Action Analytics: Making Analytics Strategic, Pervasive and Understandable

We Begin With Several Premises


Colleges and universities are awash in data, much of which is hiding in plain sight.  Campuses need optimized data resources, new analytics applications, and fresh approaches to accountability and decision making if they are to meet the needs of their publics.  They need to leverage these new capacities if they are to innovate and lift out of recession.


So-called “business intelligence” and “analytics” are understood by a small cadre of technologists and institutional researchers – this remains a “geek” issue.  Some practitioners refer to these new practices as business intelligence, higher education informatics, or performance measurement and improvement.  We prefer the term, Action Analytics ®, to describe the next generation of analytics practices, so powerful that they don’t just enable action, they demand it. 

Action analytics have the potential to support new approaches to decision making and accountability, and to guide institutional leadership and campus communities in addressing the challenge of lifting out of recession.  To do so, analytics must be broadly understood, requiring institutions to:

  • raise the “analytics IQ” of campus leaders, staff, and faculty;
  • progressively develop the capacity of end users;
  • proceed on a migration path to “analytics for the masses;”
  • optimize data, information, and analytic resources and practices; and
  • leverage analytics to pursue a mixed strategy of operational efficiency, innovation, reimagining, and new revenues to reclaim financial sustainability. 


This Webinar is designed to address these issues.

Webinar Program


The Webinar program will suggest how institutional leadership can make analytics strategic, pervasive, and understandable.  The agenda shall answer the following questions:


  • What is driving the analytics imperative?
  • What are the analytics challenges facing institutions?
  • What is an institutional map of data sources and analytics?
  • What is the level of readiness for analytics on campus?
  • What are the reporting, query, and analytics needs of campuses?
  • How does one make action Analytics a strategic change initiative?
  • How does one know when analytics are strategic, pervasive, and understandable?
  • How does one leverage analytics to lift a campus out of recession and rediscover financial sustainability?


The Webinar will conclude with a question and answer conversation.

The Presenter:

Donald M. Norris, Ph.D., is President and Founder of Strategic Initiatives, Inc., a management consulting firm in Herndon, Virginia, that specializes in leading and navigating change, crafting and executing strategy, and enhancing enterprise performance. He is recognized as a thought leader and expert practitioner whose clients have included a blue-chip roster of corporations, colleges and universities, and associations and other non-profit organizations.

A Distinguished Consulting Career.  Dr. Norris has been consulting for over 35 years, the last 25 as a full-time consultant and thought leader.  He founded Strategic Initiatives, Inc. 18 years ago. Driven by the emergence of the Knowledge Economy and its higher standards of performance, he has guided dozens of client organizations in realigning their visions, strategies, and plans to face fundamental changes in their industries. Strategies have included inventing groundbreaking approaches to strategic planning, the leveraging of technology to enhance performance and reduce costs, and focusing on value as a key performance indicator.  Recently, he has guided a wide range of community colleges, comprehensive universities, and research universities in assessing analytics needs, crafting analytics strategies and building organizational capacity to deploy and leverage analytics in support of lifting out of recession.

Consulting, Thought Leadership, and Trail-Blazing Publications.  Dr. Norris has blended consulting with thought leadership, as reflected in 20 books and monograph, plus dozens of articles and presentations. His publications are recognized as having shaped thinking and practice in a variety of fields: organizational transformation, distance education and e-learning, and practices and tools to enhance performance and build value.  His most impactful works have been Transforming Higher Education: A Vision for Learning in the 21st Century, A Guide to Planning for Change, Transforming e-Knowledge: A Revolution in Knowledge Sharing, “Action Analytics: Measuring and Enhancing Performance That Matters in Higher Education,” and “Competence 2.0: Education, Training, and Workforce Development for the Post-Recession Economy.”

Action Analytics ®: Measuring and Enhancing Performance in Higher Education.  In particular, Dr. Norris has pioneered new methodologies for measuring and enhancing performance in higher education and demonstrating value to higher education’s stakeholders. He has led the way in leveraging technology to reinvent academic and administrative processes that improve productivity, reduce costs, and foster innovations that improve student success and competitive positioning.  Strategic Initiatives provides Action Analytics ®, a trail-blazing consulting service that enables institutions and their partners and stakeholders to reap the benefits of Web 2.0-enabled analytics that optimize the institution’s data, information, and analytic resources in the pursuit of enhanced performance.  Action Analytics ® provides “analytics for the masses” that enable institutions to extract and utilize data from the full spectrum of data sources (ERP – Student, Finance, Finance Aid, Human Resources, and Advancement - LMS, third-party operational systems, Assessment, Shadow systems, and external data sources) and to “mashup” analytic comparisons that have never been possible.  Action analytics is key to positioning institutuions for success, post-recession.

National Symposium on Action Analytics.  Dr. Norris is one of the co-founders of the National Symposium on Action Analytics, co-sponsored by the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) and the Capella University in September 2009.  He co-authored the White Papers for the Symposium: Linking Analytics to Lifting out of Recession and Why Action Analytics for Huigher Education.  He is leading the formation of a community of practice on Action Analytics and the the implementation of A National Agenda for Action Analytics.

Strategic Planning, Executing Strategy, and Building Organizational Capacity.  Drs. Donald Norris and Nick Poulton recently wrote A Guide to Planning for Change, published by the Society for College and University Planning (SCUP).  This book is the “go-to” resource for planners at all levels and of all types.  In this book, Norris and Poulton provide graphics and examples of how to conduct strategic, aligned, integrated planning that depends on analytics and alignment tools to frame and execute institutional strategies.  Dr. Norris has been working with a wide range of software providers to mashup new, software-enabled solutions that allow institutions to align strategies, actions, resources, measurement, and performance management at the institutional, college, and departmental levels.

Education and Honors.  Dr. Norris received a B.S. degree in Engineering Mechanics and an M.B.A. degree from Virginia Tech. He earned a Ph.D. from the Center for the Study of Higher Education at the University of Michigan. He is a member of the following honorary societies: Phi Eta Sigma, Tau Beta Pi (Engineering), Omicron Delta Kappa (Leadership), Phi Kappa Phi, Beta Gamma Sigma (Business), and Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities.

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