Remove the Taboo from Centrally Managed Visualization Tools – Free the Data!

Principal Analyst

Top of Mind: Remove the Taboo from Centrally Managed Visualization Tools
Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

Do institutions provide centrally supported visualization platforms? Our work with higher education tells us that most institutions that have been successful in democratizing data analysis have made this move by using modern toolsets. (What are the modern toolsets? Check out our research!) Even as recently as five years ago, visualization tools that were easy to use (and easy for individuals to buy) were more prevalent than institutional support for this critical functionality. Individuals were adopting tools like Tableau and Power BI while central IT supported traditional reporting tools or clunky enterprise tools that only IT could operate.

What started as a revolution in visualization has become mainstream, with a variety of tools available, along with visualization functionality that is now available as embedded tools in modern transactional systems. Given this broadened playing field, central support for tools that provide governed data sources is a key component in advancing data management strategies. It allows individuals throughout the organization to creatively analyze data without sourcing the data (or at least all of the data) or the tools themselves, freeing up more time and money for the analysis itself.

Long gone are the days when all data analysis itself needed to be centralized within a small team of analysts with deep technical skills. (The need never really existed, but the technology often forced this model.) For complex analyses and formal external reporting, a center of excellence model can serve institutional analysts well, but for most day-to-day discovery and decision making, well-groomed data sources in an easy-to-use visualization platform can be a valuable tool for many faculty and staff to use in their daily work. For the one or two roles on campus for which specific tools might be needed for a specific task, these standard tools can be augmented.

A successful analytics program requires a community approach for building and optimizing central assets for the institution. This community can enhance cross-functional knowledge and build analytical skills to multiply the value of central resources. A common barrier to a community approach is data siloes that have been built up over time by technical, organizational, and political barriers. These siloes are often justified with data security concerns, but a well-managed identity and access management program can reduce these concerns by ensuring individuals can only access authorized datasets. The benefits of information sharing across departments can far outweigh the risk when appropriate guard rails are in place.

Visualizing a modern data management future for your organization—built with modern, well-managed tools and well-groomed data sources that free the data for analysis and decision making across the institution—is not a pipe dream. It is a rational goal that can be achieved through building the strategy, technical infrastructure, and community of practice needed to advance abilities and opportunities in multiple areas of the institution. One key to success is viewing the use of a centralized set of tools as freeing, not constricting. In an era of plentiful mature visualization solutions, spending time and energy maintaining multiple tools (and arguing about which is the best) can distract from the time used to create knowledge. There are other components and tactics, of course, in the broader data management space, but eliminating a technology free-for-all in the name of allowing choice is a big step forward. Being bold with a community-based, centrally-supported vision can accelerate progress toward a modern data ecosystem that produces results for a broad group of institutional data consumers.

Share Article:

Principal Analyst
Dave Kieffer spearheads research focused on finance, and HCM applications, data management and other critical higher education technologies at Tambellini Group. He brings more than 30 years of creating, implementing, and managing enterprise-class applications in higher education. His experience includes all levels of applications development and management in higher education. Among other things, he has been responsible for ERP implementations, mobile, and web development, application architecture and integration technologies.

Other Posts From this Author:

Realize Your Institution's Goals Faster with The Tambellini Group®

Higher Education Institutions


Solution Providers & Investors

market insights

Become a Client of the Tambellini Group.

Get exclusive access to higher education analysts, rich research, premium publications, and advisory services.

Be a Top of Mind Podcast featured guest

Request a Briefing with a Tambellini Analyst

Suggest your research topics

Subscribe to Tambellini's Top of Mind.

Weekly email featuring higher education blog articles, infographics or podcasts.