Wednesday, 18 May 2011 11:33

Macquarie University generates new insights with Yellowfin Business Intelligence

By Lachlan James

Macquarie University today launched the first phase of a university-wide reporting and analytics program, Datamart.

Macquarie University today launched the first phase of a university-wide reporting and analytics program, Datamart.

Datamart, powered by Yellowfin's Business Intelligence (BI) solution, delivers self-service data analysis to Macquarie University academic and business decision-makers anywhere, anytime, on any device.

Macquarie University, based in Sydney's northwestern high-tech corridor, seeks to surface deep insight into its wide range of operational data, used to support the strategic direction of the university.

'Macquarie has a strategic goal - to be one of the top 200 universities in world rankings by 2014, and to be one of the top eight research universities in Australia,' said Macquarie University Chief Information Officer (CIO), Marc Bailey. 'To get there, we need to understand how we're performing. To achieve that, we need great data. Actually we have the data, but we weren't able to surface it. Now Datamart, with Yellowfin technology underpinning it, provides us capability to expose that data and leverage it.'

Bailey said that implementing a BI rollout, in an era of greater competition due to the uncapping of student places, would give Macquarie a significant advantage over other higher education providers. He explained that university rankings and research funding were heavily dependent on the type of data submitted to government and regulatory bodies. Bailey also said that Yellowfin would allow Macquarie to improve the quality of teaching and student services based on the analysis of student and survey data.

'Data is a competitive issue for universities. Universities are engines of data, producing endless amounts of statistics and numbers everyday. We've both a capacity to produce it, and a thirst to consume it. When you're trying to compare and assess the performance of organizations in the private sector, you've got dollars and shareholder value as the ultimate bottom line. When you're trying to compare the performance of a university, you have data as a bottom line. So good data that points in the right strategic direction can help you understand how you're doing compared to another institution. If you can deliver that data with high veracity and faster timeliness then you've got a competitive edge. That's exactly what Datamart is doing for Macquarie.'

Macquarie University currently has three key data sets available for Yellowfin to report from - student data, research data and Australian graduate survey data.

'These are data sets that universities throughout Australia use to report to the government regulators to explain or justify performance, which are directly linked to funding and to student experience,' said Bailey. 'These are three of the most critical data sets for government reporting and for providing the people at Macquarie with the information they need to offer the best services possible and develop winning research, teaching and business strategies.'

Bailey said that as a university, with many people, located in many different places, all using different technologies to access information, Yellowfin's multi-platform, multi-device self-service capabilities were paramount.

'Widespread self-service access to reporting and analytics is vital for our success as a university, and Yellowfin delivers that.'

Bailey also said that Yellowfin offered the features necessary to accomplish Macquarie's goal of 'democratizing data.'

'When we looked at Yellowfin, we saw something simpler than the alternatives. It's highly intuitive and 100 percent Web-based, so it's easier to consume, but without compromise. Ease of use is crucial. The second thing that we saw as a major benefit was the fact that Yellowfin is one of the only BI products on the market with the ability to utilize HTML 5, and therefore receive information on any device or platform - Windows, Linux or Mac; iPad, iPhone or Android - it doesn't matter.'

According to Macquarie University's Information Director, Dr Neil Fraser, using Yellowfin to collate, analyze and report on the university's different data sources, will remove the reliance on spreadsheets, eliminating inconsistencies in organizational data, the uncertainty surrounding data accuracy, and uncover new opportunities.

'Yellowfin gives us a common frame of reference,' said Fraser. 'Everyone is receiving the same information from the same source, analyzed in the same way. Establishing a single source of truth for data within a university is a significant accomplishment, given the complexity and diversity of operations. By breaking-down departmentalized information stores, Macquarie will be able to understand its operations like never before.

'We can now accurately map where our students are coming from and develop effective marketing strategies accordingly. For example we can monitor student intake around the world or traffic flow around the campus. We can even analyze where our funding comes from based on locality - the opportunities are limitless. Yellowfin's geospatial intelligence technology uncovers questions, answers and opportunities at a micro level and at a macro level. Being able to visualize our data is key to discovering these types of problems and opportunities.'

Yellowfin will be progressively rolled-out to a wider population, eventually offering most staff and even students access to a wide range of operational university data, subject to security.

To watch a short video about Datamart and Yellowfin Business Intelligence, click here.

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