Application of BI Technologies on Universities in General

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  • A brief review of the application of BI technologies on universities in general.

In today’s digital era, both for-profit and non-for-profit organisations operate within a dynamic, highly competitive and technologically turbulent environment. Consequently, the development of strategic agility and business velocity by utilizing the unprecedented breadth of information plays a catalytic role in organisations’ sustainability and prosperity. In organisations’ quest to cost-effectively and rapidly harness data, business intelligence technologies seem to be a propitious tool. Business Intelligence (BI) is defined as a set of technologies, processes and methods enabling users to gather, store, access and analyse data in order to convert it into meaningful and useful information that facilitates business decision making (Negash, 2004). Business Intelligence systems not only can manage all forms of quality data (Dell’Aquila et al., 2008) but they can also generate ready-to- use information at the right time, area and format which leads to timely and more effective decision making and planning (Negash, 2004). Although the concept of BI is not widerspread (diadedomenh h xrhsh tou) for some industries, the term BI emerged fifty years ago (in 1958) by Hans Peter Luhn in an IBM article (Cebotarean, 2011). The most ubiquitous term of Business Intelligence is that suggested by Howard Dresner in 1989 who characterized BI as an “umbrella” concept as it encompasses all the decision making and information systems within all functions of an organization (Cebotarean, 2011). Business intelligence is the evolution of data warehousing, since what differentiates it from the latter is the fact that it provides users with tailored solutions adjusted to the specific business sector, business problems and needs (White, 1999). In corollary, BI technologies facilitate and accelerate access to all forms of up-to-date information and its dissemination among all departments for customised decision making, planning and problems solving by generating an accessible and flexible operating environment (White, 1999).What emerges from this is that BI application benefits the organization both through the development of competitive “intelligence” which gives a valuable insight of the competitive environment of the organization and as a managerial tool for effective management of the organization- either by enhancing its functionality in terms of cost-effectiveness and time-savings or by monitoring and optimizing its business units (Berta, 2012). Many industries have widely deployed BI technologies due to the plethora of advantages that provide. However, in education sector, the paucity of previous BI applications on Universities, the perceived less competition and managers’ perception that activities such as teaching are more essential for University’s well-function decelerated the adoption BI technologies by Universities (Piedade and Santos, 2010). Nowadays though, the wide breath of daily digitized data yielded at every educational activity (Selwyn 2014), the increased competition on the one hand and the decreased number of prospective students due to the increased tuition fees on the other as well as Universities’ funding requirements which accomplishment is depending on University’s data provided to government (HEFCE, 2013) and the high and varied expectations of all stakeholders such as students, alumni and lecturors have rendered BI imperative for Universities’ sustainability.

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