As part of Quest Experience Week (QXW), Jeffrey Jordan, Director of Enterprise Services for the State of Maine, spoke about the State of Maine’s continuing journey into data analytics with Oracle Cloud and the Oracle Analytics Cloud Services implementation project that the team has been working on. In the last year, the State has rolled out a data model with Oracle Analytics Cloud to support the analysis and report on more than 3,000 general ledger accounting, human resources, and biennial budget data elements. Jordan’s presentation covered how the modern presentation and data exploration capabilities of the Oracle Analytics platform, combined with the ungoverned data mashup capability of Oracle Data Visualizer, has led to early success stories and user adoption.
State of Maine’s Project Journey
Jordan started the project by completing a gap analysis, during which he was able to interview 20-30 people in state government about their data and reporting needs. The DAFS project at the State of Maine has been a long-awaited journey that has been almost five years in the making. The image below shows the Cloud journey timeline at the State of Maine – starting with Jordan’s gap analysis in 2014.
There were over eight expected outcomes for the DAFS Analytics Project:
- Create a tiered model for self-service data
- Provide a single point of entry for access to the department’s governed data
- Provide a consistent and uniform application of data access restrictions
- Improve the performance of access to drilled details
- Improve the presentation of data to be more accessible
- Modernize the presentation of the data so that analysis could meet the speed of business
- Allow data mashup capability with ungoverned data sources while enforcing the business rules of the department
- Allow the re-use of consistent reports across departments and roles by supporting content-based filtering
There was also a three-tier service model that was delivered during this project.
- Tier 1: Data Analytics Workbench
- Tier 2: Information Portal
- Tier 3: Data Science Lab
Tier 1 was a Data Analytics Workbench that would be utilized by all employees of the state. In this tier, the State of Maine utilizes the Oracle Repository to define governed data sources. The Star Schema Model is used to transform data for analysis. Analysis and Data Visualizer become the core tools of the data analyst.
Tier 2 is the Information Portal which contains the Dashboards and Automation. Tier 2 is where a query by simple navigation can take place.
Tier 3 is the Data Science Lab and is becoming the focus now. It utilizes natural language processing and its expected use of Essbase for what-if analysis is very useful.
Single Point of Entry
Oracle Analytics Cloud Services (OACS) delivered the State of Maine with a single point of entry. There is one URL to remember with a custom banner that allows for transition between DV and analytics. Only one login must be remembered because single sign is enabled using IDCS. There is a significant amount of data, so it is important to utilize the search feature.
There are several key aspects in regard to how the State of Maine is governing data access. DAFS is integrating Oracle Identity Cloud Service and their own on-premise Active Directory. They also enforce Catalog Object Permissions based on the groups’ ability to navigate the catalog. There is also role-based content filtering for each query.
Oracle Analytics Cloud Benefits at the State of Maine
Warehouse performance has improved in three significant areas, and all performance requirements have been met or exceeded. There is an improved analytic data model to support hierarchies and fact aggregations. DAFS also took advantage of Oracle Database’s advanced hybrid compression and its in-memory functionality. Finally, they tuned the OACS platform to meet row return needs. There are up to 990,000 formatted rows and over 1 million .csv rows.
It is extremely difficult to make over 3,000 data elements understood, but DAFS was able to improve access to data for all its users. There was a heavy partnership between IT staff and business subject matter experts (SMEs) to design presentation layers. They also built a custom data dictionary and published it as data. Utilizing training videos was also key to their success.
OACS has fundamentally changed the way that DAFS uses data. Answers are able to be delivered faster and there is a reduced reliance on IT. Accessibility has also greatly improved as well as the visual presentation.
OACS has enabled reuse and consistency. Dashboards developed by the project team are enterprise in scope and department filterable. The catalog governance is by department and unit.
Driving Cloud Adoption at the State of Maine
Driving adoption requires communication through changing teams, town hall meetings, and an Early Adopters program. The change team creates a feedback loop, identifies impediments to the adoption, and supports change agents. Town hall meetings stop the spread of misinformation, deliver a clear message, and showcase successes. An Early Adopters Program helps to find your champions, identify risks, and get value early.
- Teaching the technology and how to use OACS through free available materials
- Teaching the data model, developing your own videos, and remembering that it takes five minutes or less to learn a new skill
- Creating a help desk for quick answers and facilitate a user group
Tips and Tricks
The DAFS project team shared four pieces of advice for future users:
- It is important to build a partnership.
- Educate yourself, your partners, and your customers on what is possible.
- Deliver value early and frequently.
- Remember that communication is not a one-way street.