With the 2017 University of Arizona IT Summit (UA) recently completed, GovDataDownload conducted an interview with Tom Yu, State and Local Government and Education Account Manager for Arizona and Nevada customers.  Tom describes some of the challenges and opportunities faced by higher education organizations that are dealing with unstructured data, providing courses to students around the world, and moving to the cloud—all while staying within budget.

Yu shared that “It used to be that primary data collections came from applications such as school registrations, financial aid, and admissions, all in a basic structured format. But today, more and more universities are taking advantage of unstructured data from applications like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat to help provide an identity to students, better tailor their curriculum, and even promote them to stay in school. In addition, machine data is also being leveraged. Wifi networks now have the capability to analyze foot traffic patterns, dwell times and return visits as students stay connected so that this information can be used by universities to help them understand what students are interested in at different times of the day. This could result in changes to security or knowing how long to keep fast food or libraries open to better serve the students.”

Colleges and universities in the state of Arizona pride themselves on providing effective, technology-powered learning opportunities that prepare students for success in today’s global economy. A few ways they are doing so include partnerships with other leading research institutions and organizations like NASA to provide some of the most innovative opportunities to work and explore careers while still in school. In addition, they are expanding their global reach by turning to video solutions to enhance the learning experience and explain complex concepts to reach students all over the world.

When it comes to IT infrastructure, higher ed organizations, like University of Arizona, are turning to a hybrid cloud approach where they are able to “leverage the public cloud while keeping data secure, no matter where the data is located,” Tom says. Colleges and universities still face many of the same challenges that large organizations and enterprises face when it comes to harnessing the wealth of information made available through structured, unstructured, and machine data. They must be able to sift through the data to uncover new insights and create actionable next steps that keeps them a step or two ahead of the competition – all while keeping the data secure and delivering results under budget.

Learn more about data management solutions for higher ed here.