Innovation corner: Big Data for colleges large and small

Many colleges and universities are just beginning to understand how to leverage vast amounts of data.

big-data-skillsWhile the definition of Big Data remains in flux among campus technologists, the growing importance of tools that help schools distill mountains of information is an emerging focal point for college IT officials.

Any company or organization that can help a campus — no matter its size — make sense of data and help improve the learning experience will prove more than a little valuable in higher education.

The ways in which data usage and distillation is changing basic college campus operations are numerous and continuing to grow.

From assessing a student’s performance based on previous education and experience to using a “robot advisor” application to analyze student profiles and suggest courses, the ability to leverage data is of real and growing importance to university decision makers throughout the institution.

Higher education institutions in recent years have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in data research and tools. Some universities are putting up this money themselves, while others are relying on government and organization grants.

A recent report by the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that “open data” alone (Big Data that is made freely available to others) would “unlock $3 trillion to $5 trillion in economic value annually across seven sectors.”

Here are a few Big Data companies and services that could help colleges and universities make better use of campus data…

(Next page: Big data solutions)