Solving the data rich, insight poor dilemma

Best practices in analytics and how to get started

The data rich, insight poor dilemma

For so long, higher education institutions were hindered by a lack of data. Now, there are massive quantities of data being collected and shared, but we lack systems and strategies for parlaying that information into greater student and institutional success. In essence, higher education finds itself data rich but insight poor.

The reasons for this predicament range from practical to ethical, technological to cultural. And yet, we have a responsibility to tackle these challenges in order to offer more students better access to higher quality education.

Many institutions are starting down this path—figuring out how to harness the potential of big data while ensuring their data can be trusted and their constituents are using it the right way. As they test and measure these efforts, we see clear best practices emerging.

Download this eBook to get three strategies that are essential to creating an effective analytics function—one that transforms decision making and quality at every level of your institution.

Top 3 strategies for success

  1. Answer “why?” before “what?”

    You can’t build a successful analytics program without first knowing what information you’re trying to learn and, more importantly, the outcome you’ll be able to achieve once you have it.

    In other words, start with the strategic, “Why do I need it?,” before moving to the practical, “How do I build it?” The practical challenges are formidable, and you’ll gain far greater buy-in if the outcomes are clear and compelling.

  2. Set clear rules governing the data

    Across all sectors, widespread concern over data security and individual privacy is one of the most common barriers to entry for analytics. That’s why establishing a governance plan, with input from stakeholders institution-wide, should be an early and ongoing priority.

    This is especially true as more and more data is stored in the cloud. Cloud offers tremendous opportunities to share information and expand insights, but there is a perception that data is less secure. In reality, the cloud offers different rather than bigger risks. The key is to create a modern governance model for a modern campus and, just as important, make the rules transparent to all constituents.

  3. Make data approachable if you want people to use it

    Analytics solutions are only as good as the people who use them. Thus transforming the user experience—making data approachable and relevant to the outcomes each user is trying to achieve—should be one of your top priorities.

    So what defines a modern user experience with analytics? Ultimately, you want every staff and faculty member empowered to answer mission-critical questions. This means taking big data and breaking it down into bite-size pieces—each constituent getting the piece they need to make the specific business decisions they face each day.

    Information should be in a visually compelling format users can interpret, slice in different ways, and configure to meet their needs without waiting on an overloaded IT team. Your IT department should then be able to focus on innovative technologies to move the mission of your institution forward instead of writing code. Removing the bottleneck benefits everyone.

The sooner you move on analytics, the greater your competitive advantage

Institutions that invest in analytics sooner rather than later have a significant opportunity to differentiate themselves in the market. In a 2015 study on the analytics landscape in higher education, Educause found that, while nine out of 10 respondents report some level of institutional interest in analytics, mature programs tied to strategic outcomes are still uncommon. For the most part, data is being used for operational monitoring rather than the proactive or predictive modes of analysis that distinguish analytics from traditional reporting.

Ellucian recently launched a new technology platform, Ellucian Ethos, designed specifically for the data and analytics needs of higher education.

Download this eBook for more on Ellucian Analytics powered by Ethos