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Two years ago, Laura Landphair, Director of CRM Strategy and IT Strategic Initiatives (now the Executive Director of Information Technology) at the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, had just completed a six-month process of discovery. Her team concluded that their data analytics environment wasn’t giving their college leaders the timely and holistic data they needed to make informed and strategic business decisions.

In response, Landphair’s team launched “Connect360” and targeted graduate admissions data. Their goal was to extract, organize, analyze, and present the data, which comes from multiple source systems, into a unified dashboard.

Landphair sought advice from peer schools. Their recommendation was firm, “Do it yourselves. Central IT isn’t flexible enough for a business school’s unique needs.”

Except analytics projects require a wide range of skillsets. It’s not possible to hire just one person with all the skills needed for such an undertaking. Fortunately, the college’s orientation toward innovation led IT leadership and Andrew Karolyi, Charles Field Knight Dean of the SC Johnson College of Business and Harold Bierman, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Management, to take an opportunity for leadership.

They reached out to CIT to explore a partnership.

SC Johnson College IT brought their business expertise, project management, UX experience, and data analysis skills to the team. CIT staff brought data modeling, infrastructure and validation expertise, Tableau knowledge, and more than twenty years of combined experience building the kind of solutions that the college needed. They began the pilot project hoping to leverage both teams’ skills.

Tony Damiani’s Analytics and Reporting team and Jeff Christen’s Data Warehousing and Integrations team are experienced problem solvers. They built the “plumbing” necessary to pull data in for modeling, restructuring, and optimization. Then, they rebuilt that data into a reportable format. They also created visualizations for easier interpretation.

Together they moved the proof-of-concept solution into production within a year.

The dashboard is currently live. Previously, its information was only available on a weekly or monthly basis. The reports were hand-generated in various formats. Admissions teams needed to manipulate and explain the data before the reports could be useful across programs. Today, the college’s Admissions directors and senior leaders have timely results. This improves communications between all involved.

Phase one of a faculty and teaching dashboard will debut at the end of February.

The next collaboration has tremendous financial and administrative implications. The resource planning dashboard will show course demand and faculty availability. It will determine the number of faculty needed to fill any "gap." This addresses a challenging supply and demand issue in college administration.

The promise of a daily dashboard that can visualize, drill down, and make decisions with transparency has inspired the college. Glen Dowell, Henrietta Johnson Louis Professor of Management, Senior Director of MPS and MBA Programs, and member of the Connect360 Steering Committee said, “This dashboard will give us surgical precision to make decisions about courses and faculty loads instead of the blunt instruments we’ve had in the past.”

Reflecting on the partnership, Damiani shared, “This is a good model for future endeavors. It would have been hard for the college to find and onboard the talent they needed when it was here all along. By collaborating, we’ve all had an opportunity to learn new systems, technologies, approaches, and make new friendships.”

Both groups believe the partnership will only grow stronger alongside the increased demand for the fruits of this collaboration. There’s no shortage of ideas and ways for the college and CIT to each bring their expertise to the table and walk away with solutions that are greater than the sum of their parts.


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