A business intelligence framework for sustainability information management in higher education

Brenda Scholtz, Andre Calitz, Ross Haupt
  • International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, January 2018, Emerald
  • DOI: 10.1108/ijshe-06-2016-0118

What is it about?

Purpose Higher education institutions (HEIs) face a number of challenges in effectively managing and reporting on sustainability information, such as siloes of data and a limited distribution of information. Business intelligence (BI) can assist in addressing the challenges faced by organisations. The purpose of this study was to propose a BI framework for strategic sustainability information management (the Sustainable BI Framework) that can be used in HEIs. Design/methodology/approach The research applied the design science research methodology whilst using a South African HEI as a case study. The problems with sustainability information management were identified, and a theoretical framework was proposed. In addition, a practical BI software tool was developed as proof of concept to address these problems and to assist with the management of strategic sustainability information in an HEI. Findings The proposed sustainability BI tool was evaluated through heuristic and usability evaluations with senior management. The results indicated that the usability of the BI tool was positively rated and that the framework can assist in overcoming the constraints that HEIs face in effectively managing sustainability information. Research limitations/implications The research was limited to a single case. However, the theoretical framework was derived from and expanded on existing stakeholder theory, sustainability reporting theory and literature on BI dashboard development. The framework was implemented successfully in the Sustainable BI Tool prototype at the case study, and the results reveal in-depth information regarding information management for sustainability reporting in higher education. Practical implications The Sustainable BI Tool is a solution that integrates data from multiple areas of sustainability and provides a single integrated view of the information to stakeholders. The information is provided through performance dashboards, which provide predictive capabilities to enable management to report on sustainability and determine if the institution is meeting its strategic goals. The lessons learnt can also assist other HEIs considering implementing BI for sustainability reporting. Social implications Improved sustainability reporting for HEIs provided by the BI framework can improve the environmental and social impact of the educational community. Originality/value This study provides the most comprehensive framework for guiding the design of a BI tool to assist in effectively managing sustainability information in HEIs.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr Brenda Scholtz and Brenda Scholtz