Advancement can learn from corporations’ failure to become data-driven

Organizations large and small have invested heavily in data management systems, BI software, infrastructure, highly skilled data scientists, and tools to gather the data itself. Large corporations have spent like crazy on big data and artificial intelligence, and plan to spend more. Yet they are failing to become data-driven.

A majority of technology and business executives in a 2019 survey reported that they have yet to create a data-informed culture and an organization that competes on analytics. These are players like American Express and General Electric. (1)

What these corporations are discovering is that technology is not the obstacle. People, process, and culture are the obstacle.

Higher education advancement shops are not large corporations but most of us can relate. We are not data-first, evidence-based organizations.

We and other universities have done all the right things. We’ve improved the depth and quality of our data, we track and measure not only our own activity but engagement activities of our constituency, we have brought on talented BI analysts, and we have better tools for data staging, reporting, and analysis.

Like a large corporation, we’ve beefed up operations. But analytics maturity is more than technical capability. It’s time to consider the whole organization.

I define analytics maturity as consistently making strategic decisions that are informed by data. We succeed at working with individual teams on ad hoc, tactical decision-making, and that’s real progress toward maturity. Let’s keep going!

1. “Companies Are Failing in Their Efforts to Become Data-Driven,” by Randy Bean and Thomas H. Davenport, Harvard Business Review, 5 Feb 2019

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