Student Load Planning and other Business Intelligence challenges

I had a meeting with Calumo today, to talk about Business Intelligence (aka BI) and its use in education. Calumo know a lot about this, as they've been providing BI systems across industries, and within education, for the last 14 years. In Australia, their system is used by a number of high profile universities to help them manage their financial reporting (and by inference, their student load planning - which is where BI comes in).

Of course, there's no shortage of systems that will produce reports - but where "reporting" turns into "Business Intelligence" is the point when it delivers real answers to real business problems. For me, as an example, being able to see the financial position of each of your faculty is "reporting" - but working out the optimal number of students for each course (aka Student Load Planning) is "Business Intelligence". And the demand for Business Intelligence is driven by real business problems, which are changing all the time.

Why BI means Student Load Planning - and plenty of other things too

Today, with the impending lifting of the student cap in higher education in 2012, student load planning is going to be an increasing priority - what's the optimum number of students to enrol on which courses? Do you go all out to recruit in every faculty, or are some areas much better to grow than others? Although this problem might seem to be unique to education, in many ways it's identical to problems faced in other industries - and there are probably ideas which can be borrowed from these industries for use in education.

Gartner recently predicted that demand for Business Intelligence systems in Australia will grow by nearly 13%, and that the Australian BI market size here will be $370m in 2011. The reason quoted by Gartner was "end-user organisations largely continued their BI projects, hoping that resulting transparency and insight will enable them to cut costs and improve productivity and agility down the line". Well, that seems no different for education establishments here.

If you want to learn more about BI in education, and you're in or near Calumo's offices in North Sydney at 5:30PM on Thursday 10th March, then the offer of free pizza from Calumo during their BI user group meeting (which is freely open to non-users too) might be a good one. They've got a case study from Alister Cairns  & Steven Gibbs, from the University of New South Wales, talking about how they've used their BI system for budgeting at a cross-faculty level. And there's also Will Holmes à Court, who's the Chief Executive Officer for the National Trust, talking about how they use BI in their not-for-profit area.  I'm sure there will be plenty of ideas that come from those three speakers.

And if you're worried that the room will be full of techno-whizzes that have spent years working with BI systems, and you're going to feel out of place, then just join me down one end of the room, and we can learn the basics together!

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Hopefully, I'll be able to capture some of Alister & Steven's story too, and share some it here after the meeting

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