AWS Public Sector Blog

OSU-OKC upskills its workforce and drives real-time decision making with live reporting and analytical modeling

OSU OK logoOklahoma State University in Oklahoma City (OSU-OKC), a two-year, technical-focused college, has historically faced challenges with consistent reporting, database management, and analytics. Technology generalists hired to do these tasks required extensive training to successfully extract data from traditional student information systems, manipulate data for state and federal compliance reporting, and generate limited campus reporting for operational or academic program review and analysis. Staff turnover and the ensuing loss of knowledge was a source of reporting inconsistencies.

Previously, we relied on cumbersome systems or time-honored structures to meet compliance and effectiveness measures. We either deployed expensive, complex data modeling software systems or had staff manually manipulate data points into meaningful information. Neither approach was cost effective, nor sustainable for a two-year college. To support a new approach, we needed to develop adaptable, analytical modeling. We wanted to be able to make timely, reliable, data-driven decisions responsive to student success, employee excellence, and community relevance. To accomplish this goal, we turned to Amazon Web Services (AWS).

To restructure our data reporting capabilities, we tapped into our existing talent pool. Initially, many of our employees had limited knowledge of reporting and database management, but were open to new possibilities. We needed to identify secure, customizable systems that would be compliant and capable of driving change. We searched for a cost-effective solution with a reasonable learning curve to upskill our university’s workforce.

We identified Amazon QuickSight and immediately determined that its functionality and ease-of-use would help us reduce the time required to train staff and develop and deploy reporting. Amazon QuickSight provided us with an affordable and timely path to develop functionality equivalent to Tier-1 research institutional reporting and dashboarding. We can produce market-leading data visualizations, which can help us gather insights to inform data-backed campus decisions.

Within days, in collaboration with our AWS Solutions Architect, we were pulling data from a convoluted repository into Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3). The ability to store and retrieve volumes of information on a secure and scalable infrastructure is what initially attracted OSU-OKC to AWS. Within four months, we created a functional data lake that contains nearly one million lines of data. We have automated our largest compliance reports, which includes 24 datasets and over 500,000 lines of data.

In this short development time, we have 60 report users that support over 100 degree majors. Previously, the time to produce each one of the degree reports was nearly a week. Thanks to line-level security offered by Amazon QuickSight, data is now immediately accessible and the university maintains privacy required by Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and other compliance mandates. Being able to set individual parameters allows users to change – with just one click –the entire dashboard and obtain information needed. Key-decision-level data now displays in live dashboards where executives can drill down to find performance and key competitive insights.

For the first time, we now have a full view of our 60-year enrollment history. Long-term enrollment fluctuations and diversity trend data coupled with external employment and economic data has allowed us to create targeted strategies to increase student completion and retention. And, OSU-OKC entered publically available comparative data from 30 of the state’s universities. Using Amazon QuickSight, competitive insights from this data are driving programmatic decisions that were previously not possible. This ease-of-access to insights allows leadership to provide faster market-based curriculum and operational decisions to meet student, industry training, and critical occupational needs.

These are exciting times for my administration and for the students and community we serve. Amazon QuickSight is at the center of OSU-OKC’s transformation. Having the ability to drive real-time market change affordably and securely with reliable reporting and information has transformed the way we make decisions and will help us create the workforce of the future.


Read more stories about workforce development, analytics, and data lakes on AWS. And check out the AWS Workforce Development Hub.