2017 HEDW Survey of Top 10 Issues

by Hank Childers, University of Arizona

We recently surveyed HEDW’s membership to determine the top 10 topics of interest.  There were over 300 responses.  The survey was similar to the one we did the year before, which allows us to compare the results.  Aaron Walz of Purdue University and I will present an analysis of the results at the 2017 HEDW Conference at the University of Arizona.  But here’s a sneak preview of some of the headlines.

Data Governance Is #1 for the second straight year

57% of respondents placed this in their Top 10.  The pattern seems clear and compelling.  But what’s the message?  Is this about data quality, which was independently ranked #3?  Or about data definitions, which was independently ranked #4?  Is this about the need to have data governance, or about how to go about actually doing it successfully?  Considering that the cluster of data governance, data quality, and data definitions occupies three of the top four spots, this is a very strong signal!  It seems like a ripe topic for presentations this coming April.

Data Governance is only Top 10 topic named by more than 50% of respondents

As strong as the signal around data governance seems to be, it’s interesting to note that it’s the only topic to meet the 50% threshold.  This speaks to the differences among us.  Perhaps this is related to different institutions being at different points in their evolution, or perhaps different priorities operating at different institutions.  Or perhaps half the institutions have mastered data governance, and the rest of us haven’t!

Student Success Climbs to #2

This is not a surprise, since it was #3 last year.  It is the only issue in the “Higher Education Issues & Opportunities” category to make the Top 10.  And that was true last year as well.  It was selected by 47% of the respondents, so it’s close to that 50% threshold.  And given the visible attention being paid in general to student success by our institutions this is not a surprise.  The next highest ranked item in that category was Learning Analytics at #16.

No People topics in the Top 10

No topics in the category called “People, including hard skills, soft skills, & marketplace” made it to the Top 10.  The highest was Data Modeling at #15.  Maybe we don’t like people.

Top 12 is the new Top 10

Similar to what happened last year, there was so little difference between #10 (30%), #11(29%), and #12 (28%), that we expanded the list from 10 to 12, based on the natural break in the data.  (#13 was 23%.)


Mobile comes in dead last

Mobile came in as #51 out of 51, with 5% of the respondents naming it as an issue.  Not that long ago it would likely have been much higher up.  Things do change.

Speaking of maturity

We will soon be contacting the membership inviting HEDW members to participate in a survey based on the BI Maturity Model.  We did this survey three years ago, and we judge it a good time to do it again.  It should be very interesting to see what has changed and what hasn’t on an overall basis, and also for those individual institutions who participated in the earlier survey to assess their progress.  Aaron Walz and I will also report on our analysis of these results at the HEDW meeting in April 2017.  More to come on this.


(November 30, 2017; hankc@email.arizona.edu)