“Ask anyone in higher education you’ll hear about their intense focus on falling enrollment and retention. As these trends expand, so too does the complexity and urgency on maintaining an accurate picture of what’s going on under the surface—why students don’t enroll and why they drop out at certain points in the program”, said Bob Scott of SmartDataDecisions.com. “We spent a considerable amount of time with professionals in higher education learning how they address these issues. I can tell you that it’s not achieved with just dashboards. It requires a considerable amount of data management, reporting, distribution, collaboration and communication across departments to fully-recognize what’s happening and execute plans to take corrective action. This holistic approach was the catalyst behind our higher education guidance.”

“It’s not just big schools that are facing this complexity,” said Scott. “We’re finding the same challenges from smaller, 2-year schools that have big school problems but small school budgets. Schools like the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and Southern University at Shreveport can easily describe challenges that align perfectly with larger schools that we’re working with in the US. The complexity and urgency is not unique to large, high-profile institutions.”

“Despite having more technology at their disposal, institutional Researchers that we speak to on a regular basis cite ongoing frustration with wanting tools that don’t overload users with flashy eye-candy graphics or endless feature/functionality configuration options, but instead allow users to focus on their real-world needs”, said Bob Scott. “It’s one thing to be able to create dashboards that show enrollment trends. It’s entirely another to create a system that plugs into the ecosystem and engages team members to realize what’s happening under these trends and prompt them to take preventive action before it’s too late. What seems like an obvious lesson for any technology company—put users first, not technology first—has become something of a motto for us in recent years. As a result, we’re morphing into much more than a ‘dashboard’ company—thus the added automation and monitoring layers to our offering.”

At the upcoming North East Association for Institutional Research (NEAIR) conference in Philadelphia, the team will discuss how this expanded business intelligence approach is effectively assisting institutional research departments. The gathering of IR professionals will take place Nov 8-11 at the Hyatt Regency at Penn’s Landing, Philadelphia. Joining Bob Scott on the agenda are scheduled speakers Kati Haycock, President of the Education Trust, Rev. Peter M. Donohue, Villanova, Dr. Neil D. Theobald, Temple and Dr. Karen A. Stout, Montgomery County Community College. For more information about SDD’s Higher Education business intelligence workshops, visit www.smartdatadecisions.com/business-intelligence-workshops.