Education is becoming an increasingly complex and demanding sector for those attempting to run successful businesses. Across much of the world, educational institutions are expected to produce better outcomes with reduced resources and fewer funds. This is where business intelligence software can be helpful in analyzing student enrolment data or graduation rates, for instance.
The challenge of satisfying the expectations of parents, students, watchdogs, and governmental authorities is growing by the day. Operating conditions are tougher than ever before and intense scrutiny of all aspects of performance is now the norm.
Performance analysis and action planning have traditionally been time-consuming activities with heavy associated manpower and resource requirements.
Educational institutions are becoming increasingly demanding – both in terms of running schools as a business and providing the resources to educate young minds. To minimize this burden and benefit from actionable insights to improve both academic performance and business function, HigherEd has begun turning to business intelligence systems.
Why Adopt Business Intelligence Software?
According to our dataset on business intelligence solutions, we have seen an increase in new implementations in this segment among universities and colleges. In most instances, these institutions choose to implement such solutions to access important facts about their business and reduce overall management complexity. These benefits ultimately contribute to an enhanced educational experience for students of all ages.
Business intelligence solutions enable educational institutions to foster a broad culture of data-driven decision-making. At the same time, it helps school administrators to easily identify trends, map out plans of action and ultimately ensure both academic and organizational objectives.
The benefits of business intelligence in the higher education are spread across three primary categories:
1. Academic Outcomes and Student Experience
Strategic use of business intelligence can significantly improve the student experience and make a measurable difference to overall academic outcomes. Student performance and subject preference trends can be monitored and analyzed, allowing for adjustments to curriculum delivery strategies and general teaching methods.
This is important as performance, retention, and satisfaction of students are measures of success for educational institutions. Business intelligence software can help institutions run more successfully, but such efforts should ultimately be geared towards the success of the students they educate.
2. Administrative Efficiency and Effectiveness
Business intelligence software allows for the centralization of all important data needed to successfully run an institution. This can exponentially speed up and simplify a wide variety of administrative processes, enabling resources to be reallocated and bringing the benefit of reduced human error into the equation.
From the costs and revenues perspective, business intelligence software can be used to track and analyze all expenses and revenue streams. This can prove invaluable in the identification of unnecessary or excessive outgoings when analyzed in accordance with the respective return on investment in each instance.
BI software can also play a vital role in the development and optimization of higher education marketing and advertising strategies – essential for attracting the right applicants in the first place.
3. Employee Morale and Management
The simplification and optimization of countless key processes by BI software can also contribute to employee morale and motivation, making it easier to manage the workforce. Workforce planning, scheduling, and deployment of the labour force can all be simplified with the data and insights provided by business intelligence systems.
In addition, top-line management can monitor and track the workloads of teaching and non-teaching staff to ensure that nobody is over-allotted or underutilized. Student and teacher performance trends can also be identified and acted upon, through the use of average grade-tracking functionalities comparing current performance to comparable historical data.
Historical Market Trends
In comparison with other edtech product categories, business intelligence solutions have not seen clear patterns in the past decade. A few trends have emerged:
- There are no true market leaders in the BI product group: Oracle, IBM and Evisions which represented huge new implementations in the early 2010s, plateaued and even decreased their market shares since then.
- Once a promising solution, Tableau has also plateaued.
- Microsoft Power BI, thanks to a free plan, an easy-to-use interface and its integration with other Microsoft products, saw an increase in its adoption as soon as it became publicly available. It is still only used by 4% of the institutions.
As of 2022, the business intelligence market is spread across ten leading solutions with more than 150 products fighting to get some shares of this important market.
Business Intelligence Used with Other Systems
We produced a few years ago the first version of a graph comparing the use of specific BI systems with SIS. Several duos emerged from this graph, but most importantly, a trend. If an SIS company also offers a business intelligence solution, the institution selects the BI software to facilitate the integration between the two solutions.
Once selected as an independent solution, BI software is now selected mostly as a secondary system. We can see this trend with Tableau. Since it was purchased by Salesforce in August 2019, Tableau is often packaged as a powerful tool for Salesforce users. The same logic goes with PowerBI, Jenzabar, Oracle, and Argos (Ellucian).
We did not produce a visualization for the ERP systems and the BI solutions, but our data shows that similar relationships exist in other product categories than just BI and SIS.
Simplified Adoption and Integration
Among those who continue to show reluctance to the adoption of business intelligence software, potential complications, and disruption during the integration process is one of the most common concerns.
Contrary to popular belief, however, the integration of a business intelligence solution can be surprisingly straightforward. All with no downtime of operations to factor in and a learning curve gentle enough for any schoolwork to negotiate with ease.