Posted January 27, 2016
Cara Cadena, the Business Liaison Librarian at Grand Valley State University, can see the future and knows exactly what budding college-aged entrepreneurs are in for: a highly competitive global business world that demands an edge to get ahead. It’s Cadena’s job to help students develop that edge despite a workload that requires her to juggle multiple responsibilities, like teaching library instruction courses, managing the library’s growing collection, and assisting students with research projects.
Today’s college students have terabytes of data at their fingertips. However, that data is not always trustworthy, accessible, or housed in formats that best position students to comprehend and use it appropriately for homework projects. Cadena prides herself on providing the one-on-one research assistance business students need. However, with hundreds of students all vying for an advantage, Cadena lacks the time necessary to provide individual attention to every student who requires it.
It’s why Cadena, who is passionate about connecting students with the business data they need to produce higher quality homework assignments, knew she needed a digital solution that empowered students to find relevant data with ease and on their own.
- Preparing business students for an ultra-competitive global business environment that demands real-time, data-driven decision making
- Convincing students to learn how to use the businessfocused digital reference materials that can give them the edge they need.
Cloud-Based Collection of Reference Materials Touted as Secret Weapon for Business Students
Just ten months into her job at GVSU, Cadena found exactly what she was looking for in Gale’s DemographicsNow (DemoNow), a highly-customizable, cloud-based collection of rich business and demographic data provided by the Michigan Electronic Library (MeL – www.MeL.org) at no cost to all citizens, libraries, and businesses in Michigan.
DemoNow provides students easy access to real-time demographic, purchasing, and consumer behavior data. The DemoNow resource, according to Cadena, is a gateway for students who want to turn in higher quality homework assignments that highlight their business acumen.
However, to get the most out of DemoNow, which offers up-to-date census data and customizable reports based on geography, cultural patterns, and sociological trends, students need to be trained to use it effectively. This is why Cadena launched an in-class marketing blitz designed to educate professors and students about everything DemoNow has to offer.
“I go into classes and do a basic demonstration,” Cadena said. “To get business students excited about it I ask them to give me a product or a zip code and then I show the class how to use DemoNow to find potential customers or to gauge the likelihood a product will succeed in a certain area.”
The demonstrations appear to be working as evidenced by the number of students funneling into the library and asking Cadena for additional guidance in using DemoNow.
DemoNow Improves Classroom Performance and Helps Prepare Tomorrow’s Entrepreneurs
DemoNow provides students the edge they’ll need to be successful by helping them validate their business ideas and improve the quality of their classroom performance. For instance, customer expenditure reports (CEX reports), help business students better analyze consumer spending trends. “These reports are very popular with marketing students,” Cadena said. “They can quickly find out exactly how much money a specific demographic is spending in a certain geographic area.”
The data is extremely valuable when analyzing whether and where to launch a product as students are regularly asked to do in homework assignments. Students can easily use DemoNow to identify people to whom products are most likely to appeal and target specific neighborhoods with appropriate marketing messaging. “It makes it really easy for students to find their target market,” Cadena said.
Students can also use to DemoNow to combine CEX reports with census data, which is not only easy to read but easy to manipulate. “You can get this data from a lot of different places,” Cadena said. “But the data is much easier to access in DemoNow and it’s also exportable.”
DemoNow is Helping Transform Business Students into Data-Driven Future Leaders
University students are increasingly enrolling in business and entrepreneurial courses in search of insight that will better position them to succeed outside the classroom. DemoNow helps them achieve this goal and better comprehend the data they’re reviewing by presenting it in compelling ways. For instance, students in search of just the right target demographic for a product can export the demographic snapshot charts and graphs and include them in homework assignments for side-by-side comparisons. “The export feature is just fantastic,” Cadena said. “Students really like being able to see the data visually.”
Besides also being useful in other courses that challenge students to incorporate data into their research projects, Cadena says DemoNow’s ease of use is what has students excited. “I’m getting a lot of great feedback,” Cadena said. When the right data is readily accessible, Cadena suggests, students learn early on to make data-driven decisions that will result in better business outcomes in the real world.
While DemoNow is already popular at GVSU, it won’t prevent Cadena from continuing to spread the word so future entrepreneurs may benefit wherever they are on campus. “I’ve actually been recommending DemoNow to other faculty and librarians in the business college,” she said.
“I’ve received great feedback on DemoNow because it’s just so much easier to use and understand.”
- Students embrace a digital tool that transforms complex data into visually appealing charts and graphs, resulting in higher quality work and deeper comprehension
- Easy access to data and the ability to export it for homework assignments helps future business leaders learn how to make more profitable decisions