Universities: Competing through Business Intelligence and analytics

The global Higher Education market has become fiercely competitive. To succeed, education institutions of all types throughout the world – be they colleges, universities or technical training schools – need to successfully vie for student dollars as well as government and research funding.

Critical questions

To compete for these limited resources, Higher Education institutions need to be able to answer critical business questions, such as:

  • From which locations and demographics are my students coming?
  • Which courses are popular and which are in decline?
  • How many annual enrolments do we require – of a full fee paying, government supported and scholarship nature – to remain profitable and secure desired levels of government funding?
  • Do we have access to the right student, research, performance and departmental data to compile effective research grants?
  • Are we reporting the right information, in the best way possible, to government bodies to boost our comparative rankings, meet compliance requirements and secure desired funding levels?
  • Do our marketing strategies align with student feedback and leverage the integral demographic, psychographic and geographic trends within our student body?
  • Are we building the right infrastructure in the right locations to support student satisfaction, learning, retention and successful graduation?
  • Are our industry partnerships aligned with current student courses to ensure relevancy and boost successful job placement upon graduation?
  • Can university academic and business decision-makers easily analyze operational data, from across faculties and functional areas, to make better decisions in a budget sensitive climate?

Successfully addressing these questions, and delivering effective responses, requires access to timely and accurate student, research and operational data. Fortunately, almost all Higher Education institutions produce large quantities of such information, and realize that leveraging the insights within that data is crucial.

Know your data

An article by the University of New South Wales’ Gigi Foster on http://theconversation.edu.au – Better data key to evidence-based policy in higher ed – outlined the need for Higher Education institutions to more effectively use the data they collect to achieve such goals:

“Universities are sitting on vast quantities of student-level data that have significant potential… [by collating and analyzing this data effectively] They would receive valuable information, including far more detailed benchmarking than is currently available, that they can use in positioning themselves in the market and setting their internal policies”.

Broadly speaking, it seems that IT decision-makers in the education industry are well aware of this challenge. Gartner’s 2013 Top 10 CIO Technology Priorities survey again revealed Business Intelligence (BI) and analytics – software applications and tools used to report, analyze and present data in a range of formats to help organizations identify trends, opportunities and support fundamental decision-making – as the number one priority. Further, the 75 Higher Education CIOs who responded to Gartner’s global 2013 CIO survey reported that their number one technology-related business priority was to “attract and retain new customers”.

More specifically, Gartner surveyed 398 government and Higher Education CIOs from around the world during the final quarter of 2012. Again, BI and analytics was revealed as the top technology priority. Backing these findings, Education Drive’s 2013 Mobility in Higher Education CIO survey also found BI to be a top technology priority for university CIOs.

Turning data and awareness into insights and action

However, making this information easily accessible and sharable – to improve the quality of critical strategic and operational decisions on factors that directly impact organization performance, such as enrolment, student performance, government reporting and research grant submission – is difficult.

IBM’s The Essential CIO: Insights From the Global CIO Study revealed that “83 percent of CIOs have visionary plans that include business intelligence and analytics”.

But, three major concerns accompanied that ambition:

  • How to leverage the data
  • How to integrate the data to create a single trustworthy information source (across applications and devices)
  • How to access the data (especially from mobile devices)

This situation could not be truer for Higher Education institutions – organizations employing a large number of differently skilled people and collecting vast quantities of highly varied data, which often reside in numerous disparate systems.

So, how can Higher Education institutions overcome these concerns and leverage their vast data stores to answer critical student, funding and operational questions?

A case in point: Macquarie University and University of Konstanz

By successfully deploying an enterprise-ready BI solution, Macquarie and Konstanz universities have been able to:

  • Eliminate knowledge silos and improve interdisciplinary cooperation between departments and faculties
  • Analyze, share, discuss and take data-based action through a single trustworthy source of organizational information
  • Make data analysis accessible to academic and business decision-makers anywhere, anytime on any device

Through the strategic use information, Macquarie and Konstanz universities have been able to drive crucial data-based outcomes, including:

  • Improving the quality of external reporting to government, research, funding and ranking bodies to boost institutional performance, ratings, revenue and better manage costs
  • Underpinning strategic planning to improve the quality of teaching, student services, marketing efforts to boost student acquisition, as well as increasing operational efficiencies and optimizing finances
  • Attracting better students and improving academic performance

In an era of streamlined budgets and greater competition for student dollars, Macquarie and Konstanz universities have obtained a significant advantage over other Higher Education providers through the strategic use of their student, operational and research data.

Find out more about Macquarie University’s BI implementation >

Find out more about the University of Konstanz’s BI program >

Yellowfin Business Intelligence

Do you collect critical student, operational and research data, but find it hard to leverage? Do you want to unlock the power of your diverse, disparate data assets and empower decision-makers throughout your university to make better decisions?

Yellowfin is a global BI vendor utilized by a range of educational institutions worldwide. We understand that the reporting environments of education providers are complex.

Everyday you’re capturing and attempting to leverage an enormous range of data types – relating to operational, financial, student, employee, research, funding and rankings performance – captured across many faculties and departments.

“The Higher Education market is becoming increasingly competitive, furthering the need to understand and act on your data assets to actively recruit the best students, attract more funding and stretch budgets – all while improving and marketing academic offerings, student services and facilities,” said Yellowfin COO, Justin Hewitt. “We know that providing academic and business decision-makers with accurate, up-to-date and independent access to that critical data is paramount to your competitiveness.”

By making data easily accessible and sharable, Yellowfin’s BI platform enables you to quickly improve decision-making that directly impacts the success of your strategic planning and development. We understand your needs as a Higher Education provider, and can deliver you the technology, expertise and support you need to achieve your data goals.

Find out more

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