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Millenials Benefit from Big Data at the University of Kentucky

Posted by Christine Donato in SAP Business Trends on Apr 15, 2014

Sarah Williams* is a millennial. And like most millennials, Sarah has student loans.  To put herself through college, she worked overtime as a restaurant server; however that was not enough to cover the cost of tuition, rent, car payments, and text books.  Sarah graduated in 2013 with over $31,000 in student loan debt.

According to the American Student Association, today, in the US, there is somewhere between $902 billion and $1 trillion in total outstanding student loan debt, and in 2013, the average American student graduated with about $29,000 of debt.  Add interest onto that number and incorporate the struggle to gain employment after graduation and you have a recipe for years of living paycheck to paycheck. Ask most millennials and they will tell you: it’s not fun.


However the University of Kentucky, a state and federally funded public institution teaching 28,000+ students, is determined to make a difference. In an effort to use data and analytics to improve graduation rate (avoiding a hike in tuition costs) and to achieve operational efficiencies, the University of Kentucky (UK) transitioned away from its large data warehouse and went live with the in-memory data analysis capabilities of SAP HANA in March 2012.

According to an ROI study by IDC, by running SAP HANA, the school will achieve:

     -$6.17 million in benefits (discounted) over five years

     -509% return on investment of the SAP HANA purchase

     -Payback in 9.5 months

In addition, UK will save an average of $210,800 per year in increased tuition over five years by improving its graduation rate through the use of analytics enabled by SAP HANA.

The ROI study also projected many technological benefits due to SAP HANA.  They include:

     -Up to 420 times faster data reporting than the legacy system (large data warehouse)

     -Up to 15 times improvement in query load times

     -Average data compression improvement of 77%

     -Up to 87% reduction in extract, transform, and load (ETL) times

     -Up to 80% of data updated in real time

With the in-memory data analysis capabilities of SAP HANA, The University of Kentucky can view granular reporting data in minutes rather than days.  Now, UK has real-time access to information on student performance and can detect the need to provide personalized services to struggling students much earlier, significantly reducing the likelihood that the students will leave school. By reducing attrition and increasing the graduation rate, the university will bring in more tuition dollars without raising cost.

Although the University of Kentucky can’t completely relieve the stress of student loans, by utilizing SAP HANA for its in-memory computing, the university is making a proactive effort to save funds, avoid hikes in tuition rates, and increase the efficiency of operations and staff.  The university is now better achieving its mission of providing higher education to as many students as possible.  And for students like Sarah Williams, the effort is appreciated and makes the difference between eating instant noodles for dinner each night and affording fresh groceries.

Read the original blog release here.

Follow me on twitter: @CMDonato and on LinkedIn.

*Name has been changed to protect the privacy of the individual.

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