What keeps higher ed from realizing the promise of big data? <br> <h3>‘Fear’ as big a barrier as technology, according to new Ovum report</h3>

What keeps higher ed from realizing the promise of big data?

‘Fear’ as big a barrier as technology, according to new Ovum report

By Henry DeVries on Tuesday, May 23, 2017


As part of our effort to help higher education solve the data rich, insight poor dilemma, Ellucian commissioned a report on the latest market trends from leading research group Ovum.

The Ovum view aligns with what I see on campuses every day:

“For many institutions, an impediment to becoming truly data-driven remains organizational culture. When initial data management initiatives have been implemented as little more than a technical "tools drop," with limited attention to culture, context, business processes, and user support, results have been underwhelming.”

While implementing modern, integrated systems and technology is critical to realizing the promise of big data, Ovum stresses a number of barriers that are ultimately about people:

  • Fear of misuse (real or imagined): Each department on campus has made significant investments into producing a stream of data that represents their view of the business. It’s natural to worry that opening the gates and sharing information will lead to misuse or misinterpretation. But with the right governance model, the risks are minimal compared to the rewards.
  • Incentives that reinforce silos rather than the common good: Measures and reports are often set up to reflect departmental rather than institutional objectives. As Ovum states: “Performance measures, recognition, and incentives need to reward the "greater good"—even when that may reduce the performance of an individual business area.
  • Aversion to change: Humans are by nature resistant to change. And as Ovum notes: “Once processes and procedures are in place, all sorts of sensible, rational arguments can be identified to reinforce the status quo.” That’s why institutions need to identify entrenched cultural barriers and—from the top down—demonstrate a firm commitment to openness and integration.

If your goal is to harness big data across the institution to improve student success, I urge you to download this report, “ Finding Insight in an Ocean of Data.” Ovum provides great recommendations for addressing both the technological and human factors involved in becoming an analytics- and insight-driven institution.

Catch up on the series:

If you have additional strategies or experiences to share around building an analytics-driven culture, please leave a Comment below.

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  • On 7/8/2017 03:19:02 PM Geedha Sivanadian said:

    We used a logic to insert data. Use the same logic to read and group the data


About the Author

Henry DeVries

Dr. Henry DeVries

Management Consultant at Ellucian

Henry DeVries serves as management consultant, principal, and leads the business intelligence services in Ellucian’s management consulting group. Dr. DeVries has more than 35 years of experience in higher education as a faculty member, researcher, and administrator.