Worst Practices in BI #5: Ignoring Important Data Sources

Andy McCartney's picture
 By | oktober 21, 2016
oktober 21, 2016

Avoiding Worst Practice #5: Ignoring Important Data Sources

Our final worst practice is the failure to embrace all available information in your business intelligence (BI) and analytics strategy. Your plan must include internal and external sources, as well as both structured and unstructured data. Organizations that ignore important data sources suffer from partial insights that lead to bad decisions, lost opportunities, and other problems.

Your supporting technologies must be able to access any and all available data, and make it readily available for analysis – without forcing you to rely on extensive custom coding or embark on long and cumbersome integration initiatives. Only a unified platform with broad data access, metadata management, and integration capabilities can accomplish that.

Central Washington University has incorporated external information sources into a cohesive environment that combines analysis, data management, information delivery, and reporting. Known as SMART, the environment is available to all faculty and staff on campus. Data is maintained in a data warehouse and three data marts. Each contains data originating from both internal systems and external systems.

Internal system sources include PeopleSoft, Data 180, MAP-Works, and Adirondack. External sources include Pearson, National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), and Faculty Survey of Student Engagement (FSSE), all of which are delivered through 18 dashboards and four Active Technology reports. By tapping into all available information assets, CWU has increased the efficiency of federal and state reporting and improved the accuracy of data for student retention, strategic planning, accreditation, and admissions.

Unstructured data plays a big role in the Houston Police Department's real-time crime center. Enterprise search capabilities are leveraged to parse structured and unstructured documents – for example, to pull additional data on persons, vehicles, and property from officers’ notes, as well as external government databases.

This information is added to a Call for Service report, which displays the details of emergency calls. Together, all this data helps crime analysts ensure that responding officers have as much information as possible when en route to a crime scene.