Developing and Supporting Analytics Initiatives

Insight and Benchmarks for BI in Higher Education

Business Intelligence (BI) and analytics initiatives have the potential to serve decision makers and leaders across the institution, but many institutions struggle to launch BI programs that are sustainable and affordable. The IT Forum has collected benchmarks on BI to help the IT function allocate resources and set goals that will make BI a long-term success on campus.

This report provides insights and statistics on BI initiatives of colleges and universities across the United States and Canada. Members can use the data to benchmark their BI strategy, plan, and operations against those of other organizations. See our key findings below.

1. BI struggles without data governance

Invest in tactics to standardize definitions, align processes, and centralize data access to build a sustainable BI initiative.
  • Data governance contributes to transparency, confidence, consistency, and security; without these critical pieces, BI projects can stall and even fail outright
  • Collaboration with IR on BI is correlated with better data governance, higher BI maturity, and more ROI measurement

2. Consider hiring a dedicated BI leader

Full-time BI leaders help build an initiative that is more mature, better-governed, and has stronger buy-in across campus.
  • BI leaders tend to support more collaborative efforts- which leads to more mature efforts with better ROI metrics
  • Dedicated leaders for BI are most common in initiatives with initial investment of at least $500,000, but are associated with maturity and cabinet buy-in across institution types

3. Match BI goals to campus-wide missions

Codify BI goals in a single, written plan and define ROI metrics for BI upfront to engage users early and demonstrate progress.
  • Fewer than half of institutions define the goals of BI in written form, creating the risk that turnover or organizational changes could obviate gains
  • More mature institutions use the institution's strategic plan and vision to set goals for BI, and define ROI metrics to be measured at regular intervals

4. Staff investments outweigh technology

Investments in people make up over half of BI budgets- and most plan to train existing staff rather than outsource.
  • Despite perceptions of BI as a technology project, a majority of budget dollars are dedicated to cultivating internal staff for data preparation and analysis
  • Set staffing plans based on the goals and progress of BI; early success in visualization and simple dashboards can build the foundation for more complex investments


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