Service Spotlight: Data Visualization and Analytics Help Leaders Make Informed Decisions

Data visualization. Analytics. Cloud computing.

Chances are you’ve heard one or more of these terms, though you may not see how they relate to your work. If you are like many users, you just want technology to work, and don’t feel the need to overthink how it works – as long as it works.

The Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) has numerous IT experts who are interested in how technology works – which is great news for everyone who isn’t interested. Our teams are not only interested in how data analytics work, but also what data you, as a user, need to analyze to accomplish your goals and measure progress.

Our data analytics teams help keep Ohio State up-to-date with developing data analysis trends. These teams are working on a number of projects that are integrated with the Enterprise Project, but there are also other data analytics initiatives. This work is critical as professionals – administrative and academic alike -- increasingly need to make knowledge-based decisions by drawing conclusions that are rooted in a clear understanding of facts.

To make data more useful, administrators need data sets that can be trusted and information that is presented in a sensible context.  Data governance is one way we ensure the data is reliable. This team enhances the value of the university’s data by setting policies, procedures and structures that will improve the integrity, availability and usability of the data for analytics and decision support while also managing privacy and security.

Next, we need to give decisions makers a clear picture of the health of their academic department or business unit.  Our teams are working to provide tools for presenting data in dashboards, visualizations and other analytic formats that will highlight key departmental data, trends, and insights. New tools also will mature our data analytics service to allow for more precise scalability – small projects will be easier and less costly than large projects.

Making data easier to interpret often means incorporating data visualization. Visualization software packages like Tableau allow non-technical users to create interactive reports that pull data from multiple sources. The idea is to allow decision makers to act on the challenges they face confidently, by allowing each of them to view data in a context that more clearly reveals trends and what they mean.

Cloud computing also allows more data services than we’ve ever had in the past. Solutions for cloud-based clusters are offered through numerous vendors such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft powered by the Open Source platform of Apache Hadoop. We’re still working to find the right mix of vendors and technology that will offer us the best tools to suit our needs.

Watch for future articles to learn more about how Business Intelligence, Analytics and Reporting developments might help your teams meet its data analytics goals in the future. For more information in the meantime, contact BI, Analytics & Reporting Lead Lonnie Morgan via email or by phone at 614-688-1041.

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