FIU tried other business intelligence solutions, but the technical knowledge needed to use them, plus fragmented data sources, made it tricky for staff to monitor factors that influence performance with state funding metrics, and correlate with student success. “Even if you learned the tool, there were so many settings and clicks that you had to do to make the simplest thing,” Dr. Perez added.
With DataRobot extensions for Tableau, FIU’s analytics team could rapidly experiment with different scenarios to identify the best strategies for intervention—all without using a single line of code. Tableau Server connects to and integrates hundreds of data sources with millions of records; it’s refreshed and ready in the first half hour of each day. Campus staff access the predictive analytics through an internal portal. “The timeliness of it is the biggest advantage that we have, and the fact that it’s not a black box. We know what the variables are going into it. And we know which variables are more predictive, whereas with proprietary solutions, you don’t understand what puts a person at high risk and how to fix it,” said Dr. Perez.
Now staff from the advancement to research departments continue business as usual, but share and access information entirely or as part of a specially created extract to suit their needs. Instead of not being able to forecast the impact of initiatives on metrics, FIU now uses analytics to model scenarios and see what will have the best impact. Tableau has bridged data science and business analytics to positively influence the school’s performance with state funding metrics and accelerate FIU’s ranking as one of the top public universities in Florida.
Furthermore, with automated, self-service analytics, FIU’s Analysis and Information Management team eliminated IT contracts with third-party providers to save the university millions of dollars. Doing so has shifted attention to developing new, creative innovations that serve the university better; such as qualitative analytics tools that reflect student feedback or What-If based tools for strategic planning with school rankings.