What Educators Can Learn from Business Intelligence

“Business Intelligence” boils down to the science and tech of operating an enterprise efficiently. Solving problems before they begin, turning chores into automatic sequences and accounting for “background” data to help to paint a more vivid picture overall are just some of the specific avenues of business intelligence. It’s these aspects of B.I. and more which offer educators much in terms of optimum ways to run a classroom or lecture hall. Indeed, educators have a lot they can learn from business intelligence.

When applied to enterprise, business intelligence, breaks down into five categories of service. We will use these categories to highlight how B.I. concepts can be borrowed by educators to achieve similar results in class.


Quantifying the impact a particular lesson has on a class or individual students is not always easy to accomplish. What material grabbed interest, which was most forgotten, and what can be tweaked to cross the threshold between memorable and ingrained knowledge shared during a lesson? Educators can use techniques similar to the key aspects of leading marketing automation software to better understand the way their students are responding to lessons. For example, determining which links in a homework email assignment are clicked and how often, or whether or not online content sees an uptick in traffic. The difference, of course, is instead of determining which leads to follow, educators are deciding which materials to bring back next semester and what parts of the syllabus need replacing.


Having the data doesn’t necessarily mean the path to changing course and replacing position is instantly carved out. Similar to the way in which enterprise must draw conclusions from collected data, educators using business intelligence inspired techniques to gather data on student responsiveness need a way to make sense of it all. Indeed, data analytics are making their way into the classroom. While educators have, in a sense, been analysts for decades (assessing test scores, evaluating student performance, etc) there was more time to manually investigate these trends after class prior to the modern age of overworked teachers. In short, analytics help today’s educators manage their limited time.


It pays to be prepared. Businesses know this and, consequently, place a great deal of importance on reporting – making sure the right information gets to the right people in the right ways within a company. This business intelligence trend easily transfers over to academia if one thinks of administrators as executives and teachers/professors as office workers. Trends for better or for worse ought to be documented – and correlated data added into the mix. Principals and department chairs may not want daily or even weekly updates, but having progress reports at the ready allows for educators to better defend their actions and/or promote change.


The best educators are ones who know the mechanics of passing knowledge onto students extend beyond their own efforts. Support staff, administrators, and fellow teachers all contribute to what happens within a single classroom, even if they aren’t there teaching the lessons. The same dynamic holds true in the business world – and there’s no hesitation on the parts of most enterprises to make sure data is shared amongst staff for the greater good. The same concept ought to be applied within the walls of schools and universities. Education is a team effort, and collaboration is necessary for ensuring the most effective practices are applied while unproductive measures are culled.

Knowledge Management

Similar to the need for analytics to make sense of measurements, collaborative data sharing within education systems needs knowledge management for tangible results to occur. A study of infographics popularity among students, for example, isn’t much without a path going forward for addressing any negative observations. This will undoubtedly require a coordinated effort, which ultimately hinges on a school’s ability to manage the information at its disposal. The concept of effective knowledge management has been a standard pillar of business operations for decades but continues to struggle to get its footing in education. Only when schools and universities can effectively solve problems as a team can they expect to get a handle on all the data they collect on student performance in the modern age.

Business and education have more in common than either wants to admit. Highlighting the similarities are the ways in which business intelligence concepts can help improve academic systems. Applying B.I. to the classroom isn’t a miracle cure for all the problems associated with the world’s academic institutions, but it does help to illuminate the connections between student data and the honest attempts by educators to improve learning standards going forward.

Consideration was received for the editing and publishing of this article

About the Author: Jenna B.

Jenna is a freelance writer who got into blogging in college and copywriting upon graduation. Jenna has usually written about topics that mean a lot to her such as health and medicine when applied to family and loved ones. Jenna is an avid runner as long as it’s not a marathon distance jog! She’s on twitter (she still hasn’t fallen in love with and doesn’t use often) @JennaFromDaBlog!

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