student engagement

College turns to new intelligence for using data

The new dashboard also allows directors to drill down on the numbers for their particular markets, something that had to be done manually before. If the New York director wanted to check enrollment across his state, for example, he would have had to run a report for each of the eight New York campuses and then collate the statistics. “Now he simply clicks on New York State and the dashboard shows all the campuses individually and the total numbers for the state,” said Grieco. “He can get a very good handle on where he stands.”

For some campus directors, having such easy access to their numbers has become almost like a drug, especially since the data are refreshed every 15 minutes. “I keep getting complaints from campus directors that they can’t stop looking—they’re addicted,” said Grieco. “They love that real-time access, especially when they’re coming close to their goals.”

Understanding the Data

Grieco sees no reason why other schools can’t make a similar leap forward in business intelligence in a comparable timeframe provided IT has a good grasp of its data structure. “You have to know your data, no matter what system it resides in,” he said. “We’ve been creating paper reports for our users for years, so my team knew the data needed to create these dashboards. We didn’t have to scrub any data.”

As much as college administrators like the new dashboard system, the IT staff are equally pleased with how quickly they can produce information in a way that is immediately understandable to their clients. If a director needs a custom report, for example, they can prototype it, get feedback, and then build the application rapidly. “We’re actually able to make it while the director is sitting with us in the room,” said Grieco. “When I survey staff about the new system, they say they love the speed, the agility, and the versatility.”

Next on IT staff’s plate is a student-retention and tracking application to help the college better understand its students and retain them. Meanwhile, responsibility for preparing charts and graphs within the two existing applications has passed to the college’s institutional assessment group. “You don’t have to be functional IT to use and develop in Qlik,” said Grieco. “Basically, it enables more of your organization to aid in the efforts to utilize your data.”

Andrew Barbour is a contributing editor with eCampus News.