Traditionally, data warehouses have been seen as complex storage environments and plagued by a one-size-fits-all approach. But that’s all about to change as data warehouses are reimagined to help colleges and universities manage their increasing data volumes and make that data available for myriad projects – including the collaborative work that drives research. These are next-generation data warehouses.
Auburn University is one organization that has used a data warehouse to centralize data and meet its goals. Auburn’s CIO, Jim O’Connor, had a vision to create an effective data governance process, and a component of that included the implementation of a data warehouse.
By centralizing data, Auburn was able to quickly analyze their data and discover insights based on a single source of truth and solve problems that they are facing. At Auburn a data warehouse, when fully implemented, will provide answers to questions like: What is the total operating expense per full time student? Or what percentage of students are not re-enrolling after their first year, for example. The data in the warehouse, when used in conjunction with the recently implemented CRM, will help advisors and professors be better equipped to shepherd students from admissions through to graduation. With the pressures from the COVID-19 pandemic, universities are managing tighter budgets, so it’s important for Auburn to use and analyze the data warehouse to see what the best areas are to invest in.
Tyler Crawford, Data Modeler at Auburn University, Nicholas Speece, Chief Federal Technologist at Snowflake, Brian White, Senior Consultant at Apex IT, and Dan Sandler, Resident Solutions Architect at Snowflake, discussed how building a data warehouse helped Auburn University to create a single source of truth for all data in a recent webinar. With the creation of the data warehouse, there is a central location where users can access timely and accurate data.
According to Crawford, data governance was important to the structure of this project. Governance requires participation and agreement from stakeholders to define a single source of truth, which, in turn, allows for better data-driven decision making. Chief among its virtues strong data governance helps ensure that there are no duplicates of records in the data warehouse As is true across all industries, duplicates can be costly and dangerous in terms of downstream impact, and that is especially true at Universities, namely as it relates to accurate federal reporting. With a quality data foundation, the university can continue to build out their governance model.
With integration of a data warehouse, Auburn University has been able to address some of its most significant financial challenges with a centralized data repository. Auburn was able to successfully meet their initial goals and can now quickly analyze their data to find solutions when questions arise.
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