Aug 03 2023
Data Analytics

How Modern Data Platforms Support Higher Ed Data Governance

Colleges and universities can make better use of the data they collect by implementing solutions that offer greater visibility and management.

Higher education institutions are incorporating data analytics to make all kinds of decisions on campus. From maximizing learning outcomes to tracking enrollment and preparing students to enter the Big Data workforce, institutions are using the seemingly boundless information at their fingertips to make smarter choices.

The sprawling size of campus communities provides a wealth of information to be collected, but making sense of that information is another story. Betsy Reinitz, director of the CIO and Senior Technology Leaders program at EDUCAUSE, calls universities “data-rich and information-poor,” a reminder of the opportunity institutions have to be at the forefront of analytics and how difficult those mountains of data can be to interpret.

To enable the effective use of data analytics, many institutions are employing modern data platforms, which provide capabilities such as nearly unlimited flexibility for data collection, clear visibility into data sets and data democratization to make analytics available to users across an organization. But perhaps the most valuable capability a modern data platform can provide is data governance: the establishment of clear rules about the access and use of data and the enforcement of those rules.

“Governance is a cornerstone of the modern data platform,” says Rex Washburn, head of modern data platforms for CDW’s data practice. “If you don’t have data governance, you don’t have a modern data platform.”

LEARN MORE: Check out CDW’s white paper “How the Modern Data Platform Fuels Success.”

Governance Simplifies Compliance with Higher Ed Data Regulations

The governance that modern data platforms offer separates them from legacy data architectures. A modern platform can simplify and unify an organization’s data environment, enabling streamlined governance and security. By providing clear visibility into an organization’s data, a modern data platform enables administrators to precisely control access, making sure authorized users can employ analytics features while securing data from an unauthorized compromise.

Effective data governance also simplifies and enhances compliance with data safety and privacy regulations. In higher education, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act requires institutions to retain certain data, and institutions also must ensure they are complying with a number of other local, state and federal laws. The governance capabilities that a modern data platform offers can be particularly valuable in a frequently changing compliance environment that often challenges institutions to keep pace.

“A modern data platform helps organizations manage their data flexibly,” Washburn says. “As regulations change around data, governance and compliance, they’re able to comply with those regulations.”

LEARN MORE: What is CEDS and what does it have to do with data governance?

Combining the Benefits of Data Analytics and the Cloud

Modern data platforms provide cloud-based management of a college’s data, delivering elastic scalability and modularity. When users can find the data they need quickly and easily, their analytics efforts become less burdensome and more likely to yield the results they’re looking for.

The ability to provide data analytics capabilities to all users in an institution — not only data scientists or IT staff — is an essential element of the modern data platform. But if universities are going to make data available to all users, they must ensure that the right data governance rules are in place and that those rules are enforced. Modern data platforms achieve this objective.

“The technology is so advanced that an IT team can literally open up the entire data store to anybody while making sure they don’t have access to data they’re not supposed to see,” says Christopher Marcolis, head of analytics and data governance for CDW. “It creates a very open and collaborative data landscape where people actually can evaluate things.”

Ultimately, a modern data platform can help an institution align its analytics efforts to its overall strategy, embed analytics into processes and decision-making, and help the university more effectively achieve its goals.

UP NEXT: Learn how to realize the benefits of hybrid cloud environments.

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