Business Objects, an SAP company, is a leading business intelligence (BI) software provider. Its product portfolio includes reporting and analyzing tools, dashboards, data integration tools and enterprise platforms. Here are some general examples how business intelligence can be used in the context of Higher Education:
Business Intelligence can provide employees, faculties, deans and other members of a university with institutional data for better decision making. In most cases, data which is derived from different systems, is transferred into a data warehouse, which is used as a huge silo for current and historical data. With such a database, different kinds of analytics and reporting can be done. BI’s advantage is its accessibility: Everybody who needs trusted information for business decisions can access the data with a specific role instead of accessing different systems to get all required information. Each role has a different security level which allows access to either all information or only to a restricted area.
How can business intelligence be used in Higher Education?
BI is relevant for different areas of Higher Education like admissions, student financials, and student management. Some examples:With information of the data warehouse you can see how many students attend an institution, their favourite programs of study, and other key data that can be used to gain future students. Reports or dashboards can provide an overview on key performance indicators (KPI) which can be critical for financial decisions. The following scenario describes some of the existing problems and how they could be addressed with Business Objects:
Imagine a large university with thousands of students and employees. Student data, including academic and financial information, are stored in many different systems. Access to the data is cumbersome because there is not one single view to it. As a result, employees have difficulties in accessing the information they need in order to fulfil their tasks. This university is already using reporting tools, but creating a report is a time-consuming task, which can only be performed by specialized IT-employees. As a matter of fact, there is not one unified reporting. Instead, during meetings much time is spent on reconciling different figures from different sources. An additional problem is time. Some employees may have to wait until the next quarter to get information they need right now, because the report takes a long time to run and is only performed four times a year. The university decision makers also request an up to date overview on key performance indicators of the institution.
Business Objects Enterprise could address the described problems as it can be used to access a data warehouse (e.g. SAP’s data warehouse) with a single view to all necessary data. Business Object’s platform provides different ways to access data using a semantic layer (Universe), OLAP cubes or special connectors. The platform offers additional advantages: e.g. it could be integrated into a portal, so staff members who need information can access the portal with a specific role and get the information at the time it is needed. It is also possible to share reports with other people via email or trough the portal. The time problem could be solved by scheduling reports and by having them sent to all required recipients automatically.
Reporting tools from Business Objects such as Web Intelligence, Desktop Intelligence or Crystal Reports facilitate the task of creating reports. End-users can easily create their own reports whenever they want and with the information they need right now. An order to the IT-department to create a special report is not necessary anymore. It is also possible to create unified reports which are used by other employees. Time consuming reconciliation of different figures becomes part of the past, because everybody uses now the same report and one central source. To monitor the KPI of the institution, Crystal Xcelsius, Dashboard Manager or Performance Manager is available. Users can create their own dashboard and monitor specific indicators.
As you can see Business Objects offers a lot of potential in the area of Higher Education. More information about the products or some customer stories can be found at: http://www.sdn.sap.com/irj/sdn/businessobjects