Data Warehouse Improvement is a Multi-Year Journey

Senior Director of Business Intelligence and Analytics Steve Fischer describes our past data mining operations as being a little bit like Beggar’s Night

“You might get something you want, you might get nothing at all and you likely wouldn’t have much choice about what you get,” says Fischer. “OCIO and the data warehouse team have been working to change that over the past few years.”

Past problems included incomplete data sets, conflicting information and the inability to obtain certain data either because the data wasn’t being collected or could not be easily accessed. Even if the data was collected and was reliable, sometimes our systems made it impossible to deliver data in a reasonable timeframe and some data could only be achieved with near heroic effort.

There’s no easy fix, so it will take some time to make all of the problems a thing of the past. The data warehouse modernization project is a multi-year effort that targets improvements to metrics, mashing up of information and data mining. Consider that OCIO’s data warehouse consists of multiple systems, some that are modern and others that need to be replaced. Since 2015 we have been building out the student warehouse and other capabilities through a series of “small wins.” One example is the Seat and Section Capacity Dashboard, which shows student enrollments per section, the enrollment capacity for each class and physical room capacity.

Our finance systems are due for a complete facelift, and the finance data warehouse will be one facet of this Financials Replacement Project. The data warehouse team plans to implement a few additional improvements to augment those included in the project. eReports and other data reporting systems are also on the drawing board with planned improvements and replacements coming in the next few years. We've already significantly improved the process for extracting financial scorecards, increasing the number of scorecards printed from 27,755 in FY15 to 151,879 IN FY16. This allows department to  have a better understanding of their progress and to make more informed decisions.

Computer-assisted data analysis is not new, but the proliferation of technology and data is a relatively new development. Improving the quantity and quality of data available opens up new opportunities to facilitate more informed decision making. One challenge of “big data” is expanding staff perspectives on what is possible through analytics-driven decision making. In our ideal end-state, we will deliver a full spectrum of inquiries into university data as well as just-in-time capabilities when decisions need to be made immediately after data is collected.

For more information about our data warehouse and data analytics journey, contact Senior Director of Business Intelligence and Analytics Steve Fischer via email or at 614-206-2402.

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