Analytics Labs is an exciting new national analytics experimentation project aiming to refresh Heidi Plus content with insights from a wide range of alternative data sources.

Analysis teams comprising staff from multiple institutions work together to solve problems using well known data sources such as the HESA collections (drawing on a Jisc/HESA data sharing agreement) linked to other educational (cross sector), demographic, employability, economic and geospatial data sets. These are loaded into our controlled analysis environment (data cannot be removed, allowing sensitive / commercially valuable data inclusion). A suite of cutting edge tools, currently Tableau (a market leading tool according to Gartner 2015) and Pentaho Kettle (an open source data transformation tool) is used to carry out analysis on that data. Our analysis teams are able to rapidly produce analyses, visualisations and dashboards for a wide variety of stakeholders from senior staff to students to aid with decision making. They receive weekly feedback and use this for iterative re-development in an Agile Scrum model based on 1 day of effort per person per week. The process results in a suite of polished analysis in around three months.

Outputs will be considered for migration to Heidi Plus or an alternative Jisc beta service, meaning the offer to all our customers, regardless of their capability, is regularly refreshed with new features and data driven insights. Features will include;

  • Accessing a wider range of datasets than is currently possible, for experimentation purposes, safely and affordably
  • Identifying currently unknown trends and insights to provide new evidence base for sound business decisions
  • Innovating through collaborative working, for example across institutional planning functions

The graphic below describes a single cycle of the Analytics Labs process. We run three cycles each year with the next beginning January 2017.


Each cycle begins with a meeting of the outgoing and incoming analysis teams, along with invited experts where we develop user stories (descriptions of real world information needs for decision making). Jisc, HESA and HESPA then secure access to data sources for experimentation purposes. The analysis teams explore data, creating dashboards and visualisations along with supporting narrative in the Jisc Analytics Labs environment. Outputs will be showcased via webinar and considered against our criteria for suitable service delivery via Heidi Plus or a Jisc beta service.

Future developments include exploration of institutional data upload (safely, securely and ethically), supporting improvement in sector efficiency through the submission and analysis of professional services cost benchmarking data.