Data-driven decision-making in Executive Education

Data-driven decision-making in Executive Education

Data-driven decision-making in Executive Education

Dear UNICON colleagues,

As described on the August message shared some weeks ago, UNICON’s 2019 Benchmarking Survey has already been launched and the deadline for member institutions to complete it is September 15th. In addition to the topics historically considered on this survey, this year’s report will include additional and relevant ones related to technology, teaching methodologies, online contribution towards revenue, among others.

While considering the data and insights this survey provides to support analysis and decision-making within our institutions, it is worth to think of the overall role that data and analytics will play on higher education in the near future and the opportunities that arise for Executive Education and lifelong learning under this new landscape.

The Association for Institutional Research (AIR), EDUCAUSE and the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) stood together this year through a statement that reaffirms higher education’s commitment to the use of data and analytics to make better strategic decisions.

As the leaders of three national associations collectively serving nearly 2,500 institutions and representing over 80 percent of postsecondary students in the U.S. (22 million students), they stated that ‘higher education must re-energize its efforts and unleash the power of data and analytics across higher education to support students and institutions.’

In our context, using data to better understand individuals and organizations engaged on our programs and our own operations paves the way to developing new, innovative approaches for improved recruiting, better program outcomes, greater institutional efficiency and cost-containment, and much more.

As these three organizations state, ‘data are an institutional strategic asset and should be used as such.’ This is significantly relevant while considering the opportunities and challenges associated to the lifelong learning perspective that our institutions must strengthen under this new normality.

With the change-making capacity of analytics, we can be moving forward to harness the power of these new tools for the success of university-based executive education in lifelong learning, advance institutional goals, improve quality and efficiency, strengthen outcomes for individuals and organizations engaged in our programs, and enhance lecturing, learning, and advising.

UNICON’s Benchmarking survey represents a useful step on the path that our institutions need to go through in order to take advantage of the power of data to make the decisions and take the actions required to adjust to a new reality.

This new approach to decision-making presents the opportunity to move away from the old paradigm centered on inwardly Key performance Indicators (KPIs), financials, annual plans and quarterly reviews.

Rigour is instead directed towards timely analyses of internal and external data. It is an approach that moves the focus away from what you are doing to what the industry is doing and, crucially, to understanding and anticipating changes in the executive education and lifelong learning landscape in an adequate and timely manner. While considering all of this, and as other institutions are also doing, we just launched an Analytics unit within the group I lead at the University of Chicago to move forward on this need.

Just as it happens overall in higher education, decision-making in Executive Education and lifelong learning is up for a major overhaul and has the opportunity to adjust to this new reality. UNICON’s Benchmarking Survey provides great data and insights as our institutions move forward on this path, so participating on it is a key step under this trend.

I look forward to hear about the active engagement of our member institutions on this survey and learn about the data and insights that will be shared with participating schools later this year!


Marco Serrato, Ph.D.
UNICON 2019-2020 Board Chair
Associate Provost, The University of Chicago



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