Skip to main
University-wide Navigation

What is Data Analytics?

Data is all around us. It is in our cars, phones, watches and the computer systems used throughout the University of Kentucky. It enables us to do sophisticated things, such as paying for meals electronically or sending an email. Things that few people could have imagined even 30 years ago.


What’s more, the amount of data around us is growing exponentially. The problem is, all this data is virtually useless unless it is applied to a specific task. So how do we harness all that data for a useful purpose? Here at UK, data is applied to many tasks and produces most of what you see and use today on campus. All with the help of data analytics.


While it is a concept that has been around for a long time, most people would be hard-pressed to tell you precisely what data analytics is or what benefits it offers. Simply put, data analytics is the process of taking raw data and massaging it until a meaningful insight can be obtained. This process usually involves writing a computer program, which can then be used to solve the problem of diving into huge data files or databases and extracting useful information from them.


What are the Benefits of Data Analytics?


1. Cost-effective – A computer program can quickly and easily sift through vast stores of data, far more efficiently than a human ever could.

2. Comprehensive – In traditional auditing, where there is a large amount of data, only a portion of the data is examined, known as a test sample. However, data analytics can process 100 percent of the data, giving the most complete depiction of the information.

3. Accurate – People are flawed and can make mistakes. A well-tested Data Analytic program can perform the function with total accuracy each time it is run.

4. Repeatable and Reproducible – The data analytic can be operated continuously and is easily adapted to run for additional units.   


The University of Kentucky depends on many computer systems in both its campus setting and its hospital. These systems are inundated with data every second of every day. To get the most out of its systems and provide the best possible experience for its students and employees, data analytics is a vital tool for managing the vast amounts of data that must be processed.


Data Analytics in Internal Audit


UK Internal Audit (UKIA) uses data analytics to identify outliers that could be indicative of reporting errors, conflicts of interest, or even fraud. For example, an analytic may be used to determine whether there has been any suspicious credit card activity in a particular unit.


However, once written, that data analytics program can be used again and again, and across multiple units, making it a very cost-effective risk-mitigation tool. It can even be run on a regular schedule, such as monthly or quarterly. Data analytics, executed repeatedly for auditing purposes, is referred to as Continuous Auditing. Such constant monitoring has already proven to be a significant enhancement to UKIA’s assurance programs for the University.



For more information on data analytics or to schedule a review in your unit, please contact UKIA at 859.257.3126, or visit our website at


If you would like to receive news and information about current risks, fraud concerns and more, please subscribe to UKIA’s listserv by sending an e-mail to with the following text in the message body: subscribe INTERNALAUDIT-L.

Photo by: Christiaan Colen