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DAM2.jpgAbout a year ago, my friend Lindsey and I spent three days in Amsterdam as part of a 10-day trip through Europe.  Departing by train from Germany, we knew the minute we stepped foot outside Amsterdam Central Station that this city was wonderfully different from any place we had traveled.  Our trip consisted of an excursion to the Keukenhof tulips, tall windmills, a bike ride along the canals, samplings of rich cheeses, museum visits, an unnecessary amount of French fries dipped in mayonnaise, and new friends from all over the world.  I only regret that we never took a picture in front of the famous I amsterdam letters.

/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/danny_553488.jpgTo guide our Amsterdam adventure, a work colleague connected us with his son, Danny—a student at the University of Amsterdam. Upon meeting Danny, I realized immediately that I limited myself by only considering schools in the United States.  Danny stepped outside of his comfort zone and experienced a new exciting culture every day – and it paid off.

Opportunity is endless at the University of Amsterdam (UvA).  Seventy thousand students call UvA home and with about 10,000 employees, UvA is the largest university in the Netherlands.  Seven faculties conduct teaching and research, covering over 300 programs and varying from fundamental to applied research.  Putting all their hard work into action, UvA staff members publish over 10,000 academic publications a year.

But even the distinguished and nationally recognized UvA has its challenges.  Managing data for 70,000 students is no easy task when running an outdated IT infrastructure. UvA strives to empower its students to be successful. To achieve that goal, the school needed high-speed data computing. To begin change, UvA migrated its existing SAP Business Warehouse (SAP BW) application to the SAP HANA platform, speeding its reporting performance from 30 to 5 seconds. UvA now runs SAP Business Suite powered by SAP HANA and SAP BW powered by SAP HANA, allowing the school to spend less time on behind-the-scenes reporting and more time focusing on student success.

uva.PNGBert Voorberk, the director of ICT Services at UvA explains, “The big benefit for us is to now be able to explore the learning analytics department. SAP BW powered by SAP HANA is providing us that functionality. We were hampered by the old system. We couldn’t load any bigger reports. We couldn’t load anymore data. And now, by means of SAP HANA, we are able to go one step further. For us the next phase is learning analytics.”

Voorberk, explains, “The number of students that will not complete their studies is too high and that’s bad for the university, but it’s especially bad for the students that leave the university without a grade.  That’s where IT might help especially learning analytics. [It provides] insight into which factors are most important for study success so that we can help students tackle those problems and increase their chance of completing their study.”

In a world with many options, it’s easy to miss a chance at something great.  In the case of my impulsive college selection, I neglected to consider a foreign school and now realize that I missed out on what could have been an amazing four years of learning.  UvA wants to ensure that no student misses their chance of success.  With learning analytics in its future, UvA can select a focus area for students based on technological logic, helping them to better excel and prosper.

To adapt to the nature of millennials and the age of 24×7 social connection, UvA went mobile.  “Our students are used to a mobile world…so a year ago we started with the mobility first strategy…every data point is available on mobile devices,” said Voorberk.  By choosing new interfaces available via mobile solutions from SAP and SAP Fiori apps, UvA hopes that its SAP solutions will help to enhance its learning analytics department.

UvA takes great pride in its partnership with the city of Amsterdam. Since 1632, the university has placed great value in innovation, determination, and engagement.  Students like Danny are lucky to attend an institution that challenges them to think outside the social norm and put creativity, logic, and research to practical use.  Together with SAP, UvA can enhance the learning experience at a deeper level because it has the software it needs to run large learning analytic data reports in real time.  And although I missed my chance at a Bachelor’s degree abroad, it’s never too late to go for my Master’s in Amsterdam…and I’m sure that Lindsey and Danny will be eager to visit me.

To hear more about the University of Amsterdam and its engagement with SAP, watch this interview video with Bert Voorbraak:

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To hear more about how real-time analytics can affect your business, click here.

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