Business Intelligence In Higher Education

One persons Management information is another’s Business Intelligence (and don’t get me started on Analytics)….

Rown Atkinson

Did I mention that I look after a piece for JISC called Strategy, Agility and Intelligence?

Within that broad church I oversee a piece on BI in HE.

JISC recognised BI for HE as an emerging theme back in late 2009 and commissioned a national survey in April 2010 through JISC InfoNet:

Using this as a basis we moved forward and JISC InfoNet produced a resource to help bring people up to speed, to understand the issues, opportunities and benchmark where they were and would like to be and understand how they might transition from low maturity to higher levels (if this was seen as desirable). While clearly UK centric I’d recommend this resource to you.

We then commissioned 11 projects at 11 UK HEIs to further explore the issues faced, each using the InfoKit but applying it to different HE BI Subject Categories

These report at the end of August 2012, though we are capturing lessons and issues as the projects run. We’ll then redevelop the InfoKit and bundle in the new learning and new materials (case studies with business cases, dashboards for common educational organisation roles / purposes, Impact Assessment, and a short video from each outlining the wins the organisations has seen.

We produced two flyers to help bring people into the fold and I’d suggest taking a quick look at these as they’re great little summaries of where we are with the BI work;

The first encapsulates our learning to date including some project findings and is intended to be reproduced fairly frequently:

It’s the entry level document and at only two pages worth opening and scanning.

The second puts BI into a Business context so is more accessible to managers and decision makers than BI experts. It’s also deliberately concise.

Last week I was back in Birmingham

Olympic Celebration

where I co-ran an event with the 11 BI Project Universities with objectives were:

  • to reflect on the successes of the programme
  • to consider what challenges remain and strategies for dealing with them
  • to consider what the projects and JISC (and others) can do to help continue to progress the BI agenda both within the individual institutions and the sector as a whole
  • My colleague Andy Stewart kindly wrote this up in the JISC Emerging Practices Blog, so no need for me to repeat his excellent work. In summary we identified positives and negatives (what went well, what went less well) and focused in on what still needed to change. We then voted on the latter identifying the most pressing top three concerns. These were:

    1. Develop a Benchmarking Application for the Sector
    2. Communication – how to sell your services to stakeholders, balancing demand, capacity to deliver and required agility
    3. Gathering evidence to support the requirement for BI

    We then undertook an action planning exercise against each covering what, who, how, JISC role, measures of success.

    I’ll be talking to colleagues about the BI work, in particular how we can ‘take our knowledge to market’ (helping UK Universities and Colleges gain advantage from the JISC work, knowledge and expertise). At the moment I very much see this as a new round of the aforementioned JISC emerging practices initiative. We might take the Strategic ICT Toolkit and make reference from that to MI and BI signposting what organisations need to address in order to make the most of them. This is where an EPI might come in and at the event we gave some thought to what a curriculum might look like to address this. We came up with;

    Technology Reviews (for Developers/IT Managers)
    Referrals to contacts and expertise
    A GARTNER style Magic Quandrant
    Influencing from the top down via peer organisations such as UCISA, ARC, UUK and GUILD HE, Mission Groups
    A Diagnostic Tool to assess capabilities and maturity in BI
    Use of the Strategic ICT Toolkit to reference BI
    Managing Change capacity via existing JISC workshops
    The notion of an Analytics Camp – supporting the Educational Analysts
    Enhancing Analytical Literacies in the work force
    Visualising, interpreting BI and understanding what happens next
    Brief introductions to BI technology
    Key roles and pre-requisites of BI

    In addition the BI Projects expressed an appetite to take part in ‘Learning by Doing Together’, or ‘Consultancy for the Sector by the Sector’ – so helping other HEIs get up to speed while forging ahead with new innovation work themselves.

    We’ve also been pondering the next level of innovation for BI in HE and are considering the most mature end of BI (as defined by us!), that of predictive modelling and analytics.

    At the most mature end of the spectrum of BI maturity we might see features along the lines of reliable predictions and modelling

    Seems this has become known as ‘Analytics‘ more recently

    Within that I can imagine we’d see many different pieces to support the various Higher Education Business Intelligence Areas

    JISC have been undertaking a 6 month piece of work to peer into analytics and determine what are the issues, what can be done, what might be possible.

    The piece, called JISC Analytics Recon (as in ‘reconnaissance’) is due out end of August 2012 and will stand alone but we’ll also build in appropriate references to it in the new version of the BI InfoKit. It’s early days but we suspect the ground is rich for interventions by JISC to help the HE sector make the most of analytics. More on this another time.

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