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Berklee College of Music in Boston is known for turning out masters of jazz and contemporary music. What it's not known for is how its IT department uses analytics and AI in higher education. A new partnership with data integration vendor SnapLogic might change that.
In 2016, Berklee officially merged with the Boston Conservatory, now called Boston Conservatory at Berklee. The move created new summer, study abroad and online programs, and left the two music-minded institutes to share buildings, faculty and classes.
However, the merger left Berklee with two major student information systems, Jennifer Coon, director of administrative technology services at Berklee, explained.
Tale of two systems
With the two distinct systems, "the idea of giving our students the unifying experience of what we call 'One Berklee' was becoming challenging," Coon said.
While the college could share data between the systems, the system wasn't dynamic or scalable, and it was slow and cumbersome.
"We were always pushing data back and forth between systems in a very piecemeal kind of way," Coon said.
Coon and her team knew the school had to turn to more modern analytics and AI in higher education software. They began working with Workday, a vendor of cloud-based HR and financial management services.
Jennifer CoonBerklee College of Music
Workday's services, which Berklee will see fully installed by 2021, work well, Coon said, but the team still needed an automated integration platform to complement Workday.
A logical choice
SnapLogic has snaps for many different types of integrations, including for what it says is easy integration with services from AWS, Microsoft, Adobe Cloud and Kafka. By providing pre-built and specific tools to connect data sources automatically, the snaps save data scientists time and make it easier for non-data scientists to integrate their data successfully, Greg Benson, chief scientist at SnapLogic, said.
"We've really tried to achieve a user experience that we like to think is approaching a consumer-like experience," Benson said.
The SnapLogic platform also serves up machine learning-powered recommendations for Snaps based on the pipelines it thinks a user is building, which Benson said speeds up the development process quite a bit.
Easy to use, Berklee says
SnapLogic's ease of use is mainly why Coon and her team chose the platform for its AI in higher education needs.
Coon's team consists of programmers, but they are trained in programming legacy on-premises systems. Even so, SnapLogic was reasonably easy to learn in a few days of onsite training. "The platform is intuitive," and enables the Berklee team to build off of projects that were publically sold or shared, Coon said.
With Workday, SnapLogic and other analytics and AI in higher education tools, Berklee has been able to spend less time working on fixing broken or outdated systems, and more on looking forward, Coon said.
"Typically, before we were putting out fires," Coon said. "Now, at least on the management level, we are thinking about what are the strategic goals for five years, for ten years into the future."
In doing so, the music college expects to save money, grow faster and provide a better technological ecosystem for its students.