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CASE STUDY - Adopting an Enterprise Business Intelligence Standard to Share Information on Students, Admissions, and Enrollment

Commentary by Daniel E. Thomas, Director, Applications Development, University of Miami

The University of Miami ( is a private educational institution with an enrollment of 15,600. The students are enrolled in 120 bachelor, 108 master, 49 doctoral, and 2 professional programs in the university’s five campuses. To create an effective and diverse educational environment, the university needed a uniform way to manage and access student information from the admission process through graduation.

In 1997, the University of Miami selected MicroStrategy for its BI needs, and today it has deployed this platform across the institution to anchor multiple BI applications. End users are able to access a single BI interface that reaches a number of data marts across the university. These data marts are available to all departments that might have an interest in either prospective or current students. Most users have access to prompted grid reports to ensure personalization and data security. Since the user base has grown more proficient with the product, the queries are more sophisticated, including predictive analysis and trending.

The admissions department relies on MicroStrategy to track the qualifications and diversity of each incoming class. As a result, admissions offices can segment the prospective student population to more effectively customize its interaction with students in a particular demographic or qualification group.

Building classes that meet admission goals depends on predicting and monitoring acceptance rates based on offers. The MicroStrategy tool allows for clear insight into current numbers and allows for comparisons to previous year totals.

In addition, the financial aid area can analyze student data to determine the number receiving aid and the type of aid. This can be critical data in both recruitment and retention; students’ ability to finance a college education significantly affects their academic performance and the continuation of their studies.

The University of Miami also created a human resources data mart on the MicroStrategy platform to meet its human resources needs. The university employs more than 16,000 faculty and staff who work with students. Their hiring, professional progression, and achievements affect both the university as well as the students.

The purpose of HR analyses is twofold: to aid in finding and retaining the best talent and to serve as a feedback mechanism to the university and the federal government. The HR data marts can be used to analyze the recruitment and retention of the most talented professionals in each field, giving the university excellent faculty and staff, as well as a good reputation in professional circles.

The human resources department must also report on affirmative action and equality to the federal government. Users can analyze the hiring, career progression, and compensation of individuals from different groups to identify strengths or weaknesses. The university sends the results to the government to comply with federal mandates, but it also uses this data to help attract and retain qualified individuals from different backgrounds. Users can view trends and use predictive analytics to see what attracts these individuals.

Since implementing MicroStrategy, the human resources department has been able to run queries faster and analyze data in more ways than before. The new methods of analyses allow the department to look for trends, predict needs and opportunities, and plan strategies to meet the needs of these turbulent economic times.

New data marts are being developed to support space management activities and benefits administration. Reporting for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) utilizes many structures already available in the data marts. Future initiatives include broader tools for supporting financial aid and the budgeting process.

For a free white paper on this topic, click here and choose the title “Evolving from Departmental Islands of BI to a Cohesive Enterprise BI Environment.”

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