A Case Study: University of Konstanz generates new insight with self-service BI

Summary

University of Konstanz seeks to deliver competitive advantage through the strategic use of its data, empowering decision-makers from across the university to:

  • Improve interdisciplinary cooperation between departments and faculties, the quality of teaching and student services, whilst managing budgets in a fiscally sensitive climate
  • Compile the most efficient and effective statutory government reports and research grant submissions possible
  • Improve the quality and timeliness of data reported to funding and rankings bodies

“The most outstanding feature of Yellowfin is its usability for report consumers, as well as for report developers – especially when compared to other BI vendors.”

– Dr. Marc H. Scholl, Chief Information Officer, University of Konstanz


Company

The University of Konstanz (UOK) was founded in 1966 as a reform university, with the main campus on the Gießberg opening in 1972.

The university has over 11,000 students from almost 100 countries, with over 220 partnerships with many prestigious international universities, including Yale University, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Zurich.

UOK is one of the 11 universities whose Institutional Strategies are being funded by the German Federal and State Governments to expand university top-level research.

Challenge

UOK knew it had a vast amount of potentially valuable data. But, it was siloed across faculties and departments.

UOK wanted to unlock the power of its data by combing its disparate data stores and enabling all university decision-makers to independently access and analyze its data, via a single trustworthy source, to underpin strategic planning and development.

UOK also wanted to reduce the resource intensive demands of a paper and excel based reporting workflow, in the face of increasing internal and external demands for data and reports.

To support this endeavor, UOK embarked on a multi-stage Business Intelligence (BI) evaluation process, hunting for a BI solution that offered:

  • Role-based data access to ensure information security
  • A user-friendly frontend to support independent report building – without the need to understand SQL
  • A range of intuitive visualizations to support independent information analysis and action
  • Access to BI content outside the BI tool, via the ability to embed reports and dashboards in thirdparty Web-based platforms
  • Access to BI content via any mobile device

Solution

Yellowfin’s intuitive BI solution has enabled a broad range of academic and business decision-makers to access and independently analyze a single reliable source of data – anywhere, anytime from any device.  Stakeholders with access to selfservice data analysis include the university rector and chancellor, executive board members, department heads, faculty deans, administrative staff, academics and scientists.

Decision-makers at the UOK can now access timely, in-depth information from across university faculties, departments and units.  Data types available for reporting including operational, financial, student, human resources, teaching & studies, young academics, internationalization, equalization, research and comparative rankings records.

“Yellowfin has enabled the university to replace an email, excel and paperbased system of data exchange and report generation with a userfriendly Web-based system,” said UOK Project Coordinator, Sebastian Vogt. “With Yellowfin, we can decentralize information workflow, enabling as many end-users from across the university as possible to independently access, understand and act on up-to-date and accurate information – whenever and wherever needed.”

UOK’s analytics team is also able to respond to the changing data demands of end-users throughout the university with agility, by quickly creating or editing custom reports and dashboards.

“Yellowfin connects to our different data sources, gives us the opportunity to quickly design views, as well as customized reports and dashboards, in a flexible and userfriendly way,” said Vogt.

Yellowfin is connected to UOK’s central authentication server (LDAP), and was deployed on top of existing PostgreSQL and HSQL databases.

“Yellowfin’s compatibility with our existing IT architecture and databases has made the transition to our first ‘real’ BI solution easy,” said Vogt.

Results

By making so many important data types available for reporting – combined with enabling such widespread access to self-service analytics – UOK has been able to meet internal and external demand for reporting and analytics more effectively and efficiently, with fewer resources.

“Yellowfin combines a very sophisticated IT architecture with highly intuitive visualizations to break-down departmentalized information stores and make widespread independent data analysis a reality,” said UOK Chief Information Officer, Prof. Dr. Marc H. Scholl.

In parallel, Yellowfin has made many more data use cases possible, from controlling research performance to monitoring staff development and structure.

Yellowfin has also enabled UOK to:

  • Improve cross-departmental cooperation
  • Improve data quality – and therefore the quality of decisions – by making data across university faculties, departments and units transparently available in a single source
  • Compile the most efficient and effective statutory government reports and research grant submissions possible
  • Improve the quality and timeliness of data reported to funding and rankings bodies, such as the German government’s German Universities Excellence Initiative and the annual Time Higher Education World University Rankings report
  • Improve the quality of teaching and student services, whilst managing budgets in a fiscally sensitive climate

“Higher Education is becoming increasingly competitive, furthering the need to actively recruit the best students, attract more funding and stretch budgets,” said Senior Business Manager for the Executive Department of Strategy and Controlling at UOK, Michaela Potthast. “Yellowfin is helping the UOK achieve an important competitive edge, enabling it to understand and meet those demands more efficiently and effectively, and improve the quality and timeliness of data reported internally, as well as to funding and rankings bodies.”

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