KM supports the business of higher education
The dashboard format for presentation is an important part of the system's success. "Our users are not highly technical for the most part," Carter explains, "so the visual presentation is very helpful. It lets us quickly see where we are and where we want to be ... Technology is not an end in itself. Our mission is teaching. But if we are not measuring our effectiveness as an organization and figuring out how to improve it, we are missing an opportunity."
More users, more value
The extent to which higher education is using technology to help achieve its goals varies widely. "Some colleges are doing groundbreaking things," says Michael Corcoran, chief strategy officer at Information Builders, "but others do not have the information they need to support their students or their strategic planning initiatives."
Corcoran also emphasizes that the value achieved with BI applications increases when the technology is accessible to more people. "Many organizations relegate this process to a few analysts in the back office," he says, "but that approach does not lead to higher-quality decision-making across a broad group. When the information is available, people use it and you can create a positive change in behavior.
The impact of SharePoint
The proliferation of SharePoint from Microsoft has affected colleges and universities just as it has many other organizations. It offers a common infrastructure at an affordable price, with out-of-the-box capabilities for basic applications that can be readily enhanced by partner products.
KnowledgeLake offers a family of software products for image capture, search and workflow to improve document-intensive applications in SharePoint. At Washington University-St. Louis, KnowledgeLake is being used with SharePoint to meet the needs of numerous departments, including human resources, accounts payable, financial aid and grants management.
"A lot of the ECM solutions were just too expensive for academic institutions," says Bob Bueltmann, executive VP of KnowledgeLake. "With the combination of SharePoint and KnowledgeLake, universities can leverage a few people trained on SharePoint in the IT department, and deploy solutions to all their business departments at a fraction of the cost of a traditional ECM solution."