panels. In March 2021, we also launched an urban farming initiative with two DIY herb-planting sessions. Further crops, such as bananas and sweet potatoes, have now been planted.
After a frustrating lockdown shortly after its inauguration in February 2020, the San Francisco Hub remained closed to participants throughout the spring. When it finally reopened, there was a joyous welcome for members of the pioneering MIM class. In June 2021, they spent an action-packed week in the city with guest speakers, panel discussions and even a hackathon. Over the summer, faculty members from Singapore and Fontainebleau were also able to spend time at the Hub and participate in alumni events. As the year drew to an end, INSEAD staff in San Francisco were finally looking forward to a full programme of teaching and events in 2021/2022.