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UW-IT Insights – Special Edition on UW Profiles

Special Edition eNewsletter sent November 6, 2013

UW-IT Insights eNewsletter Masthead

Introducing UW Profiles and Tableau: Data visualization for decision making


UW Profiles kicks off new era of decision making with validated, accessible institutional metrics

UW Profiles Dashboard To support better data-driven decision making and strategic planning across the University, the “UW Profiles” set of Web-based dashboards was launched on October 14 to provide a dynamic way to easily access, explore and understand basic University data.

UW Profiles provides access to valid, defined data from the Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW), UW’s single source of central administrative data. It allows you to explore and aggregate data at any level of the institution—University, campus, school, college or department. According to President Michael Young, “UW Profiles is a one-stop shop for basic analytics about our students, their academic progress and our University.”

Created jointly by UW Information Technology and the Office of Planning & Budgeting using Tableau data visualization software, UW Profiles lowers the barrier to effective decision making, explained Kelli Trosvig, Vice President for UW Information Technology and CIO. “It offers a broad range of validated information that lets people focus on the meaning and implication of trends, rather than on data accuracy,” she said.

This launch places the UW at the forefront of higher education nationally in using data visualization to provide a core set of key metrics. UW Profiles builds on EDW enhancements that include creating standardized data definitions and integration of data across UW subject areas.

“This is an important step toward uniform, agreed upon institutional data and analytics at the University,” said Paul Jenny, Vice Provost, Office of Planning & Budgeting.

Enrollment data visualizationFirst release provides academic data: UW Profiles currently provides dashboards on academic data, including major enrollments, student credit hours, degrees awarded, student progress toward degree and more. Users can drill down on student demographic characteristics: academic origin, geographic origin and residency and other attributes.

Coming next: Data releases planned for the first half of 2014 include budgets, revenue and expenditures; Activity Based Budgeting dashboards; undergraduate applications and admissions. More areas will be continually added.

Learn more about UW Profiles: Visit the UW Profiles portal (UW NetID required).

Access to UW Profiles: Two steps are required for access to UW Profiles.

  1. You will need access to the EDW. Find out if you are authorized on the Check My EDW Access Web page. If you do not currently use the EDW, go to the Request Access page.
  2. Once you have EDW access, email uwprofiles@uw.edu to request access to the Tableau server for use with UW Profiles.

Note: Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome are the preferred Internet browsers for UW Profiles.

Training: Once you have accessed UW Profiles, you will find an introductory video, FAQ and user’s guide. Information about hands-on training also is available on UW-IT’s Decision Support Workshops Web page.


Tableau: Powerful, easy-to-use data visualization at your fingertips

Dashboard visualization An easy-to-use data visualization tool, Tableau, is now available to the University community, with discounted licenses being offered by UW-IT. With Tableau, you can easily create interactive graphics, reports and dashboards that allow you to ask questions and see and understand data in meaningful ways. After successful completion of a nine-month pilot with 129 participants from 20 academic and administrative units, Tableau was selected as the data visualization tool for use with the Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW). The pilot was a partnership between UW-IT and the Office of Planning & Budgeting.

“Tableau allowed our organization to make quick decisions by crunching large tomes of data into one-page answers,” said Tim Cibula, Director of Finance and Administration for the Department of Ophthalmology and a pilot participant.

The new tool helps you visualize large data sets and communicate important concepts and ideas in a simple and accessible way. Its intuitive user interface allows you to focus on analyzing data, not on learning the tool. Tableau also promotes collaboration by providing access to EDW data in a controlled, secure environment for user groups. Non-technical users can slice and dice data to gain new insights and answer important questions.

Tableau data visualization Tableau was popular with those involved in the pilot early on; license requests increased significantly within the pilot’s first two months. Participants consistently reported that Tableau was easy to use and cost effective, and that they wanted to share data visualizations more broadly.

Tableau for faculty and students at no cost: Tableau is available to faculty and full-time students through the Tableau for Teaching and Tableau for Students programs, and it can be accessed on UWare at no charge. Staff also can purchase individual licenses on UWare. The UW has the highest number of students taking advantage of Tableau for Students worldwide.

Start using Tableau software: Visit UW-IT’s Tableau Web page to learn more, see examples, take a video tour and get training and purchasing information. You can also find out about the UW Tableau user group, on the “Learning” tab.

“Before this, we never had a single cohesive understanding of the School. There were simply so many moving parts that a spreadsheet could never capture our story so simply and clearly.”Ben Robinson, CFO, School of Public Health “Tableau will provide profound benefits to the UW by providing the catalyst to ‘free’ the data—a Data Management Committee goal for several years.”  —  John Drew, Director, Graduate School Computing and Information Resources “This made life a lot easier for repetitive annual reports; it was painstaking and time-consuming creating them in Excel. The process of adding data to reports is SO easy.” —  Elizabeth Litzler, Director for Research, Center for Workforce Development
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