Business Intelligence: The Changing Role of the IR Professional

​Business intelligence (the skills, applications, and technologies used to leverage an institution’s data to support data-informed decision making) is growing in popularity in higher education, and IR professionals, who are at the center of their institution’s data needs, will be impacted.  

The Association for Institutional Research conducted a survey in April 2014 to determine institutions’ use of business intelligence (BI) and subsequent changes to IR roles. Overall, 53% of respondents predict that their roles in IR will change within the next three years.

  • Participate in strategic planning: 38% of respondents anticipate that their IR roles will shift toward more strategic planning. One respondent explained: “More strategic, with greater use of existing data collection for accountability measures in institutional decision making. Focus on communicating the importance and meaning of data.”

  • Increased use of analytics: 17% of respondents predict that they will use more advanced analytics in their IR roles within the next three years.

  • Use of more business intelligence tools: 7% of respondents anticipate that their use of BI tools will continue to increase. One respondent explained: “We'll be able to be more helpful. We're the only office that combines the necessary technical expertise with the institutional scope to really make the BI software worth it. I don't think people understand the extent to which such software requires a combination of these factors to really fly.”

  • Unsure: 8% of respondents expect their roles to change over the next three years, but are not clear about how their roles will change.

How do these findings about IR and its changing roles resonate with your experiences? Please share your thoughts and comments below.

This report is the third in a four-part series of the impact of business intelligence on institutional research. The first article, IR and Key Performance Indicators: An Essential Relationship, was featured in the June 2014 issue of eAIR. The second article, Business Intelligence Software: Feedback from IR Professionals, was featured in the August 2014 issue of eAIR.




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