When EAB first launched the IT Forum in 2014, the role of technology in higher education was the domain of Chief Technology Officers, Chief Information Officers, and other technology professionals. Sure, some digital leaders held Cabinet-level positions, and larger IT organizations like Arizona State University were playing a central role in corralling institutions towards collaborative strategies with emerging EdTech vendors. But the majority of schools sought EAB’s help in making the case for technology investments, working across campus silos, and positioning IT as a key enabler of institutional strategy and mission.
Fast forward to 2021. At the tail end of a pandemic that sent most campuses virtual, there are few leaders who haven’t gotten the memo: technology is a differentiator, and investments in data and digital enablement will be a key strategy for institutions hoping to thrive in the future.
But even in the aftermath of the industry’s wide-ranging digital shocks, some things haven’t changed a bit. Or they’ve moved in the wrong direction. With recent purchases adding to complex tech and data ecosystems, the question is no longer “how do we generate appetite for digital transformation in higher education?”, but rather: “How do we turn our haphazard technology portfolio into an asset that works to better serve students, faculty, and staff?"
More areas of campus engaging with data strategy and analytics
As we worked with IT leaders grappling with these questions, EAB’s experts undertook research on data governance, decision support, and even IT system integration in higher education—all to support technologists hoping to deliver greater value from their digital investments. At the same time, IR leaders were partnering with different functional areas to help them leverage new analytics tools to surface insights. Unsurprisingly, they encountered similar issues: fragmented technology ecosystems, calcified data silos, and a growing appetite to make data and technologies more immediately actionable for non-technical users.
In student success, as advisors and faculty got deeper into using Navigate for data-informed interventions, they began clamoring for more information to further personalize student support. But as appetite for digital processes grew, institutions’ technical staff balked at the difficulty of making changes in their campus ecosystem—for example, the need to swap out a legacy student information system for something newer, without losing critical student-facing functionality. Similarly, our benchmarking work supported deans and chairs to contextualize key operational metrics like course completion rates by academic discipline, but was challenged by the varying quality of employee rank and class data—and pervasive campus data detractors highlighted a need to build better trust in institutional analytics.
To tackle these challenges head on, EAB invested in Edify, our Education Data Platform. As we work with partners to simplify and democratize their campus data, our integration engineers, data scientists, and higher education experts are now working directly with more stakeholders to map and organize their systems and data to support broader campus data strategy. As our conversations expand into enrollment, centers for online learning, and even advancement, the opportunity to share insights with the broader higher education data and analytics community grows too.
Bringing tech research and analytics strategy together—on this blog
Given the growing community of EAB researchers, partners, and practitioners working together against higher education’s most pressing data challenges, we’re merging our IT Blog and Institutional Analytics Blog into one Data and Analytics Blog. We want this blog to be a place where higher education leaders within and beyond IT can find insights about all aspects technology and data strategy.
Across the coming months and beyond, we look forward to sharing more ideas and recommendations from experts and partner practitioners who play different roles and represent different perspectives on data and analytics strategy. Look for:
Insight into novel analytics that campus leaders are using to address cross-cutting institutional strategies like equity, student success, and financial sustainability
Recommendations for developing a people-focused data strategy to shepherd lasting change
And because your campus data strategy is everyone’s job, we’ll keep curated lists of our most relevant insights available for everyone from your Cabinet executives, to your data converts, your analysts, and your infosec professionals.
We hope you’ll subscribe (if you haven’t already) and consider sharing the blog with a colleague—at your institution or within your peer network. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or suggestions for topics you’d like to see covered here.
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