How UC San Diego is using AI [Webinar Recording and Recap]

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Publish Date:
14 Mar, 2024

During our latest webinar, invenioLSI SLcM Solution Architect, Tim McCready was joined by Vince Kellen, CIO for UC San Diego to delve into the future of Student Information Systems. Tim got his start in the higher-education ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) space in 2002 where he worked on the first implementation in the US formerly known as SAP Campus Management and now known as SAP Student Lifecycle Management. Vince brings over a decade of experience as a CIO in higher education, including nearly eight years at UC San Diego, with significant expertise in strategy, analytics, and data.  
Want to watch the webinar yourself? Click the link below!  

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With UC San Diego leading the charge with its Student Activity Hub and SAP SLcM integration, the insights mentioned in the discussion around leveraging AI to streamline the student experience made this webinar a total game-changer. The university has experienced the power of AI with many of its functions just barely scratching the surface of what it can do to help increase efficiency, improve data, and streamline processes.  

UC San Diego’s Technology Landscape

Universities often face challenges like cumbersome paperwork, disorganized data, and manual tasks leading to overloaded staff and a disconnected student experience. Student Lifecycle Management (SLcM) is a comprehensive system that oversees every aspect of a student's academic journey, from enrollment to graduation and beyond. It integrates various administrative functions like admissions, course registration, and alumni relations, aiming to streamline processes, enhance efficiency, and improve the student experience. By centralizing data and taking care of routine tasks automatically, SLcM helps universities really get to know their students, thus giving them the support they need to succeed. Having a SLcM system in place isn’t just helpful for students – it also gives universities valuable insights to make more informed choices.  For more information about SLcM check out our eBook.

Innovation that serves the entire Campus 

UC San Diego is leading the way with its development of Campus Activity Hubs, successfully creating a dynamic gathering place to build meaningful connections within and beyond the campus. The university’s main goal is to encourage people to participate in a cloud environment built on true democratization. 

It has made data accessible to all parties, from administrators to teachers and students, allowing everyone access valuable insights to make better decisions, as well as improve teaching and learning. The solution acts as a chain, linking all activity hubs perfectly with the ability to easily mix and match data to be analyzed. It can even bring together multiple domains in what is referred to as “blended analytics” to gain better insights. The system's flexibility also realizes cost savings through automation making it affordable and possible for educational institutions to run more smoothly.  

Leveraging the right AI strategy   

Unlike many other universities, UC San Diego has chosen to adopt a unique strategy for generative AI with a focus centered on Vertical AI rather than a Horizontal AI approach. 

How UCSD is using AI- Webinar (4)Horizontal AI: General-purpose AI tools applicable across industries, offering broad capabilities without requiring customization for specific sectors. 

  • Not specialized enough for some tasks 
  • Hard to blend with existing systems smoothly 
  • Costs more upfront than specialized options 

Vertical AI: AI tools customized for specific industries, providing solutions tailored to the unique challenges and requirements of each sector. 

  • Specialized for specific tasks 
  • Deep insights into niche areas 
  • Seamless integration with industry systems 

Determining which tasks within an organization are appropriate for AI isn't always straightforward, leading to the concept of a “jagged frontier line.” This is defined as being the fuzzy boundary that separates tasks suitable for artificial intelligence (AI) from those that aren't. It essentially shows the challenge of deciding where AI can effectively be applied. Institutions must first identify where AI fits into their operations, following UC San Diego's suggestion of starting with simpler tasks initially. When an organization directs its AI towards its own content, it becomes proprietary and competitive, as it contains unique university-specific information that sets it apart from others. This distinction is of great importance, thus the focus on Vertical AI. 

UC San Diego’s overarching strategy is to have the AI ingest and analyze the university’s data, leveraging it to provide valuable aid and support. Upon closer examination of the data, the university discovered that it didn't need the full capacity of Big AI but rather, smaller AI proved to be more favorable, with reduced energy and power consumption. UC San Diego’s latest development of The Triton AI platform has been a critical hidden advantage. The system uses smart tech and data analysis to tackle a variety of challenges, from digging into big data to making predictions. Its adaptable design empowers users to tackle tough problems and make a difference in various areas.

 Triton AI Platform for Higher Education

Final Thoughts

Both speakers highlighted the impact that educational institutions nationwide can have on students' academic journeys through strategic planning and using innovative tech wisely. By implementing Student Lifecycle Management (SLcM), focusing on Vertical AI, and developing The Triton AI platform, UC San Diego shows how much they value using technology to enhance student success and streamline operations. These efforts don't just make admin and faculty tasks easier and more efficient—they also provide detailed insights for smarter decision-making, benefiting all aspects of university life.  

Reach us at to learn more. 

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