FAS and Data to Insights (D2I) Initiative to Generate Data Insights for Decision Makers

Benjamin Franklin once said that nothing is certain except death and taxes. In our modern world, another certainty to add to the list is data. We create data, consume it, report on it and protect it. Now thanks to the Data to Insights (D2I) Initiative, UT Austin will also be able to analyze and use that same data to inform strategy and decision making at the highest levels.

Co-sponsored by Sharon Wood, executive vice president and provost, and Darrell Bazzell, senior vice president and chief financial officer, D2I is led by Brad Wheeler, chief strategist to the president for D2I and visiting professor at the McCombs School of Business.

“D2I is a four-year initiative that will work to integrate modern, cloud-based and scalable technologies, analytics and broad engagement to strategically support the university’s core mission while helping to connect data to decision-makers at all levels at UT,” said Wheeler.

As noted by the executive sponsors, D2I is a collaborative initiative that is drawing technical expertise from the provost’s portfolio and from FAS divisions including Information Technology Services (ITS), Enterprise Business IT Solutions (eBITS) and business expertise from Accounting and Financial Management (AFM), Human Resources (HR), Facilities Planning Management (FPM) and the Office of Campus Safety (OCS).

“In order to achieve the vision of D2I, we needed to create a team that merges expertise from many divisions at the university,” said Wheeler. “Our team includes former members from Institutional Analytics and Information Quest (IQ) along with new roles to be filled by other highly experienced UT staff and additional hires that are needed to meet the growing needs for enterprise-level data and analytics at the university.”

According to Wheeler, units won’t have to move team members to D2I to have a seat at the table.

“We are committed to continuing to partner with collaborators and stakeholders across the university to shape the future of data and analytics on campus,” said Wheeler. “We recognize that engagement, change management, inclusion and compromise will be essential to the success of D2I and the associated services and projects we anticipate as products of the initiative.”

D2I’s first InfoShare in March was an example of working with eBITS and then partnering to share the technical insights of that work with over 150 staff from across the campus.

Heather Hanna, eBITS interim director, along with other data and system owners within FAS, have been partnering with D2I and ITS to ensure data from systems like Workday, our human resources and payroll system, can be effectively leveraged.

“eBITS has been an early partner with D2I working to provide data for several dashboards and views that can serve as examples of human resources and payroll data,” said Hanna. “The InfoShare that we cohosted with D2I was a good example of effectively engaging the stakeholders who are experts on different aspects of business and data across the portfolio.”

Trice Humpert, assistant vice president for Information Technology Services, is one of several FAS leaders deeply involved in partnering with D2I.

“Our work with D2I is an excellent example of our FAS Core Values of teamwork, innovation, stewardship and service at work,” Humpert said. “With D2I, we are all working toward a more modern, more secure and more useful data landscape without disrupting the important work in both academic and administrative units. While change is on the horizon, that horizon is looking far more efficient and effective due to our ability as a university to come together as a community of analytical, functional, technical and business experts all working toward the same goal of supporting the growth and excellence of our university.”

According to Humpert, while the Information Quest (IQ) team has moved from ITS to the D2I initiative, the work of supporting our legacy data systems such as the data warehouse, Cognos and IQDirect among others will continue.

“Eventually, the services provided by these systems will be replaced by the new UT Data Hub that is a core piece of the D2I initiative,” said Humpert. “However, it will be several years before these systems are fully retired. During the intervening time, ITS will be working with D2I, our FAS leadership and colleagues and our clients and customers to ensure that the transition to the new D2I systems and tools is positive and inclusive.”

To learn more about D2I, visit their website, subscribe to their updates list or join one of their monthly info share events with the UT community.