The University of North Carolina System Office sought to modernize the way data are shared among the constituent institutions and move to a flexible platform that would allow for broader access, better reporting, improved visualizations, and deeper insights. An additional challenge was to make the data easy-to-use and customizable for multiple user groups, from systems administrators to academic department heads.
The UNC-System Office envisioned how a state system and all constituent institutions could work together to create and take advantage of a new data and analytics ecosystem. They knew that accomplishing this “would be a heavy lift,” says Dr. Dan Cohen-Vogel, Vice President of Data and Analytics. After 20 years of flat file collection for primarily compliance reporting purposes, there was a strong need to supply decision-makers and external stakeholders with more timely, flexible, and detailed data supporting dashboards and visualizations as well as more sophisticated, policy-relevant and actionable analyses. However, modernizing a system that encompassed a data pool of 233,000 students and 63,000 employees across 17 distinct institutions would be a complex undertaking.
After more than six months of intensive planning, the team began implementation, a process that spanned more than two and-a-half years and involved a staggered schedule to carefully onboard all 16 of the System’s postsecondary institutions. As a testament to Cohen-Vogel and his entire team, the entire implementation occurred on time and on budget. But the greatest yield? The new central warehouse, called the Student Data Mart, is a vast improvement over the previous system— in both data collection and deployment.