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  • Writer's pictureHelen Kyianovska

Why Does Education Need Business Intelligence?

Updated: Jan 31, 2022

An illustration for AI in Education

Companies from many industries embrace business intelligence (BI), trying to make data-driven decisions. Using a BI tool today is becoming a must rather than a curiosity. The global business analytics software market was valued at almost $54 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach $120 billion by 2027.

The education industry may be adopting this technology at a more measured pace than others. One can hardly overestimate the importance of business intelligence solutions, and this is true for e-learning as well as traditional offline education. In this article, we will review the benefits and challenges of using BI in education. We will also provide a glimpse of the future of such instruments in education. Read on to learn more!

Why is applying business intelligence in education important?

Educational institutions collect tons of data including grades, enrollment records, information about staff, etc. However their administrations have the potential to use this information more broadly and effectively.

Recent studies suggest that education lags behind other industries in the adoption of business intelligence tools. As a result, schools, colleges, and universities miss opportunities to improve their operations, student and staff performance and boost revenues.

The 2021 report by Dresden Advisory services shows that educational organizations have one of the lowest BI penetration levels

“The information systems administered by the universities store a large volume of data on the socio-economic and academic variables of the students. In the university field, these data are generally not used to generate knowledge about their students, unlike in the business field, where the data are intensively analyzed in business intelligence to gain a competitive advantage. These success stories in the business field can be replicated by universities through an analysis of educational data”, writes William Villegas-Ch, Professor of information technology at Universidad de Las Américas, in his article on the topic.

Educational institutions face some obstacles on their way to data-driven decision-making. The information collection and storage may be incomplete, insufficient or inefficient.

Administration offices may have attendance and enrollment statistics and only the teachers see the test scores but they do not all see all of the data. It’s hard to get a bigger picture under such conditions. Educational organizations may lack analytical instruments and a usable interface to get clear and actionable reports. Training in both access and the value of analyzing these data need to be recognized and considered within a change management plan.

Implementing business intelligence solutions in schools, pre-schools, and higher education can change the situation. Such a step urges organizations to channel all their information into a data warehouse.

As a result, they can manipulate it quickly and easily. Intuitive and clear-cut dashboards visualize all KPIs in one place, enhancing data visibility. Thus, educators can connect the dots and get more insights. All in all, with business intelligence tools, educational institutions can get the maximum return on their data.

Business intelligence use cases in education

An example of the data model for a BI system at the university

Using BI in pre-schools, schools, colleges, and universities allows educators to make data-driven decisions. Which tasks do such tools help to solve? Let’s have a look at examples of business intelligence in education.

Improving student experience and performance

BI tools allow educators to track academic performance effectively, intervening if and where necessary at scale. Such software makes spotting trends in subject preferences and performance easier. Thus, the staff can better tailor the curriculum to enhance student results and satisfaction.

Administrators can measure performance by subject on different levels — individual, class, year. Thus, teachers and professors can detect weaknesses and correct programs. BI software can help assess the effectiveness of additional assistance or new content delivery methods. Moreover, behavioral indicators monitoring (attendance data, discipline records) will help determine whether any intervention is required.

“A college or school can implement an attendance dashboard within hours – providing the essential view of student attendance and work appraisal that can provide an early warning of potential drop-out. Rather than waiting for termly or year-end reports, leveraging real-time information, a red flag on the dashboard can prompt tutors or course leaders to intervene and understand why that student is struggling”, says Robert Dagge, Managing Director at Dynistics.

Enhancing administrative efficiency

Business intelligence solutions for education bring benefits not only to the teachers and students but also to administrators. For instance, with their help, educational institutions can:

  • track class sizes and enrollment figures to bolster resource planning;

  • manage spendings on extracurricular activities (cleaning, landscaping, security, sporting events, etc.) and contracted services more easily;

  • analyze funds by faculty to spot budget shortfalls or surplus. The fundraising activities can be planned accordingly;

  • better understand the effectiveness of marketing activities.

Boosting workforce management

BI can also be instrumental in tracking teacher’s workloads to ensure they are not overloaded. With their help, educational institutions can watch for students/teachers ratios to design hiring and student enrollment plans.

Monitoring the popularity of elective courses for some time can assist with creating a curriculum. On top of, analyzing average test scores by subject, year, or teacher can help to identify trends in teachers’ performance

Challenges of implementing business intelligence tools in education

AI training application illustration.

Employing BI has its merits, but there are also some obstacles on the way. In this section, we’ll discuss the challenges you are likely to face.

Define the correct KPIs

Even the most sophisticated dashboards will be of little use if they present irrelevant figures. An educational institution collects a lot of information, but some aspects are more important than others.

Before starting with BI tools, school, college, or university staff should define the list of important KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). Thus, they will be sure they measure the right thing.

Combine data sources

Multiple sources of data are useful as long as they can be united into one consistent flow. The information may have different bases, such as being collected by year, class, subject, or teacher. Besides, there is a problem of varying data formats, which may depend on a source.

You’ll also have to decide how to process missing or false values. Before using data to procure insights, you should organize its collection and storage according to a clear-cut scheme.

Prepare data for visual analytics

Having the required data doesn't mean you can build the graph you want right away. It might be convenient to collect and store it in a form, which is not suitable for particular visualization.

You may have to switch rows to columns, split an indicator by equal intervals, calculate some new metric, etc. Even using some smart business intelligence software for edtech, you will have to build bridges between your data and beautiful dashboards.

Provide actionable insights

Modern BI tools offer a dazzling array of indicators and graphs. However, they are the only means to an end of providing the right people with the right information in an understandable way. Administrators and teachers may require quite different dashboards.

The level of access and detail may depend on the user’s standing in the organizational hierarchy. Each user of a BI tool should understand the implications of the information it provides and how to act upon it.

The future of business intelligence in education

The illustration from the 2020 AI trend report.

We’ve mentioned some examples of business intelligence in education. Nonetheless, its full potential is yet to be harnessed. In the years to come, the number of educational institutions which embrace BI systems will grow and the positive impact on education and students will be profound and significant.

In particular, the future of business intelligence in higher education and schools and pre-schools is linked with personalized learning. With the help of advanced analytics, educators will adopt multiple forms of content and its delivery based on students’ learning preferences. BI can help to understand better how learners access course materials.

With advanced analytics at their fingertips, educators will look for more factors that influence student outcomes. For instance, they could track and analyze the use of libraries and its correlation to the grades.

Using business intelligence in higher education, schools, and pre-schools, administrators can bring resource optimization to new heights including tracking energy consumption across campus. As a result, they could spot buildings that consume too much energy and seek ways to boost their efficiency.

How can preschool education benefit from BI: Menklab’s vision

Menklab has already developed and is maintaining some complex software solutions for education. We’ve created a Nurture application, arming early care facilities with a tool for convenient communication and coordination between teachers, parents, and administrators. Parents in more than 30 countries use this app. Now we are looking for ways to use business intelligence for pre-school education.

In particular, we believe that such institutions would benefit from tuition fees and salary benchmarking. Training new teachers is time-consuming and expensive, so retaining them is important in managing expenses and maintaining profitability.

Thus, knowing whether you pay your staff too much or too little is essential. At the same time, understanding the trends in the local market will help to charge parents the right fee.

As the data accumulates, educational organizations can do even more sophisticated analysis. For instance, you can analyze a demographic map to look for a large group of families with kids clustered in an area with no daycare. If you manage to find one before the competition — that is an opportunity to spread your network and make your company more successful.

Let’s shape the future of education together!

There are numerous benefits of business intelligence for higher education, as well as other educational institutions. Teachers can use the BI tools to track students’ performance and spot areas for improvement in their courses. Administrators can manage their resources more carefully, planning curricular and extracurricular activities. Balancing hiring and student enrollment improves teachers’ experience, boosting retention. The increasing number of educational institutions will grasp those advantages. Therefore, the demand for BI will soar.

Creating and implementing new business intelligence tools in education is much easier with a reliable partner. Menklab’s team has the skills and experience required to manage complex projects in edtech. We will use all our expertise to overcome any challenges you might face.

Contact us! Let’s discuss how to make your ideas come true!

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