Business intelligence: Information is golden — if you know what to do with it

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By Tatiana Kabakova

Back in the 1980s, a new way of doing business evolved as corporations began collecting, combining, and crunching data from sources throughout their enterprise. Their goal was to improve the bottom line by discerning hidden patterns and thereby improving the decision making process. Three decades later, this goal has expanded to include increased student achievement and other data-driven decision making processes.

In the past year, UAB has produced groundbreaking discoveries and innovations, delivering on the promise of “knowledge that will change your world.” The university’s overarching mission pillars embody the commitment to educate, advance research and discovery, care for the sick, respond to the needs of the community and use knowledge to establish Alabama as a progressive economic center that can change the world.

None of this is possible without cutting edge technology and advanced business analysis, which is one of the seven UAB IT strategic imperatives.


 On the student side, UAB IT currently has dashboards available for the following content areas:

  • Enrollment
  • Retention and graduation
  • Credit hour production
  • Admissions funnel
  • Active course registration
  • Graduating student career plan survey results

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Each of the dashboards has drill-down capabilities that allow users to focus and dissect delivered information specific to their area of interest.

The census enrollment dashboard image shown below provides a good example of UAB diversity trends for the past five years.

Jon Corliss, director of business intelligence in the UAB Office of Institutional Effectiveness, and his team are working tirelessly on supporting institution-wide initiatives concerning faculty and student engagements and student recruitment and retention. 
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The Office of Associate Vice President for Development and Alumni is another BI (business intelligence) consumer. Cognos allows them to focus on two additional institution-wide initiatives: alumni engagement and campaigning for UAB.

In one month, 73 Cognos users utilized dashboards and reports, delivered by the business intelligence department and the Office of Associate Vice President for Development & Alumni, either to justify decisions or look for business opportunities.

The Director of Human Resources Information Systems, Rahul Thadani, and HR Administrative Systems manager, Jason Womack, reached out to UAB IT recently.  They indicated significant interest in using the Cognos platform for their BI needs.

Soon HR and UAB IT will be able answer questions such as: Which program is successful that prepares diverse students to lead, teach, provide professional services and to become the prominent scholars and societal leaders of the future? Which department is efficiently utilizing resources to stimulate innovation?

The future looks bright when UAB fosters an institutional, data-driven, decision-making culture that allows UAB to make informed and optimal decisions. 

Last modified on September 30, 2015