IT Forum Perspectives

3 tips to increase data accessibility for campus members

Moving from data to decisions

by Anna Krenkel

Although higher education institutions are ripe with data, campus members often struggle to obtain the information they need to convert into actionable next steps. Discover three tips for how IT leaders can make data more accessible across campus.

1. Push basic metrics through a user-friendly format

When campus members struggle to find data independently, they often turn to central decision support staff (e.g., Institutional Research, Business Intelligence) for even the most basic information, such as enrollment by college.

To reduce these requests, decision support staff should promote self-service data requests by turning some basic fact sets into dynamic data visualizations. These visualizations are far more useful and flexible than the standard tables found within most higher education institutions’ fact books. A range of visualizations increases campus members’ ability to find the information they need without burdening central decision support staff.

Learn how you can overcome the barriers to true decision support

Complex and simple data visualizations

Simple and complex data visualizations

2. Provide embedded guidance on report data

Data is only useful when converted into information, which requires an understanding of the data’s context and meaning.

Newspaper-style data report
Umeå University in Sweden’s business intelligence group transitioned its lists of static reports into a newspaper-like design to increase accessibility of information.

Reports available through BI now include narrative text written by BI staff members, who refresh the commentary monthly to ensure the context matches the underlying data. The source data within the reports updates daily, and campus members can also drill down into the underlying data.

3. Use member feedback to leverage report data

An inability to answer the question, “How can I even use this data?” often frustrates users and reduces the value of analytical resources.

Each report in the University of Washington’s BI Portal includes with suggestions for business questions that users can answer with the reports, which helps others crowdsource potential uses.

Four hallmarks of best-in-class data governance

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