Bryan Fendley, Director of Campus Web Services at the University of Arkansas at Monticello, is one of the 12 higher ed professionals presenting at the 2016 Higher Ed Analytics Conference.
In this 3-question interview, Bryan tells us about the biggest surprise of 2015, the main challenge using digital analytics and what colleges and universities should focus on in terms of analytics in 2016.
1 )What’s the most surprising outcome you experienced in 2015? What did you learn from this experience?
I was surprised when I started using the Google Chrome page analytics extension. Even though I had been looking at similar data through Google Analytics, the extension reminded me just how important visualization is for everybody.
I learned things don’t have to be complicated to be useful. Beware of becoming a data snob, and never underestimate the power of visualization. Screenshots from Google Chrome page analytics also work great in meetings.
2) What’s been the biggest challenge at your school to use digital analytics since you started? How did you deal with it?
Sometimes you really want to show the value of analytics. If analytics are not considered at the beginning of a campaign, you may have trouble creating a key performance indicator tied to the campaign’s objectives. It’s important to recognize when analytics aren’t going to provide useful information. If you have a choice, don’t take on every project. Nobody likes seeing negative results tied to their campaigns. When possible work to create KPIs that are encouraging vs discouraging. You may get invited to work on the project from the very beginning next time.
3) In your opinion, what should your higher ed colleagues focus on in 2016 when it comes to Analytics?
If you’re serious about analytics, invest in training. On the technical side, decide what it is you want to do, and then find someone that can save you time by teaching you how to do it. Know that being a good analyst is more about understanding business needs than it is about being a platform expert. Consider attending a non analytic conference related to a department that you service.