Within the analytics group at Blackboard, our mission is to help institutions of higher education to extract value from data. It is easy to think that this is all about products. It’s not.
We hobble ourselves if we think about ‘extracting value from data’ only in terms of product. As a vendor, if we limit our thinking to the things we make and sell, then we actually undermine our ability to fulfill our core mission. Analytics take place at the intersection of information and human wisdom. If we ignore the human side of analytics, the side that makes information meaningful and puts it into action, then we are not engaged in analytics at all. If we develop the most amazing and ‘delightful’ algorithms and visualizations, but ignore problems like technology adoption and data literacy, then we fail before we begin.
Tomorrow marks the beginning of the first annual Blackboard Analytics Symposium. In so far as it is for existing Blackboard Analytics customers only, it is a user conference. Too often, however, user conferences are not about users at all. They are product conferences. Where the Blackboard Analytics Symposium is unique is that it is born out a recognition that supporting community is as important as the products we create. If we are truly motivated by a desire to help people to extract value from data, then working with customers to ensure that they are effective in the adoption and use of our products is as important as the products themselves.