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Blog Higher Education Industry

Seven Steps to Building a Data-Driven Culture in Higher Education

Seven Steps to Building a Data-Driven Culture in Higher Education

What we are hearing

At Datatelligent, we spend hours a day listening to all our customers in Higher Education. In the listening, we hear a lot of recurring concerns and themes. Here are just a few things we hear: 

  • “Traditionally, we’ve had strong student retention, but lately, it’s trending downwards, and we want to know why.”
  • “We want to know who our students are and find out the kind of students who succeed in our programs, but we don’t know where to start.”
  • “We need to identify at-risk students better and faster so we can get them the resources they need before it’s too late.”
  • “We like to say we’re an institution that makes data-informed decisions, but in reality, we don’t look at the data because we don’t have an easy way to look at data.”
  • “We need to simplify data visualization. We need dashboards that tell our people, ‘Here’s what you need to know.'”
  • “We know we have the answers in our data, and we talk about unifying data so we can build the analytics we need to understand our students, but we have systems everywhere, and we don’t have the big-dollar budget to integrate them.”

When we hear this, we know we’re talking to customers on the journey to building a data-driven culture at their institutions. They are experiencing growing pains. Being good listeners, the team here at Datatelligent wants to minimize the pain and speed up the growth.

Building a data-driven culture

We hosted a recent webinar with Debbie Phelps at Cowley College, Executive Director of Institutional Effectiveness and proud “office of one.”  Debbie explained how she, with limited resources, built a data-driven culture where they truly make data-informed decisions.

Debbie started with a plan and made Datatelligent a partner in their journey. Our team and our solutions played their part, but Debbie was the driving force behind the journey to being data-driven. Here’s how they did it.

1. leadership commitment and vision
  • Leadership Buy-in: Without this, the plan to build a data-driven culture goes nowhere. University leaders, including administrators, deans, and department heads, must champion the importance of data-informed decision-making. Their commitment sets the tone for the entire institution.
  • Vision Statement: Develop a clear vision statement that emphasizes the value of data-driven practices. Communicate this vision consistently to your team.
2. Infrastructure and data systems
  • Data Governance: Establish robust data governance practices. Define roles, responsibilities, and processes for data management. Ensure data security, privacy, and compliance. This takes a lot of work, but our customers, like Cowley College, who do this, see bottom-line lasting benefits and improve the success of their students – the real reason behind what we do.
  • Integrated Systems: Invest in systems that allow seamless data integration. Siloed data inhibits effective decision-making. This is where the Datatelligent Platform for Higher Education really helps you build your data-driven culture.
3. Data Literacy Training
  • Training Programs: So many institutions make the mistake of taking a “build it and they will come” approach. Not Cowley College, and not Datatelligent customers. We always advise and help you design regular workshops and training sessions on data literacy. Your team should understand basic statistical concepts, data visualization, and interpretation.
  • Department-Specific Training: Don’t forget to tailor training to specific roles (e.g., admissions, student services, finance). Each department has unique data needs.
4. Transparency and Communication
  • Transparency: This is an essential part of your governance and security plan. Also, make it a part of the training. Be patient about data sources, methodologies, and limitations. Your team should know where the data comes from and how it’s processed.
  • Regular Updates: This ensures everyone is on the same page in a data-driven culture. Provide timely updates on institutional performance metrics. Dashboards and reports should be accessible to all team members.
  • Feedback Loop: Just as Datatelligent listens to customers, as a data steward of your institution, it’s important to listen to your “customers.” Encourage your team to provide feedback on data quality and usability. Act on their insights.
5. Data-driven decision-making processes
  • Define Key Metrics: Key performance indicators (KPIs) relevant to each department. For admissions, it might be enrollment rates; for student services, retention rates; for advisement, identifying the students at risk and designing academic plans that ensure student success.
  • Use Cases: Illustrate real-world scenarios where good data and data visualizations influenced decisions. Share success stories to inspire everyone.
  • Cross-Functional Collaboration: Encourage collaboration across departments. Data insights often emerge at the intersection of disciplines. If you get the chance to talk to your peers at Cowley College, this is something they do well.
6. Ethical Considerations
  • Privacy and Consent: Your team should understand the ethical implications of handling student data. Ensure compliance with privacy laws (e.g., FERPA). This has remained constant, and hyper-vigilance is needed as AI tools are rolled out to enhance analytics.
  • Bias Awareness: Train your team to recognize and mitigate biases in data analysis. Ethical use of predictive models is critical, especially now that we have entered the age of AI, which, not surprisingly, mimics the same biases as its human counterparts.
7. Continuous Improvement
  • Assessment: Regularly assess the effectiveness of data-informed practices. Are we moving the needle on student retention? Are we identifying students at risk sooner? Are decisions improving? Is your team using data effectively?
  • Celebrate Wins: We encourage all our customers to do, acknowledge, and celebrate instances where data-informed decisions lead to positive outcomes. Recognize every team member’s contributions.
Conclusion

We have learned from our customers at Datatelligent that building a data-informed culture is a long but rewarding journey. It requires collaboration, adaptability, and a shared commitment to student success – the real motivation behind what we do. By empowering your team with data literacy and fostering a culture of curiosity, colleges, and universities can thrive in an increasingly data-driven world that will soon have jet-fueled added to the engines once AI tools catch up with the rest of us data-driven thinkers.

Categories
Blog Human Services Industry

Data-Driven Innovation: A Dive into Datatelligent’s Impact on Tri-Town YMCA

Data-Driven Innovation: A Dive into Datatelligent's Impact on Tri-Town YMCA

In a recent interview on WGN Radio’s “Your Money Matters,” the spotlight shone on a groundbreaking partnership between Datatelligent and Tri-Town YMCA. The interview highlights the transformative power of data-driven innovation in community development.

Datatelligent, an active member of Innovation DuPage, has been at the forefront of leveraging data to drive positive change. The company’s collaboration with Tri-Town YMCA is a testament to the potential for innovation when technology meets community initiatives.

 

The interview delves into how Datatelligent’s expertise is being harnessed to enhance the efficiency and impact of Tri-Town YMCA’s programs. By employing data-driven insights, the YMCA aims to optimize resource allocation, improve program effectiveness, and ultimately better serve the community.

Tri-Town YMCA’s commitment to community development aligns seamlessly with Datatelligent’s mission to empower organizations through data. By integrating data analytics into their decision-making processes, the YMCA can:

  • better understand the community’s needs
  • identify areas for improvement
  • tailor their programs to make a more significant impact.

 

For an in-depth exploration of this exciting collaboration, listen to the full interview here. Gain insights into how data-driven innovation is shaping the future of community development. Learn how Datatelligent and Tri-Town YMCA are working together to create positive change.

 

Technology is playing a pivotal role in shaping our communities. Datatelligent’s collaboration with Tri-Town YMCA exemplifies the potential for data-driven innovation to drive positive social impact. This partnership is a beacon, showcasing how businesses and organizations can create a better, more informed future.

Categories
AI Blog Higher Education Industry Snowflake

The Importance of AI-Powered Analytics in Higher Education

The Importance of AI-Powered Analytics in Higher Education

The future of AI is now

At Datatelligent, we look to the future for ways to help our customers solve decades-old Higher Education problems. We hear a lot of questions lately about AI and what it means for Institutional Research. Questions like, “How can Generative AI and Large Language Models help our analytics? Will adding AI extract the predictive insights we need to help students and help us with retention, recruitment, and funding?”

Well, it’s funny you should ask. On November 15, 2023, we are hosting a webinar on these very topics with our most AI-innovative partner, Snowflake. Elevate Education: AI Solutions for Higher Education.

Snowflake is moving fast, at Chicago-blizzard pace, embracing all that’s AI and announcing earlier this month, during Snowday, a host of new AI tools.  We will in turn innovate with our Higher Education customers and implement these tools into the Datatelligent Unified Data Platform.

The Definition of AI in Higher Education

AI-powered analytics is the use of artificial intelligence to analyze large datasets to identify patterns, trends, and insights. Here are some of the areas will innovate with AI-powered analytics with our higher education customers:

  • Student success: AI-powered analytics can be used to identify students who are at risk of dropping out or failing a course. This information can then be used to provide targeted interventions, such as tutoring or academic advising.
  • Student Recruitment and Enrollment: considered one of the holy grails of analytics, identify the best mix of students who will benefit and are succeed from the specialties offered by the institution. Closely related, AI can help identify so you can focus recruitment on the students that will help your institution win and retain their grant funding.
  • Enrollment Trends: Identifying the trends early that will impact future enrollment. Linking to all sorts of internal and external data sources, AI-powered insights helps plan for student recruitment in fast-changing demographics.
  • Faculty Planning: Recruitment doesn’t stop with students. AI can help with faculty planning, identifying the educational specialties that are in demand now and in the future. Recruitment efforts and education certifications can be planned years in advance.
  • Personalized learning: Personalized learning experiences can be created for students using insights from AI-powered data. This can be done by adapting course materials, providing individualized feedback, and recommending additional resources.
  • Administrative efficiency: Why not have that AI-bot be the helpful assistant it wants to be, automating scheduling, grading, and admissions processing? This can free up time for faculty and staff to focus on more strategic initiatives.
The Challenges of AI

Of course, AI is not the magic pill to make all our analytic and Institutional Research headaches go away. At Datatelligent, we help mitigate the challenges AI-powered analytics brings to higher education:

  • Data quality: AI-powered analytics immediately bring up Data Quality.  Institutions need to ensure the data is accurate, complete, and consistent, or your “insights” will be none of these.
  • Bias: AI algorithms can be biased, which can lead to unfair or inaccurate results. Data Analysts need to be aware of the potential for bias and make sure a human takes steps to mitigate it.
  • Ethics: The use of AI in higher education raises a number of ethical concerns, such as the potential for surveillance and discrimination. Institutions need to develop clear ethical guidelines for the use of AI in higher education. At Datatelligent, we have a well-developed AI Governance and Ethics framework.

Overall, AI-powered analytics has the potential to revolutionize higher education. As with any revolution there are always challenges, which is why it’s best to align with an ally before overthrowing any king. We’ll be talking about the AI Revolution on November 15. We hope to see you at the Datatelligent and Snowflake AI Solutions for Higher Education webinar.

Categories
Blog Food Assistance Human Services

How Food Banks Benefit from Partnerships

How Food Banks Benefit from Partnerships

How might your organization benefit?

As a food bank, food pantry, or food council, your mission likely involves reducing food insecurity or hunger and increasing access to healthy food. You probably ramped up during the pandemic and are still waiting for the need to decrease. You have likely already squeezed out every bit of efficiency in your operations with today’s tools.

But what if you could add a tool that, within three short months, can maximize the data collected in your various systems and communicate it effectively to stakeholders? Have you considered a partnership with Datatelligent and Tableau?

Datatelligent is a data analytics company that partners with nonprofit organizations to organize existing data. Conversely, Tableau is a leading data visualization tool that can transform complex data into easily understandable and actionable insights. Food banks, food pantries, food councils, and their human service partners have worked with us in many ways.

Data analysis and visualization

Organizations often input information about donors, volunteers, food types, needs, geography, expenses, and more into various software systems. Datatelligent pulls data from disparate systems and layers on Tableau’s data visualization tools. We transform this data into dashboards where various staff leaders can answer questions and make data-driven decisions through self-service.

Streamlined operations

Datatelligent can combine data sets that previously lived in data silos or even simple spreadsheets. Using data analytics, Food Banks and Pantries may identify bottlenecks or inefficiencies in their processes. With info from across their service area, Food Councils can visualize the trends in needs, resources, and gaps in the overall food assistance ecosystem. With the help of Datatelligent and Tableau, they can implement changes to streamline their operations, improve efficiency, and ultimately serve more people in need.

Improved fundraising and communications

How do you prove you are making a difference? Data analytics can help you identify donation trends, understand your donor base, and target communications. More importantly, effective use of data can help justify sustained or increased funding—especially when it illustrates how the services provided meet the need or highlights precisely who is most in need. Datatelligent and Tableau equip organizations with strategies that are more likely to resonate with donors and result in increased funding.

Contact us to learn how your Food Bank, Food Pantry, or Food Council can work with us. Tell the story of your food ecosystem and your organization’s impact. Consider partnering with Datatelligent and Tableau to take your organization to the next level.

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