About the Core Data Service

Integrate benchmarking into your IT planning
Use the Core Data Service to know where your organization stands on IT staffing, financials, and services.

Stop guessing. Start making data-driven decisions.

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 top-ten IT issues, for example:

  • Issue #1 — Information security: Developing a holistic, agile approach to reducing 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 (Information Security).
  • Issue #2 — Student success and completion: Effectively applying data and predictive analytics to improve student success and completion. Identify commonly deployed student success technologies and determine your institution's capability to deliver student success technologies. Use this information to plan or adapt your own strategy (Educational Technology Services and Information Systems and Applications).
  • Issue #3 — Data-informed decision making: Ensuring that business intelligence, reporting, and analytics are relevant, convenient, and used by administrators, faculty, and students. Identify commonly deployed analytics technologies and determine your institution's capability to deliver analytics services. Use this information to plan or adapt your own strategy (Information Systems and Applications).
  • Issue #4 — Strategic leadership: Repositioning or reinforcing the role of IT leadership as a strategic partner with institutional leadership. Compare reporting structures for key institutional roles like CIO and CISO (IT Organization, Staffing, and Financing and Information Security).
  • Issue #5 — Sustainable funding: Developing IT funding models that sustain core services, support innovation, and facilitate growth. Benchmark your budget across dollars spent to run, grow, and transform your organization. Use these benchmarks to determine the blend of innovation spending and operating spending that supports your institution's goals (IT Organization, Staffing, and Financing).
  • Issue #6 — Data management and governance: Improving the management of institutional data through data standards, integration, protection, and governance. Determine your institution's capability to manage and protect data. Use this information to plan your own data management strategies ( IT Organization, Staffing, and Financing and Information Security).
  • Issue #7 — Higher education affordability: Prioritizing IT investments and resources in the context of increasing demand and limited resources. Compare peers' spending on in-house infrastructure and services and spending on external providers to determine the most efficient mix for your institution (IT Organization, Staffing, and Financing).
  • Issue #8 — Sustainable staffing: Ensuring adequate staffing capacity and staff retention as budgets shrink or remain flat and as external competition grows. Knowing staff training budgets of your peers can help you set or validate your own (IT Organization, Staffing, and Financing).
  • Issue #9 — Next-gen enterprise IT: Developing and implementing enterprise IT applications, architectures, and sourcing strategies to achieve agility, scalability, cost-effectiveness, and effective analytics. 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 (Information Systems and Applications).
  • Issue #10 — Digital transformation of learning: Collaborating with faculty and academic leadership to apply technology to teaching and learning in ways that reflect innovations in pedagogy and the institutional mission. 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 (Educational Technology Services).

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.

2017 Timeline

  • February-March: 2016 data and reports released
  • July 17: Survey opened
  • October 13: Survey deadline
  • January 2018: 2017 data and reports released

Consortia Participants

Greater survey participation means greater benchmarking value. These higher education consortia or regional organizations typically have 40 percent or greater member participation:

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

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

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.


View the CDS FAQ or contact us: