10 Times the Analysis in Half the Time, with Half the Staff

Founded In 1865, Cornell University is a privately endowed university, a member of the Ivy League/Ancient Eight, and a partner of the State University of New York. Cornell has been described as the first truly American university because of its founders’ revolutionary egalitarian and practical vision of higher education, and it is dedicated to its land-grant mission of outreach and public service. With fourteen Colleges and Schools, Cornell serves over 2,700 faculty and over 20,000 graduate and undergraduate students.

Cornell University began using Tableau in late 2007 as a reporting tool that would allow its college deans to better track KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). At that time it purchased one Tableau Server and 20 Desktop licenses. The Ivy League university has been so impressed that it has since increased its Tableau footprint to two servers and 150 desktop licenses. Today, more than 600 employees use Tableau to do all manner of analysis: from dissecting the student applicant pool to managing contributor relations, from evaluating risk to analyzing university expenditures, and from visualizing faculty salary statistics to keeping track of which students are in what classes.


Note: Data has been redacted to protect confidentiality.

Cornell is doing all of this faster and more efficiently than they ever thought possible. “We produce ten times the analysis in half the time, with half the staff,” said Cindy Sedlacek, Director of Data Administration for the university’s College of Arts and Sciences.

"Beyond our expectations"

Cornell uses Tableau to meet the needs of both highly sophisticated technical workers and hundreds of other employees who rely on the software everyday to answer important questions but whose jobs don’t revolve around data management.

“Adoption of Tableau for a variety of our business needs has gone beyond our expectations,” Cindy said.

For example, Cornell receives tens of thousands of applications every year.

“We need access to this information quickly and easily,” Cindy said as she opened a Tableau server dashboard. Within seconds she had drilled deep into a database that held all manner of applicant information, from SAT distributions and GPA to demographic and geographic stats.

“Look, that’s interesting,” said Cindy, looking at a state’s application pool. “Here we accepted a larger percentage of (the gender) but we received more applications from (the other gender). I can easily spot this because of Tableau’s robust, built-in mapping capabilities that allow you to plot your geographic data on US, world, and even custom Cornell maps.”

"We had a seamless and robust rollout"

“There are tools that are beasts in the BI world,” said Cindy. With Tableau there simply weren’t implementation problems. “We were able to easily integrate with our single sign-on mechanism, deploy metadata quickly and allow report developers direct publishing access (no need for a publishing “middleman” with Tableau). Also rollout was not a challenge because the software was so intuitive – trainings have been minimal apart from quarterly user group meetings. And, when called upon, Tableau customer service has been exceptional!

Perhaps most significant is that Tableau has allowed for more collaborations and an opportunity for a more unified management approach. With the increased adoption of Tableau across campus, new doors for collaboration continue to open in the areas of data access, common business definitions, merging of user communities, and governance.


Note: Data has been redacted to protect confidentiality.

For more information about this case

Contact: visualanalysis@tableausoftware.com or call (206) 633-3400 x1