If properly harvested, analytics can help universities leverage this wealth of information to streamline their operations and identify factors that contribute to improving student retention and graduation rates. Yet data integration presents a major technological challenge for universities today as they continue integrating cloud technologies to improve operations, boost student retention, and improve graduation rates.

Once integration is navigated, many universities are finding the value is irreplaceable. The University of California, San Diego is using an analytics platform, Student Activity Hub, to assess student behaviors—ranging from football-game attendance to tutoring-centers usage—and help administrators match university services with the needs of various student groups to improve graduation rates.

For instance, students belonging to the subgroup of those who are the first in their family to attend college could be found to have a correlative relationship between the time they purchase their textbooks and their classroom success. As a result, administrators could then send emails to this subgroup informing them of local textbook deals and reminding them to purchase before a certain date. The sheer value of being able to take a large student population, categorize it into various subgroups, and run this type of analytics on categories to discover insights can mean the difference between students dropping out and graduating on time.

For those who have yet to navigate the initial hurdle of data integration, where should they start?

How and why higher ed must get on board with #DataIntegration #bigdata #cloud #highered

Overcoming data integration starts with culture
Despite having the societal role of preparing future generations to drive innovation, many universities still operate on aged IT infrastructures that served as the norm last century. First and foremost, next-gen technology is an incredible resource to modernize your operations and leverage the value of your many data sources to support student success. With rising competitive pressures, digital transformation can mean the difference between losing and improving institutional reputation.

However, this type of transformation requires university leadership to embrace agility and, despite not being for-profit entities, really think like startups. Campus CIOs, chancellors, deans, and staff must adopt an iterative approach to innovation, open to experimenting with emerging technologies that take advantage of existing assets with the ultimate goal of driving student success. In addition, these executives must mandate the breaking down of data silos and insist all data be a part of the new paradigm.

For those who are just starting on this journey and others who are further along, this is where establishing a trusted ecosystem with strategic partners and technology advocates can help. Valued partners and experts in your institution’s local area are an excellent resource for universities looking to drive this startup culture of innovation, fail fast, and learn quickly. With effective usage of data analytics, a culture that embraces disruption, and a community of trusted partners at their disposal, public universities will be well-suited to navigate the oft-turbulent nature of higher education.

About the Author:

Regina Kunkle is responsible for the state and local/higher education business of SAP. She is dedicated to helping governments and universities transform—using technology and solutions to impact and improve citizens and students lives.

Kunkle’s passion is to encourage young women to be interested in science, technology, education and math (STEM). She has championed events at major universities throughout the U.S. where women students gather to hear professional women speak enthusiastically, candidly, and personally about the wide range of careers in technology. In addition, Kunkle championed the NYC Steps Program, educating women of domestic violence on technology skills so they may improve their situation through technology. She was named a finalist for the 2013 Stevie Awards Women in Business in the “Women Helping Women” category.


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