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The Future-Ready Playbook

Data Empowered Culture

Data Empowerment: Why is it Critical in Higher Education?

Siloed systems make it difficult for institutions to drive learner and institution success at scale. With increased competition across higher education, having a data empowered culture is critical to being future-ready.

In’s latest edition of the Connected Student Report, 31% of faculty and staff said their institution uses multiple technology systems, and that it’s difficult to get the data needed to do their jobs effectively. Data empowerment enables institutions to move from spreadsheets and manual reports to actionable insights that not only save time for faculty and staff, but also help teams stay one step ahead of student needs. With the right insights and a unified view, institutions can improve enrollment metrics, student success goals, and much more.   

Research from the Deloitte Center for Higher Education Excellence and highlights the importance of using analytics to identify obstacles to graduation. The report cites the example of Monroe College using a more macro view of performance data to improve student outcomes. Data analytics unveiled unexpected insights, including how a C in psychology, for example, can be a red flag that a Monroe student will not make it to graduation. At the University of Central Florida (UCF), officials use real-time data to scale intervention efforts. 

“If we add course activity to the GPA data, we can get up to 90% accurate prediction of a student’s likelihood for success,” said Thomas Cavanagh, UCF vice provost of digital learning. “What we’re trying to do now is translate that into some actionable tactics,” for instance, by displaying the data in a way that leads to actual interventions.” A data empowered culture unites an entire institution around the shared goal of creating actionable insights. When datas moves from spreadsheets to interactive dashboards, institutions are able to support students more proactively and make more data-driven decisions.

Tableau highlights 8 ways institutions are making an impact with data to:

  1. Track enrollment trends 
  2. Create an interactive University Factbook 
  3. Attract prospective donors 
  4. Communicate survey results 
  5. Analyze space usage 
  6. Benchmark against peer institutions 
  7. Show fiscal responsibility 
  8. Improve communication and collegiality

Higher education Tableau accelerators for IPEDS data, admissions, and student retention make it even easier to become more data-driven at your institution.

How to Create a Data-Empowered Culture

What does this look like in action?  Institutions should consider the following three steps to create a data-empowered culture:

1. Determine areas for data “stickiness”

Where are faculty and staff getting stuck finding information? What insights do leaders need to plan strategically for the future? What questions are students frequently asking? In the latest edition of the Connected Student Report, 26% of students said they have to sign in to two or more different platforms to find the answers and information they need to be successful every day.  Understanding where the data gaps are and where information typically gets stuck is the first step in determining where to focus efforts. 

2. Create data centers of excellence across campus

This could be one or many departments in areas such as admissions, student services, and advancement.  As shared later in this chapter, Ivy Tech Community College is one example of an institution bringing analytics to the most critical corners of campus. By focusing on data quality and accessibility, faculty and staff can work more efficiently to support students throughout their entire education journey. This fosters a culture of data-driven decision making which can significantly impact areas such as student enrollment, institution operations, and more.

3. Train faculty and staff to be data leaders

Institutions must ensure faculty and staff have easy access to key dashboards, anytime and from anywhere. Find opportunities for hands-on training where teams can learn how to use dashboards in their day to day work flows. The Education Hub in the Trailblazer Community is a great place to get tips from higher education leaders who have created a data-empowered culture at their institution.

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How Ivy Tech Community College uses Tableau to Bring Student Information Together

Ivy Tech Community College, which serves nearly 160,000 students at more than 40 locations, implemented a CRM strategy to connect large amounts of siloed data from multiple sources. 

Ivy Tech’s end-to-end implementation of CRM for higher education, called Ivy Connect, has consolidated data into a 360-degree view of the entire community. Before a CRM platform, Ivy Tech’s student support team worked across 11 separate systems to get a view of a student and their relationships. Now, staff are spending less time gathering data, allowing them to be more proactive and dedicate more time to helping students. 

Additionally, the IT team worked to build a culture of data and analytics with data centers of excellence established across multiple campuses. Using Tableau, Ivy Tech is now able to gain and widely share insights to enhance learner persistence and completion rates.

Empowering Student Success with Tableau

How the Institut Quimic de Sarria Increased Staff Efficiency with a Data-Empowered Culture

Based in Barcelona, the Institut Quimic de Sarria (IQS) has evolved into an international leader for advanced engineering and management programs. Like many institutions, IQS’s vision and growth was outpacing their internal infrastructure. The first main objective was to create a more flexible and efficient environment for the university’s teams. 

By consolidating all their data into an integrated CRM platform, IQS has been able to gain better insights into its operations. IQS has improved its ability to engage with stakeholders while also building resiliency. For example, the institution has increased efficiencies for staff members in career services, who now spend 40% less time on common tasks.

See How IQS Elevated the Student & Staff Experience at Scale

With actionable data, IQS empowered their staff with 360-degree views of every student.

In Summary

When institutions create data-empowered cultures, they experience several benefits including eliminating the need for multiple spreadsheets, increased efficiencies among faculty and staff, and an improved student experience. Data-empowerment also enables institutions to be one step ahead of constituent needs, resulting in the best possible experience for students, staff, alumni and donors. Future-ready institutions are standing on the pillars of actionable data so they can move swiftly as constituent needs change over time. In the next chapter, we’ll discuss how CRM for higher education provides proactive and holistic support for institutions looking to create a seamless student experience.

The Future-Ready Playbook

Learn more about CRM for higher education and dive into the four pillars of the future-ready institution. Each of the following chapters is dedicated to these pillars, with actionable steps you can take to drive learner and institution success from anywhere.

Learn More about Salesforce for Education

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