/ The Very Real and Immediate Need for BI in Higher Ed

Have you ever heard the stories about college admissions where a secretary arbitrarily splits a pile of applications in half and puts them in two baskets: admitted and denied? I always thought that had to be true, because how else could I have been admitted to a great university like SMU?

Impact in the US

All joking aside, higher education has a hefty task every year of deciding prospective students’ futures. Here’s a general overview of what that task looks like:

  • In the United States, there were 3.2 million new students entering classrooms between 2006 and 2011, according to the Census Bureau.
  • A total of 10.3 million people were enrolled in four-year colleges in 2012
  • Another 3.8 million were enrolled in graduate schools
  • Nearly 6 million were enrolled in two-year colleges

That is a lot of students! How do you track them? How do you analyze them and quantify them for admissions? How do you help the most students have the best opportunity for success? Colleges and universities been turning to business intelligence, and it has had a fantastic impact on students everywhere.

This is the stuff that gets me excited about business intelligence. In other jobs and industries, it’s easy to get lost in the minutia and just thinking of your job as “money in = product out.” But BI is so much more than that—and now, it’s giving students a better opportunity as they can count on a more equitable admissions process.

BI in Education Abroad

In India, as well as in the U.S. and elsewhere, higher education institutions are required to “do more with less.” Rajesh Ramaswami of Marlabs Inc., says that most forward-looking firms have realized the value of BI and that the market for business intelligence in education is about to explode.

In addition to admissions, Ramaswami points to several applications of BI in higher ed, including “areas of special tutoring, improving application/admission rates, reducing student attrition/drop-offs, evaluating faculty, improving curriculum, helping students prepare study plans, helping students analyze academic and career options, deciding where to open the next school/university, what courses are people able to study best in an e-learning environment, learning recommendations etc.”

It’s Not About the BI. It’s What You Do with BI that Makes a Difference.

According to Cornell University’s Assistant Director of Data Operations Tony Damiani, “Administrators crave context and the ability to put things in perspective, to understand what it all means.”

The right kind of business intelligence makes a world of difference for any organization. And frankly, there’s nothing new about it: people have always wanted to know more about what happens and why it happens. With advances in cloud-based systems, higher ed institutions and organization of absolutely every kind can have the right information at the right time, every time.