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Colleges and universities use Core Data Service benchmarks to inform IT strategic planning and management. CDS focuses on IT financials, staffing, and services data, and is organized by a set of IT domains. CDS comprises three parts:

  • Data Collection — The annual CDS survey is organized into a set of required modules that collect core information and optional modules that collect more details on IT domains. Beginning in 2016, optional modules will be included in the survey on rotation. Institutions will still be able to access data previously contributed to modules even if those modules are not included in the current year’s survey. View all 2016 survey questions or by module:
  • Data Reports and Core Metrics — Data submitted in the survey flows into CDS Reporting, a self-service tool enabling institutions that submitted data to create custom peer groups, view data in graphs and tables, download detailed reports, and look up responses to individual questions.
  • Reports and Analyses — EDUCAUSE researchers produce publications that summarize and analyze CDS data. While some reports are restricted to ECAR subscribers, many are available to the larger community.
  • CDS data is governed by an Appropriate Use Policy (AUP) that establishes how the data must be protected by CDS participants, as well as how EDUCAUSE may use the data to communicate the state of IT and to enhance services to its diverse membership. A fundamental tenet of the institutional AUP is that access to identified data is limited to survey participants.

Why Participate?

CDS is often a first step in an institution’s larger benchmarking efforts. Participating in CDS enables you to:

  • Better understand your IT organization
  • Benchmark against the past (trending analysis)
  • Have an insurance policy (so you have data if you need it)
  • Share successes/experiences with others

What Topics Are Covered?

Cloud, information security, e-learning, and over 100 more IT topics are covered in the CDS survey. Review the questions in the survey modules above for a comprehensive list of topics, or see a select list here:

  • Analytics maturity
  • CIO reporting line
  • CISO reporting line
  • Classroom technology deployment
  • Cloud
  • Collaborative spaces
  • Communication technology deployment
  • Compensation spending
  • Culture of innovation maturity
  • Data center management
  • Data center power sources
  • Disaster recovery
  • E-learning
  • E-learning maturity
  • Emergency communications
  • Faculty support services
  • Help desk contact methods
  • Help desk satisfaction
  • Help desk service usage
  • High performance computing
  • Identity management
  • Information security maturity
  • Information security policy
  • Information system management strategies
  • Information system products
  • IT expenditures
  • IT funding
  • IT governance maturity
  • IT risk management maturity
  • IT staffing
  • ITIL implementation
  • Kiosks
  • Knowledge management
  • Labs
  • Laptop loans
  • Mobile
  • Outsourcing
  • Percent virtualized
  • Research computing maturity
  • Research support
  • Residence hall services
  • Risk assessment
  • Spending on training
  • Student success technologies maturity
  • Tablet loans
  • Virtual desktops
  • Wired infrastructure quality
  • Wireless coverage
  • Wireless infrastructure quality

How Do Institutions Use CDS Data?

With data from CDS, you can:

  • Communicate the value of IT
  • Benchmark budgets
  • Benchmark staffing
  • Compare department structure and service delivery with peers' and aspirational peers
  • Target a benchmarking effort (hone in on who's doing what for a more extensive analysis)

Map CDS Data to the Top 10 IT Issues

CDS data helps you to address the 2016 top-ten IT issues, for example:

  • Issue #1 — Information Security: Developing a holistic, agile approach to information security to create a secure network, develop security policies, and reduce institutional exposure to information security threats. Benchmark your institution’s information security activities to see how you align with your peers and best practices. Use this information to identify where you are well prepared and where new focus may be needed (Module 7: Information Security).
  • Issue #2 — Optimizing Educational Technology: Collaborating with faculty and academic leadership to understand and support innovations and changes in education and to optimize the use of technology in teaching and learning, including understanding the appropriate level of technology to use. Benchmark your institution's service portfolio for faculty support so that you can ensure faculty have what they need to integrate technology into the classroom (Module 3: Educational Technology Services).
  • Issue #3 — Student Success Technologies: Improving student outcomes through an institutional approach that strategically leverages technology. Identify commonly deployed student success technologies and look at which technologies are used by institutions similar to yours. Use this information to plan or adapt your own strategy (Module 3: Educational Technology Services and Module 8: Information Systems and Applications).
  • Issue #4 — IT Workforce Hiring and Retention: Ensuring adequate staffing capacity and staff retention as budgets shrink or remain flat and as external competition grows. Understand which organizational units are responsible for IT policies and data protection at your institution. Use this information to plan your own data management strategies. (Module 1: IT Organization, Staffing, and Financing and Module 7: Information Security).
  • Issue #5 — Institutional Data Management: Improving the management of institutional data through data standards, integration, protection, and governance. Understand which organizational units are responsible for IT policies and data protection at your institution. Use this information to plan your own data management strategies. (Module 1: IT Organization, Staffing, and Financing and Module 7: Information Security).
  • Issue #6 — IT Funding Models: Developing IT funding models that sustain core services, support innovation, and facilitate growth. Benchmarking your budget across dollars spent to run, grow, and transform your organization, as well as across capital and operating work. Use these benchmarks to determine the blend of innovation spending and operating spending that supports your institution’s goals (Module 1: IT Organization, Staffing, and Financing).
  • Issue #7 — BI and Analytics: Developing effective methods for business intelligence, reporting, and analytics to ensure they are relevant to institutional priorities and decision making and can be easily accessed and used by administrators, faculty, and students.Use the EDUCAUSE Core Data Service to provide additional input into your own business intelligence activities (Core Metrics and Module 1: IT Organization, Staffing, and Financing)
  • Issue #8 — Enterprise Application Integrations: Integrating enterprise applications and services to deliver systems, services, processes, and analytics that are scalable and constituent centered. Identify systems your peers are replacing within the next three years, as well as which vendors your peers are using. Consider this data as you work on plans for your enterprise systems (Module 8: Information Systems and Applications).
  • Issue #9 — IT Organizational Development: Creating an IT organization structure, staff roles, and staff-development strategy that are flexible enough to support innovation and accommodate ongoing changes in higher education, IT service delivery, technology, analytics, and so forth. Understand your institution’s IT strategy and culture of innovation to help you set your IT organizational development plans (Module 1: IT Organization, Staffing, and Financing).
  • Issue #10 — E-Learning and Online Education: Providing scalable and well-resourced e-learning services, facilities, and staff to support increased access to and expansion of online education. Identify commonly deployed e-learning technologies and look at which technologies are used by your peers. Use this information to plan or adapt your own strategy (Module 3: Educational Technology Services and Module 8: Information Systems and Applications).

Who is Eligible?

Any higher education institution can participate in CDS. View eligible institutions. If your institution is not listed, and you’d like to participate, please contact us.


How Do I Get Started?

  1. Complete the CDS survey. The survey preparation checklist outlines seven steps that help you get started.
  2. Subscribe to CDS Update to receive timely updates and information.



View the CDS FAQ or contact us:


How to Get Started

Once you've decided to benchmark with CDS, you can use this seven-step checklist to prepare your organization for the annual survey.


2016 Timeline

  • January-March: 2015 data and reports released
  • July 12: Survey opened
  • November 4: Survey deadline (unless extension requested)
  • December 16: Survey taken down
  • January 2017: 2016 data and reports released


Consortia Participants

Greater survey participation means greater benchmarking value. These higher education consortia or regional organizations had 40 percent or greater member participation in 2014:

  • ACE
  • AJCU
  • CLAC
  • Committee on Institutional Cooperation
  • Internet2

Contact us to learn the benefits of achieving 40 percent participation in the 2016 survey.


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