GetSmarter uses Tableau to deliver advanced data analytics and tailored reporting for partners


400 reports cut to just 70 dashboards
Advanced analytics informs business decisions
Tailored access to data for partners

GetSmarter, a brand of 2U, Inc., partners with the world's leading universities to select, design and deliver premium online short courses with a data-driven focus on learning gain. 2U is a global leader in education technology and trusted partner of great universities that has created more than 250 digital and in-person educational offerings. Tableau has helped GetSmarter answer increasingly advanced data questions and make more informed business decisions at every level of their business. Tableau’s automated reporting and security functionality also gives GetSmarter and its university partners on-demand access to data from anywhere in the world.

Not only does Tableau provide the deep dive analytics capability we were looking for, it also allows us to create visually appealing, interactive dashboards that quickly answer even the most complex business questions.

Advanced analytics and visualizations inform business decisions across the business

As a digital education company catering to students all over the world, GetSmarter collects, analyses and shares a wide variety of data every day. Prior to Tableau, GetSmarter was using another tool for all of its reporting and analytics tasks. However, while sufficient for basic activities, the company increasingly found the tool couldn’t answer the more advanced business questions being asked of it.

“Our previous reporting tool served us well, but the need arose to move to a more feature rich analytics platform for an ever growing company,” says Gerhard Lennox, Head of Data Systems at GetSmarter. “The functionality and features that we were looking for in a reporting tool included multi layered project functionality, hosting on our own infrastructure in order to control performance, as well as fine grain permission sets for advanced security and decreased data latency”.

Proof of concept was carried out across a variety of leading tools, but Tableau was selected as the ideal solution for several reasons.

“We chose Tableau because of its ability to help us see and understand data so well,” says Gerhard. “Not only does it provide the deep dive analytics capability we were looking for, it also allows us to create visually appealing, highly interactive dashboards that quickly answer even the most complex business questions.”

Gerhard also attributes the move to Tableau to GetSmarter’s acquisition by 2U in 2017.

“2U was already using Tableau, so standardizing across the company post-acquisition made a lot of sense.”

With Tableau in place, departments including finance, marketing, sales, HR, education, and program management can all now self-serve their own analytics needs, create visualizations and answer key data questions.

“Tableau has enabled us to significantly improve accuracy in key areas such as forecasting and planning, course performance analysis and marketing campaign evaluation,” says Gerhard. “As a result, we can make informed decisions and significantly improve our overall business performance.”

Tableau has enabled us to significantly improve accuracy in key areas such as forecasting and planning, course performance analysis and marketing campaign evaluation.

Creation of a single source of truth significantly improves trust in data

Tableau was implemented as part of a wider infrastructure overhaul at GetSmarter post-acquisition, which also saw the construction of a new reporting data warehouse. Tableau integrates directly with this data warehouse, creating a single source of truth across all departments.

“By consolidating our company data into a data warehouse and layering Tableau over the top, everyone has access to the same up-to-date information at all times.”

As a result, overall trust in data has improved throughout the company, which Gerhard says is a real testament to Tableau’s capabilities.

Tailored access to data for partners, delivered through custom dashboards

The GetSmarter product team works with university partners across the world, all of whom share and receive data with and from GetSmarter.

“Tableau’s wide range of flexible permissions allows us to tailor access to data within the platform,” says Gerhard. “This is extremely important as it helps us to secure and monitor access to that data.”

In addition, the ability to create individual sites for different users within Tableau Server allowed Gerhard and his team to provide each university partner with its own site, with custom dashboards to view Tableau reports and analysis in real time.

“Custom dashboards were another big selling point for us,” says Gerhard. “We currently work with a number of university partners, and personal touches like this add a greater sense of professionalism to the work we do and the way we share data.”

Consolidated, automated reporting saves time and improves data accuracy

Prior to Tableau, the GetSmarter product team was tasked with managing over 400 reports on a regular basis, which was time consuming and resource heavy. Now, the same information has been consolidated into just 70 Tableau dashboards, many of which are fully automated from a data perspective and require very little maintenance from the data infrastructure team.

“Tableau’s scheduled extract functionality as well as the direct connection to source has allowed everyone to have access to the latest data at their fingertips at all times.” says Gerhard.