A new report found that universities struggle to realize the full potential of data and analytics. The study from consultancy ACS found that while higher education institutions collect huge amounts of data, most fail to leverage it effectively. By not optimizing data integration, insights, and deployment, colleges are missing out on opportunities to improve key strategies and operations.

The report, “Analytics Transformation in Higher Education,” analyzed survey results from 100+ higher ed IT and business leaders. It found that nearly all colleges (96%) need to improve their data management practices and analytics maturity to gain more value from their data. Data lakes, data warehouses, and metadata catalogs are underused, preventing data from being accessible, integrated, governed, and analyzed as needed.

Most schools (88%) want to get better at predictive analytics, personalization, and insights to enhance the student experience and improve outcomes. But only 26% are very effective at predictive analytics today. Six in ten also want to enhance business intelligence for key metrics, but only 16% report highly effective BI capabilities.

Gaps exist across areas like strategy, organization, data, technology, and culture—all of which must align to build a data-driven college. Issues include unclear data strategies, lack of exec support, siloed data ownership, outdated tools, and limited analytics skills. Staff require training, resources, and incentives to change how they think about and work with data and technology.

While enthusiasm for data and analytics grows, transition challenges should not be underestimated. By promoting integrated strategies, enabling technologies, upskilling staff, and establishing a data-oriented culture, however, universities can achieve “quantum leaps” in value. With stronger data governance, institutions gain secure data access, quality, interoperability, and insights critical for innovation and gaining competitive advantage.

In summary, the research reinforces the need for colleges to prioritize data and analytics strategy, technology, talent, and culture change to unlock the potential of information they already have and create sustainable value. By optimizing their data resources, universities can advance key goals, better understand and engage students, improve operations, and boost funding and reputation—ultimately fulfilling their mission in new and impactful ways. Gaining data and analytics maturity is a journey, but the destination is well worth the effort.

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