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HESPA Conference 2020 – Day 2 PM

This is the final of four live blog posts by me over the last 24 hours covering this excellent event.

Afternoon Commercial session – Studyportals

These folks have been mind enough to work with Jisc at a data level twice. Most recently we agreed a data sharing agreement to use their data in a rapid prototyping exercise for our Analytics Labs service with a corss institutional team being coached in data product development using Internationalisation as a theme.

Studyportals is a platform where students can compare courses from 3500 universities with 37 million unique visitors each year. Students are tracked, income has moved from cost per click to cost per enrollment. Gives a measure of interest and conversion for course providers. plus evidence to assist with the below strategic decisions


Most universities are very bad at launching the right programmes and closing unprofitable programmes based on evidence.

What are we offering? What should we be offering?

Students in Shanghai 52% interest in engineering vs 26% in Mumbai…. That sort of thing…..
Where are the students coming from now? Where might they come from in the future?

The system generates its own data dictionary based on supply and demand eg emergence of data science as a disciplins as well as showing indication of demand vs supply to allow smart marketing as well as course offer management. Rather cool and I can see why this tools is so valued.

Here’s a drill down into UAE Masters



Gives a feeling for global market by discipline.

Final Plenary – Data HE and Mark Corver, WonkHE, Anita Jackson (ex Jisc Analytics Labs participant). The future shape of Higher Education and its implications for planning

The conference has had some great coverage of future gazing and this is our final bite. I met Mark briefly when he worked at UCAS and gather his consultancy is going strong, using HESA and institutional data to predict student demand among other great things. Must be if he bagged this Keynote session at such an influential event!

Mark kicked off with a birth rate analysis mapped to university recruitment and leading to the conclusion others at the conference have drawn – we are approaching a boom in 18 year olds. But adds a dimension of likely to aply for HE. So extrapolation models base don UCAS data.


The 50% figure is said to be reliable.

Increased population and increased demand to go to university suggest 60% increase in HE demand by 2030….


This one shows divergence in market coinciding with lifting of student number cap

corver conergence

The trends Mark provides suggest a massive opportunity for Higher Education in the decade going forward but funding models will be challenging!

Another interesting vis frm Mark was a grouping of individual universities with similar sized corporate organisations. These are peers in a business functional sense so could be a good source for organisational practice.

The suggestion here is that by running an analytical model of your university you create a neutral trajectory, something that every proposal for change should be run against to determine likely impact. This leads to execution of strategy through data… objectives are converted to targeted effort by analysis. Data brand is managed and you have a preventative effect on bad policy. Stops bad things happening even if the intentions are good.


Three suggestions for success:

1. Capability gap – universities do this well but miss the middle part – data science (it’s not new or expensive but it is code based)
2. Platform problem – you need something to write code in and hold analytics data (don’t spend much, limit software systems to one, look at industry not just academics)
3. The data barrier – ddata is the key raw material, you’ll need lots, some data is better then ever eg geographical, the hE data system for old worls (HESA, UCAS) have created data themes which work well in the old world but present a barrier of cost, access and efficiency.

Mark suggests a University led redesign to address this ‘data barrier’


A round of applause for Mark Cover and Data HE and the conference ends in an expert panel discussing the implications. Thanks HESPA. OIt’s always a pleasure and I hope to work with you all in the coming months…..

HESPA Conference 2020 Day 2 AM

Plenary 3: Proper Strategic Planning: Joining the dots between data and decisions
PLenary 3

A high powered panel with Ash (HESPA Chair) in the Chair. Some nice anecdotes about planning team individuals working hard and often out of hours to fulfill immediate requests from VCs often along the lines of ‘what is our position’ on breaking current affairs.

Q. What does Planning do?
A. Often Estates and capital build, less frequently data, even lesser what we actually do – data underpinned evidence for decision making and strategy formulation.

The role of planning is widely misunderstood and should be addressed. Interesting I think that yesterdays plenary highlighted the role of the University itself being misunderstood and a call bring into the fold the our local communities with few of the public realising Universities do research or having never visited a University. Purdue showed us some nice public facing visualisations demonstrating breadth of activity and value.

Anecdotes about breaking the news of league table positions, NSS and presenting an analysis of the data empowering people to own the aspiration to be ‘in the top 10’ rather than a specific target / definition allowing achievement and celebration and, I guess, marketing messages. Which is a thorny issue for one of the league tables I have worked with.

The importance as a Planning Director of ‘taking the team with you’ as they will be future Directors. Ash himself is a great example of this. I chatted with his manager from a previous early career role last night attending the conference as a delegate and a presenter who was most proud of his achievements now acting as Chair of HESPA. Laura is on the panel and has worked with my team and I for some years having put her entire team through the Jisc Analytics Labs CPD offer. She highlights the importance of encouraging team members to develop and monitor their on set of KPIs as a useful exercise in empowerment and understanding.

If strategy is clear it is possible to pick the three or four most important and achievable issues. In the case of Dundee they were able to come to a collective agreement that tariff was one of these and the three most important were understood by the widest possible stakeholders. We heard yesterday from a consultancy firm who worked for 6 weeks on data governance at Aberdeen University. Their approach led to a simple matrix applied to issues of importance v achievabilty, the top right quadrant delivered exactly this.

Shorter and shorter papers that tell people more is an ongoing pressure. So highlighting the reliance on interpretation of data to decision making evidence and presumably recommendation – these latter stages seem to be least suitable to automation and require most labour intensive activity, higher skills, stuff better suited to humans than automation. SO can we automate more to free high level staff skills up to do more of this? At Jisc we are trying to do just that. We have done the heavy lift in dashboard design, development and maintenance for staff insights with a NEW PRODUCT AVAILABLE THAT WILL SAVE AND MAKE MONEY AND FREE UP HIGH LEVEL STAFF SKILLS TO DO MORE VALUABLE STUFF.

What has struck me in attending this conference is a total lack of any consideration of technology and technique disruption / opportunity. What tools and techniques are coming next for the Planning community? What’s going to hit us in the short and medium term? Come on Planners – Let’s be a bit more bold – what might we strive for here that could make a big difference? At Jisc we are kicking around the idea of a new version of our Analytics Labs unique training for development or data underpinned products for decision making. What can we do to predict? What about Prescriptive Analytics? Will we put some new emphasis on the modelling opportunities offered by Python and R? What do we need to address the ethics of experimenting on this type of data? What can we do in the area of Synthetic data? Jisc would be very happy to have those conversations with the HESPA Executive.

Workshop 9 – Planning for the unknown – the what, the when and the how
This one is group work and participation but I’ll blog what I can. Here ar esome smashing slides about PESTLE (noT here) influencers and disrupters facing Higher Education. The group work was to determine whether the below are risks or opportunities (check out the 5 – 20 years – seriously do we plan that far in advance?! Regardless, they are nice ‘current’ issues….


Horizon 2

HOrizon 3

HESPA Conference 2020 – Day 1 PM

Workshop 4 – The Analytics Translator: Reflections on this role in the UK HE context by Manchester Metropolitan University

The analytics translator came from a Harvard business review article. MMU have applied it to the ir planing unit. It bridges the gap between data scientist and business leaders, designed to ensure that insights are generated in an appropriate form. shared with stakeholders and applied to enhance key business areas. So that makes perfect sense. These folks support the faculty of Business and Law.


Here’s the process.

Translator process

This approach is really labour intensive so a great example of resource deployment at institutional level. At national level at Jisc we can help with the heavy lift through those complementary services:

1. Analytics labs – unique continuing professional development (CPD) experience available to data-savvy staff in education
2. Data consultancy – A bespoke consultancy service to support you in using HESA data to answer your key questions.
3. Tailored data sets – Custom HESA data and reports built to your exact requirements. We’ll work with you to design them so you get exactly what you need.
4. Interactive Insights dashboard development for service delivery – NEW! Here’s the first of these – a full suite of 17 dashboards supporting a specific theme, in this case the workforce explorer

Business sessions – ALTIS – How to get senior leadership alignment around data and analytics via a strategy and roadmap engagement.

This is a commercial outfit with experience in data road map development for Higher Education Institutions. They have a recipe they follow with key senior management stakeholders. A show of hands at the start demonstrated a 50/50 split of low maturity in this area, high maturity, but only a handful claimed a shared and mature vision about data strategy at senior management team. These guys are vendor independent.


Once these areas were identified a benefit / feasibility matrix provided the low hanging fruit (high benefit / high feasibility quadrant ensuring the project gained maximum visibility quickly with benefits realised.

Here’s the roadmap agreed upon by the Aberdeen University project team


The entire piece took 6 weeks so very labour intensive, though the client (Aberdeen University) felt this was super quick. It provided compelling evidence for a business case and got the organisaiton ready for the next phase of implementation. The workforce became more enthusiastic about data as they acquired the benefits. The whole process was one of facilitation and knowledge transfer so Altis gradually withdrew as Aberdeen increased capability and capacity.

Final Plenary – Data Governance in US Higher Education – Aaron Waltz Purdue University
I worked with Aaron and Hank Childers from the US Higher Education Data Warehousing Forum on a national Business Intelligence Maturity study some years ago and last met them at the Educause Conference I was co-Chair at in 2015.

So that was nice….

Aaron poses the question – why data governance – what’s that about then? He uses the example of staff count and how difficult that is to answer. HEDW has 4000 members and data givernance has been the top issue for the last four years. So that mirrors the CK UCISA CISG survey. Here’s the US survey result. The UK survey was very similar across 50 responding Universities.


Chief Data Officer as a role is gaining traction in the US. Aaron went n to discuss the Data Governance programme under their Chief Data Officer at Purdue. Common data definitions (Data Dictionaries in the UK) and improving data quality were key tenets. The initiative has no end and recognises that it cannot achieve without buy in from all staff so is top down and bottom up. Data Cookbook was used for the data definitions as it’s designed for Higher Ed use. and with a sense of superb timing I just got spammed by them. They used to give away data spatulas as part of their conference swag but I can vouch that they melted if used in earnest but from this talk I can vouch that the product itself is much more robust!

Purdue have public facing dashboards showing relevant performance to their immediate community. They also have management information dashboards. Here’s a shot of some of those


Look familiar?

Aaron suggest asking ‘are we ready for a long uphill climb?’. Data governance is a means to an end. The end should be what are the questions our leaders need to answer, nit just standardising definitions. Don;t try to define everything, just pick some quick wins. It’s a long haul.

HESPA Conference 2020 – Day 1 AM

It’s 2020 and I’m dusting away the cobwebs from this site and attempting to live blog the HESPA 2020 conference. I’ve joined the Data and Analytics Directorate at Jisc where we are mid-restructure with a proposal to divide things up broadly into Product Development, Product Delivery, Data engineering and organisational support functions. All very exciting and with a far stronger focus on the development and delivery of data derived products and services for the education sector. We’ll be sure to make a big splash about that once we’re operational, but for now, I’m here in Birmingham surrounded by the hugely well respected Planning Community. I’m looking for intelligence on pain points and opportunities, new ideas for products and services and hope to meet experts who might want to co-design solutions for the education sector. We’ve got a strong track record in Agile development and we want to apply this to rapidly deliver benefits to our stakeholders.

Welcome and introduction – Professor Sir David Eastwood
A great romp through student and research funding trends, recent high impact national policies and initiatives (such as TRAC, the demise of HEFCE, HERA, internationalisation and cross subsidising into research from overseas countries) and a tongue in cheek dig the Data Futures Programme.
What do Vice Chancellors want / need from their Planners?
Universities are strong on data, weak on management information. Planners have a really important role in assisting Vice Chancellors in

  • Robust and meaningful data
  • Compliance
  • |The ability to evaluate reports
  • Policy and political sophistication
  • Early warning
  • A presence in the VC office
  • For both scale and capability.

    We must be much more strategic and better understand where every pound goes in our Research, striving for excellence.

    The cost of all this (according to UEA) could be an extra 300K for an HEI. Cost benefits of enhancing the planning function will differ across Universities. Stripping out duplication eg in Benchmarking could drive down costs and there are other structural opportunities to reduce costs. Good investment in good planning and good data should exceed the investment of 300K.

    QR remains important and is something Jisc might explore with partners on behalf of the sector.

    Balancing online and physical delivery in light of space constraints is a key opportunity and is difficult to get right. High quality provision and service is expected from students so partnerships for delivery is seen as an opportunity for platform and content. Distance learning must be properly costed and built into the appropriate strategies including income generation and profit and loss.

    Plenary 1.1 – University Governance then and now – Nick Hillman (HEPI), Bee Morgan (Lancaster University SU), John Rushforth (Committee of University Chairs), Helen Thorne (UCAS)
    Introduction from the HEPI Chair
    The last 5 years have been the busiest every for Higher education policy and political (7 ministers in 6 years with a cabinet reshuffle imminent)

    Student numbers – high demand but new caps?
    Augar and fees – not dead yet
    Research funding – more money but spent how? Effect of Brexit
    Internationalisation – better rules but what? Risk of Home office treating immigration purely as a risk
    Quality / value – how do we answer reasonable questions?

    Indication of measures in use – but are they all rubbish? So which should we be using? What role and effectiveness of QAA?

    So what about governance? HEPI have a publication on this comparing other approaches but falling short of recommendations.

    There was a cracking presentation from Bee about the =role of student union in university governance. At Jisc we have a strong track record in student involvement in innovation and am sure will continue to do so.

    John Rushforth
    1. Sustainability
    Beyond just the balance sheet, into Green (Jisc used to host the Green Gown awards for IT with UCISA), recruitment (Jisc has just launched its Workforce Explorer dashboard suite – Planners would do well to take a look at this as it will remove effort duplication and is priced incredibly competitively), disruption of PESTLE stuff to the operating model of our Universities
    2. Reputation
    Easily damaged but what exactly is it? Performance and assurance to Vice Chancellors that their university is performing optimally (clearly a role here for those dashboard suites and broader products and services Jisc Data Analytics directorate are developing. Risks such as failure of a trusted partner, institutions failing students through for example BAME attainment gap, local communities, poor educational choices (Jisc are key partners in the Career Explorer initiative that successfully shared data across UCAS, HECSU and HESA) prototyping insights to assist in educational pathway and career choices). Behaviour and culture of the organisation and the role of governance
    3. Governing body itself
    Role has been one of accountability receiving reports and asking questions. This needs to broaden. Tap into the wealth of talent of the Board. It can act as a link to other ideas and suggestions that we haven;t capitalised on in the past. The change in academic nature of the institution. Development and support for the governing team (Jisc runs a future leaders programme)

    Helen Thorne (UCAS)
    Speaking as independent governor at University of Northumberland and school governor.
    Three impoartant thinhs
    1. Diversity in all its forms is more important than ever in governance so background, skills, experience, age. Knowledge of disruption, international voices etc
    2. Training and ongoing support for governors
    3. Transparency and engagement

    Plenary 1.2 Forward thinking for 2020 and beyond Diana Beech, Head of Government affairs, University of Warwick
    Previous policy adviser to four Universities Ministers in just two years. This meant no substantial changes although the OfS took its full regulatory powers in 1 August 2019 under the HERA 2017.
    Ministerial steers
    1. Damian Hinds – focus on quality
    2. Sam Gyimah – focus on students
    3. Chris Skidmore – Focus on A&P
    4. Jo Johnson – safeguarding the sector / international focus
    5. Chris Skidmore – focus on science and R&D



    Ideas about new policies….
    1. More on quality
    2. Stronger focus on place / region
    3. Internationalisation
    4. Push for more on R&D

    How should the sector react?
    Make the most of Brexit certainty
    Prepare our wish lists (budgets / Comprehensive Spending Review
    Strengthen regional relationships – role here for Jisc perhaps?
    Show a united front as a sector
    Demonstrate different types of (cultural, social, economic) value
    Make visible improvements (grade inflation and unconditional offers)
    Work with government agenda – they are here for 5 maybe even 10 years
    Reconnect with the public (biggest challenge – a big them and us divide eg Brexit views, 70% of people did not know Universities do research, 50% of public have never set foot in a university)

    We are sitting on a 18 year old population boom (England only)


    So PLAN FOR GROWTH! Infrastructure, digital and HE workforce pipeline

    Accelerated degrees and apprenticeships may become more important.

Data, Heidi Lab and the new Jisc co-design challenges

The Heidi Lab initiative has run three cycles of agile analysis. Eighty highly data literate staff from 52 UK universities have taken part over the three cycles during the last year. The teams worked to determine widely applicable issues for resolution through data derived insights. Next they identified likely data sources for exploration. We added the data to our secure data processing environment and teams used different tools (mainly Tableau and Alteryx) to cleanse, link and explore the data producing interactive dashboards with a view to HESA and Jisc making the best available through the Heidi Plus dashboard delivery service. The initiative is proving to be hugely successful and we just announced release of the first suite of dashboards. We’re also recruiting new team members for January and April.

Jisc has just announced it’s co-design challenges and is actively consulting. They’re all interesting, but the one that caught my eye is titled ‘How can we use data to improve teaching and learning?

The Heidi Lab dashboard releases above include the ‘Destinations of Leavers in Higher Education (DLHE) Explorer’ and the
‘Multi-DLHE’. These provide ways of looking at the destinations data from the perspective of one institution compared with another. They offer a broad exploration of where students end up, looking at whether students have continued onto graduate study, found a job, gone onto study elsewhere or became unemployed. The team responsible for those tried mashing in NOMIS ((National Official Labour Market Statistics) data.


The combination of DLHE data and data from NOMIS makes it possible to see the relative trends between HE leavers and statistics about the workforce at a national level or regional level; by industry and by year. This is a great benchmarking tool for institutions, in combination with the previous dashboards, offering insights into their own leaver’s destinations and how they fit with National higher education and wider National employment picture. That’s a step towards insights to help us make a better Higher Education Curriculum in terms of employability.

What other data might we add to contribute to that co-design challenge? What other insights would help us improve the Higher Education curriculum?

Higher Education Strategic Planners Conference Feb 2016

Feb 2016 sees me back at my third HESPA conference. I wasn’t going to do a live blog this year. I decided to Tweet a few of my conference highlights (hey – is easier and less long winded). You can pick up the entire stream by searching #HESPA16.

But as often happens, colleagues asked me for an email summary and it seems such a shame to go to the effort of collating that and not publish for others to view. So it’s a mercifully short blog this year from me!

We’re back to Loughborough – I studied my Masters degree here back in 96 and had a 10 year career at the University so it’s hello to an old friend from me.


The first of these HESPA conferences I came to was as a guest, to get a feel for the community, issues and opportunities. At the second I spoke with HESA and Jisc colleagues to put across a vision for a shared national business intelligence service for UK Higher Education. Feb 2016 and I’m back with Giles Carden and Jackie Njoroge (HESPA Exec project co-designers), Jonathan Waller (HESA Director of data and analysis) outlining the Heidi Plus service (launched Nov 15) available to all 180 publicly funded Higher Education providers, related organisations and departments. While I spoke with Gary Tindell (UEL) and Richard Elliot (Northumberland Uni) about Heidi Lab – a Jisc led initiative attempting to provide insights into Higher Ed business problems through; 9 teams of 50 planners from 40 universities, a secure technical environment for data processing, an emerging data catalogue describing the data sources used, how to link them and what insights are available and the 24 Feb showcase event where HESA, Jisc and HESPA will begin to shortlist outputs (dashboards) for service production (via Heidi Plus or Jisc beta service.

And no one fell asleep!


Some nice feedback here from an attendee; Hi Myles, hopefully catch you later but just wanted to say how great it was to see Gary and Richard talking so passionately about Heidi Lab. It was my first time hearing the direct feedback from the participants and it gave me a real insight into what can be achieved – its no longer just theoretical. You’ve all done a great job :o)

Heidi Plus and Heidi Lab poster

Heidi Plus and Heidi Lab poster


HESPA graphic recordings



Victoria Lowry Head of policy NUS; What metrics are meaningful to students when choosing Universities
Other delegates discussed withdrawal of careers service provision in schools and emerging chasm – we have begun to address some of this in Heidi Lab and could link to related work such as

HESPA are developing a CPD offer (seeking accreditation) which may match up with Jisc digital capability / leadership in summer 16 along with a handbook – we might collaborate to this Higher education strategy and planning – a practical guide

Chris Hale of UUK stepped in for David Willetts and mentioned our Jisc and HESA Heidi Plus and Heidi Lab work as examples of good stuff going on to address the data in HE issues planners and the sector are facing.


A common thread this year was the need for openness, transparency, new data driven services and tensions of collection burden, legal requirements and importantly alignment with institutional requirements. What’s in it for us? The promised benefits must be addressed early in order that we drive the changes such issues seem to require.

Last session of the day was Paul Clarke (CEO HESA) talking up the need for data exploitation, marketisation, public trust and confidence. Helping the University sector to play a far wider role in society than it has. All building up to the HESA data futures programme (results of the public consultation here Barriers – Victorian plumbing; lack of integration of data, inefficiency in data collection, processing and dissemination, duplicated data, variable data quality. Enter the HESA Data Futures Programme. 117 responses, 64% rate, 91.4% supportive of overall direction of travel. Two responses were negative, so I had dinner with 0.8% of responds last night!
Paul mentioned co-design with stakeholders but no methodology – code sign is something we at Jisc have been kicking around and refining for a couple of years now. Also mentioned vendor negotiation. Again, something Jisc has been kicking around, most recently last week with our Learning analytics service development. We’re aware of overlap; I joined Paul Clarke (CEO HESA), Paul Feldman (CEO Jisc), John de Pury (UUK assistant director of policy) and other colleagues a fortnight ago to discuss new collaborative opportunities to help align our capacity for the data driven benefit of the sector. Other aspects that are not part of the DF programme but are supportive of it;

More integrated data, more efficient data flows (more APIs, fewer bulk transfers), streamlined data specifications, agreed canonical sources of core information, more flexibility in data returns, less resource intensive, systems and processes designed around users.

Al HESA data is cloud stored so a turn around there and an aim to make all HESA data open and publicly available from their web site (though presumably not were DPA bound!)

Who could argue with that – interested to see what audience response we see….

Qualitative data required as well as quantitative – Yes HESA recognise importance, but while important data is not the only contributor.

So another excellent HESPA conference. Some brilliant talks, conversations, nice venue, good food and a great bunch of people – the UK HE planning community to be working with!

December 2015 BI Connect Event

4 December and I’m attending a business intelligence event at Rolls Royce, Derby


I’ve taken the opportunity to step outside of academia to learn from the commercial sector about how they are developing and benefiting from business intelligence and analytics organised by @biconnect #biconnect

Programme and overview agenda
First up; BI on a budget, Alec Anderson, www.koolmill.acom

Koolmill manufacture machinery for cereal crop industry aiming to delver more food at a higher quality reducing environmental impact and reducing processing losses. They are a disruptive technology – small turnover at the moment. Reports a global aim to increase rice production by 75% by 2030.
So on with the BI – how do Koolmill interact with their customers?
‘the data outside the business is more valuable than the data inside the business’. But what data is appropriate for your needs – is there value in purchasing data? Generally payment upfront is required before an answer to this can be achieved. One wanders whether there’s an opportunity for ‘try before you buy’. At Jisc we’ve developed a controlled environment for data and analytics R&D and have secured our first data sharing agreement to allow just that.
Koolmill harvest trending data related to their business from internet searches and target influential individuals via Twitter to highlight how their products can help achieve wide felt goals. Intelligent customer interaction by social media analytics – analyse what they are trying to achieve, undertake targeted and individual marketing. This is a very manual process relying heavily on the presenter.

Roy Haworth, Head of engineering and software development, Airbus
Airbus launched a satellite yesterday heading for the zero gravity point above the planet to prove an Einstein theory – by deploying a piece of gold and monitoring expo cited lack of movement at this point Einstein will be proved (if not then assume the mission has made a mistake and that Einstein is still right!)
Airbus also built the satellite that deployed the Rosetta comet lander. Airbus are not high volume, 3 satellites is a big deal. The business sis all about deploying cutting edge technology.
So on with the BI – how do Airbus interact with their customers?
Started with focusing the question – what does value mean to the customer? Came up with a customer value cycle; obtain feedback, analyse the needs and commitment to change, implement the changes, measure the improvements. Note that Airbus have around 100 customers worldwide with a turnover of billions. So are far from typical. Feedback was gathered F2F. KPIs apportioned and scored. Customer confidence vs Mean importance to customer plot showed the order of KPI importance to customers (highest was quality – nothing goes wrong for 15 years) but momentum (direction of travel) indicated direction of travel (where confidence was getting worse) allowing prioritisation for change and resulting actions.

Andy Birtwistle, supply chain manager, Concentra
Kicked off by highlighting where BI has come from (what happened, why did it happen) and where it’s going (where are we headed) – predictive analytics and ‘prescriptive analytics’ (integrated demand sensing???)
Is analytics appearing in the real world? 81% agree that data should be at the heart of decision making but only 31% have restructured to do this. People mix up BI KPI reporting with predictive analytics integrated with decision making.


Andy described supply chain decision making integrated with predictive analytics. Clever use of analytics to show people their impact on the supply chain – example given of incentivising sales team inflated prediction on sales resulting in manufacturing over production and excessive stock storage. Andy showed visualisations to explain this behaviour. Helps people to see what policies are needed to produce efficiency in the supply chain. The importance of matching visualisation design to end user was highlighted – high level briefings for senior managers so give them high level dashboards. Interestingly accessing accurate data was not seen as a problem, audience anecdote did not concur. Much discussion about end users screwing with data for their own purposes / to look good.

Steve Whittle, Head of BI, Rolls Royce – BI past, present, future
RR – 54K staff, 72Bn back orders, civil, defence, marine, power, nuclear. Aiming to take 6 million people through STEM.
Interesting PPT with overview of BI past (KPI driven historical), present (introduces ghost Bi – end users using their own tools vs being active co-designers of corporate service), much about vendor promises and upgrade paths, single source of truth. Interesting mapping to our BI maturity model (webinar here), recent changes – transaction or transaction meta data; the information surrounding the transactions has more worth than the transactions themselves. Also a nod to apps and mobile for wider access.

Allan Behrens, MD, Taxal Ltd The greater Internet of things (IoT)
Talk about practical solutions of immediate value through connected products and systems via (open) interoperability standards. Two examples given – the Amazon Dash (device that re-orders washing powder when running low), an automated lawn sprinkler system.The aim is to create a better customer experience. Open standards are key to development. Dyson hand dryer – add an LCD screen, connect it to an advert server, provide the hardware free, profit comes from advertising revenue. Bottom line message – the barrier to entry is low see th manufacturers thought leadership network – a talking shop toward products as services.

Anthony Batts, IT manager, Tata Steel Using BI and Big Data
No Big data in this one, rather it was a dance through a BI implementation including a BICC – BI Competency Centre. Key lessons here were around user inclusion on service design. These are both features we identified in highly mature BI implementations. See the 9 dimensions and 5 levels from our BI maturity model The hope is to make Tata a data management organisation – so data governance and processes to sort out that old thorny issue of data management. Our UK and US survey of Universities with reported low maturity on the data management dimension. Seems this is mirrored in the commercial sector. Antony recommended the data management body of knowledge

Duncan MacMillan, IT Director, Berendsen Internet of things, big data and the cloud
Berendsen offer massive volume, low profit per unit laundry services to a vast number of hotels worldwide. The innovation is to RF tag sheets and towels. The BI tracks stock (losses and stock piling) allowing efficiency gains across the business.

October 2015 All Change: HESA, HEDIIP and other data requirements

Aston business school today where I’m presenting to 120 planners from 120ish UK Universities as well as recording some of the rest of the day with the Higher Education Strategic Planners Association.

All Change event overview

new street new station

First up Andy Youell, HEDIIP / redesigning the information landscape

Aims to improve quality, timeliness and accessibility of data and information about HE (students at the heart of the system, BIS 2011

A call to bravely redesign for the benefit of data providers and consumers. There are 525 data collections with 93 organisations collecting student data. There’s a lack of coherence in published information with different definitions and timescales. This means we are providing the same data in different formats at different times to different data collections. The aim is to standardise and rationalise.

The causes; lack of coordination among data collectors, lack of coordination in responding to data requests, range of data capability across HE providers and data collectors. This is a UK wide issue and is not technological.

A commission enquiry is underway, Lord Norton is chairing a committee looking into data issues. Jisc has contributed to this.

KPMG report / Vision for new landscape from HEDIIP (the 4 building blocks;
1. Collective governance function and common data principles
2. Standard data set with agreed definitions
3. Rationalisation of data collections through HESA
4. Enhanced data capability

1. Governance
KPMG recommended this is hosted by HESA

    Providing technical / operational advice
    A broad group (There is no singe body that can mandate across the disparate aspects. So we’re talking leadership, oversight, authority, challenge (and arbitration) as functions. KPMG suggest a board, senior, strategic, small in number (yet there are 93 collectors on student data alone). Should be transparent)
    Different expertise and perspectives
    Scanning and championing
    Modelled on HEDIIP advisory panel, creating other adhoc groups as necessary

Developing, managing and publishing data specifications. Undertaking stakeholder engagement (resolving problems, coordinating implementations, expertise, advice, guidance and good practice). Inventory of data collections (revised survey in January 15). Plan is to start looking into student data area.

2. ULN
The Unique Learner Number published a roadmap to adoption last summer. It’s now in phase 1 – adoption and management group. Improved harvesting and sharing of ULNs where they exist. Establishing a link between the ULN and the SCN (Scottish). Communications and awareness raising. Early benefits include qualification verification and data linking (especially for widening participation via HEAT – the higher education access tracker)
Subject coding
New JACS replacement (HECoS), non-hierarchical using 6 numeric characters providing a standardised approach to analysis.

3. Rationalisation of data collections (Previous HESA CACHED program re-launched as HESA Data Futures Programme)
A transformed HESA data collection. More on this later in the day.

4. Enhanced data capability
BIS Data capability strategy (2013) and NESTA / UUK reports (2015) stated the biggest barriers include a shared understanding of what ‘good’ is (data management is low according to the Jisc BI Maturity survey.
HEDIIP data capability toolkit includes some features of the Jisc BI Maturity exercise, though is specifically focused on data capability of course. HEDIIP collaborated with Jisc on this aspect. We do have a similar finding on data management policies and procedures from 50 University responses, October 2015


July 2016 is the end date for HEDIIP at which point it is taken forward by the HESA Data Futures Programme.

Onto the afternoon session here at the Higher Education Strategic Planners event and it’s Paul Clarke, new CEO of the Igher Education Statistics Agency, describing the HE environment and the need for ‘fast, reliable, joined dup data across the sector to help deal with it effectively.

Policy trends Paul highlighted include Austerity, efficiency ad innovation, increasing competition and marketisation, divergence between the 4 countries, sift from funding driven to data survey regulation (interesting one this), need to provide public trust and confidence.

HESA strategy will be re-articulated in light of the environment. So playing their part in upgrading the data infrastructure for a new era. Headlines;

The new strategy will run from 2016-2021 with these main fetaures;

  • Data futures programme (data collection and data governance)
  • Upgrading our technology (and skills) platform
  • Expanding range of products and services
  • Develop partnerships and collaborations to link up data more effectively
    Focus on being more efficient
  • HESA data futures programme
    In year student data collections
    Transfer (over the course of this academic year) of HEDIIP work
    Model developed by KPMG,
    Delivery 2018/19

    Next steps;
    Ongoing consultation, detailed costing and planning, set up governance structure, initial procurement (‘subject to funding’) while maintaining business as usual. I gather the aim is to fund this though the HE funding councils (subject to the green paper released today presumably). Paul stated that ‘this has the backing of the funding councils’.

    Next up – Jonathan Waller of HESA and myself on a National BI service for UK education and research
    We’re talking about Heidi Plus and Heidi Lab. Here’s our new poster describing the initiative. The HESA led piece to the left is quality assured production service. The Jisc led research and development piece to the right shows an agile approach to mashing up HESA with ‘other data’ for new insights to help Higher Education in strategic planning. Outputs will be considered for inclusion in the HESa production service or, if not on topic for that a new Jisc beta service to UK education and research.

    Heidi Plus and Heidi Lab poster

    Heidi Plus and Heidi Lab poster

    Our slides are here

    October 2015 ECAR Working Group EDUCAUSE Conference

    October 2015 and I’ve been invited to address the ECAR working groups as they address big data and analytics issues and likely impact on Higher Education.
    ECAR has 294 members across 146 institutions in 9 countries comprise the 17 working groups. These produce articles, guidance, reviews across a range of topics all available from the above link.

    2016 Top 10 IT issues (Concerns)

    1. Mobile incorporation
    2. SaaS
    3. Business performance analytics
    4. App development
    5. Accessing online courses from mobile devices
    6. Mobile apps for enterprise applications
    7. Service desk tool and management
    8. Learning Analytics
    9. Data collection and sophisticated analytics for information security
    10. Application performance monitoring


    My sides Jisc slides on data underpinned shared services for higher education

    Kent Wada, UCLA UCLA Chief Privacy Officer
    Harmony for Big Data

    Kent aired the fact that there are all sorts of things we can do with data but should we. Jisc has addressed this with our Ethical framework for learning analytics (though these play well with any data underpinned service). Similar to US data compliance and fair information practices principles.

    ‘Information security’ protects all information (making it available to the right people with the right permissions). ‘Information privacy’ protects data about people. In the UK the latter is dealt with by our data protection act. The Jisc and HESA business intelligence work detailed in my slides have addressed these issues through organisational and end user agreements and training and information security compliancy to ensure the two organisations are acting responsibly as data controllers.

    Privacy hazards include
    Indiscriminate collection of data (volunteered, observed, inferred), indefinite storage and re-use, de-identfied and re-identfied data (piecing together disparate anonymised data to identify an individual), data breaches and predictive analytics (is the model accurate and (being used appropriately). All issues to be addressed,but not to stifle innovation in data use I hope!


    EUNIS Congress 2015 Dundee

    10 June and I’m fortunate to be at the EUNIS Congress in sunny Dundee.


    EUNIS brings together those who are responsible for management, buying, development and policy for information technology in higher education across Europe. So quite a big deal.


    It’s great opportunity to seek out cross-European opportunities for collaboration. As such Jisc is running sessions about our approach to co-designing (with the UK education sector) new technology underpinned shared services. Our speakers are Phil Richards (Chief Innovation Officer), Lisa Gray (talking about our assessment and feedback initiative), Niall Sclater (Jisc learning Analytics service) and myself and Janette Hillicks on Business Intelligence.

    Back in March 2014 I wrote up my attendance at the EUNIS Business Intelligence Taskforce two day event. We’ve stayed in touch looking for opportunities to collaborate on the Jisc and HESA Business Intelligence initiative here in the UK. Specifically we’re converging on a cross-Europe BI Maturity measurement exercise and Jisc will announce our plans for the UK part of that very soon. Janette Hillicks and I are speaking more about our BI initiative on the afternoon of day 1.

    EUNIS colleagues – if you’d like to discuss any of the above initiatives do seek the Jisc attendees out or attend our sessions.

    Opening Keynote – “Confounded by Complexity”
    Dr Peter Cochrane OBE – Chief Executive , COCHRANE Associates

    Having written the above, I wasn’t able to live blog the first session by @petercochrane consultant engineer, technologist, futurist, entrepreneur & advisor to industry and governments with over 40 years experience in industry and academia. I did keep an ear on and I’d add humorist to that list and say it was truly inspirational and thought provoking.

    A few quotes from Twitter;

    Thierry Koscielniak ‏@tkoscielniak 6m6 minutes ago
    #EUNIS2015 slides from @PeterCochrane

    Peter Tinson ‏@pat3460 31m31 minutes ago
    Process driven education doesn’t delivery the skills that we need – we need problem solving skills #eunis2015

    Janette Hillicks ‏@HanetteHeelox 44m44 minutes ago
    “We kill companies by optimising them” – Peter Cochrane at #EUNIS2015

    Peter Tinson ‏@pat3460 27m27 minutes ago
    Knowledge decays, becomes redundant. Half of what a newly qualified doctor has learnt will be out of date at qualification #eunis2015

    Michele Mennielli ‏@micmenn 14m14 minutes ago
    Prof Cochrane: “Average tells us absolutely nothing, but it still is what runs our society” #EUNIS2015

    Michele Mennielli ‏@micmenn 13m13 minutes ago
    Cochrane: “if you want to make things right, hire a machine not a human being”. Was everything wrong till few decades ago??? #EUNIS2015

    Raúl Biescas ‏@raulbiescas 2m2 minutes ago
    Excellent Conference by @PeterCochrane in #EUNIS2015 @SIGMA_AIE

    Michael Clarke ‏@redmedicine 2m2 minutes ago
    Prof Cochrane’s favourite game is smuggling likely-to-be confiscated items through customs. A man has to have a hobby. #EUNIS2015

    Janette Hillicks ‏@HanetteHeelox 59s60 seconds ago
    Networks not PCs better for education @petercochrane Analogy-PCs are like underwear – u don’t let people borrow your underwear. #EUNIS2015

    Keynote Two – Jisc Research and Development: Faster Horses or Racing Cars?
    Dr Phil Richards – Chief Innovation Officer, Jisc

    Phil gave an overview of the new Jisc (a charitable organisation offering solutions to the UK education sector) and highlighted its 4 main areas of work offering shared service to the UK education sector across network and technology, digital resources, advice and engagement, research and development. Each university and college in the UK has its own Jisc account manager. As Chief Innovation officer Phil is head of the Jisc research and development function and outlined the importance of this area in a high technology (fast changing) environment. There’s a new focus on development of digital services and a pipeline to do so. Form technology foresight, proof of concepts, alpha prototypes, beta robust prototypes, service development, service enhancement and, importantly, service decommission.

    Jisc currently has a portfolio of 30 R&D projects though this is reducing. See

    Phil outlined a return on pipeline investment economic prediction of £120 million savings over the next 3 years

    So how does Jisc undertake R&D? Co-design with principles of focused, partnership, agile and experimental. Partners are key professional associations representing staff groups across the UK education sector as well as students themselves and European organisations such as Sigma and Cineca. The outcome of the 2014 consultation came out with 6 areas;
    Research at risk (research data management and curation)
    Implementing FELTAG (FE Learning and teaching action group)
    Digital learning and digital capabilities (entrants not having their expectations met)
    Prospect to alumnus (setting up information systems that genuinely put the student at the centre – Student records systems tend to centre on the administrators)
    Learning analytics service
    Business intelligence service

    Along with a shared hosting platform for delivery based on the Google stack.

    Jisc runs an annual summer of student innovation competition. Students upload a video of their ideas, the community votes, the successful ideas are taking forward in a sort of Jisc incubator for start ups depending on readiness. The most promising of these is available now and allows researchers to recruit the right participants for their research – is available to use now

    Future challenges for Jisc R&D
    Since 2008 there has been an annual funding cut in UK Higher education budget of around £100 million. Efficiency savings of that magnitude are under consideration such as

    > the duplication of non-academic systems (Jisc is starting with further education)
    > provision of very large scale data centres (IBM rationalised to 6 and cite a saving of $1 billion a year
    > equipment sharing (Jisc has a service offering this and aims to increase usage)
    > educational data brokering / streamlining the data landscape / big data benfits (Jisc has run a successful pilot)