2 page Case Study - Posted 7/19/2012
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University Speeds Reporting and Improves Data Analysis with Microsoft BI Platform
Sripatum University in Thailand was using multiple information systems to track enrollment, student loans, and other parts of its operations. The systems were developed with different platforms and databases, so analyzing data across operations
was difficult. The school has now implemented a solution that uses Microsoft business intelligence to integrate its data. As a result, reporting is faster and data is easier to understand.
Established as a private college in 1970 and promoted to university status in 1987, Sripatum University has campuses in three locations. It accepts more than 5,000 new students each year into undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate programs in business
administration, law, architecture, economics, information technology, and other fields. Sripatum University wants to be Thailand’s leading private university for the next generation, and it has invested extensively in information and communications technology,
including wireless networks and e-learning systems.
||ETL tools in Microsoft SQL Server 2012 are flexible and support different databases, enabling users to access data from all parts of the system.
| Chaiwat Oottamakorn, PhD
Assistant to the President for Technology
Sripatum University manages its diverse operations with information collected by the Sripatum Campus Management System (SCMS). The mission-critical SCMS is made up of a variety of individual information systems that track such things as enrollment, registration,
student activities, lecturer assessments, scholarships, and graduate employment. Other information systems in the SCMS are used to manage university administration, e-learning programs, an electronic library, and an educational quality control system.
The information architecture of the SCMS is complex. Systems in the SCMS were created with various programming languages on multiple platforms with separate databases. Software includes multiple versions of Microsoft SQL Server and a non-Microsoft platform,
too. This complexity made generating reports from SCMS data slow and difficult. Some reports could take up to a month to produce, so the information they contained might be out of date.
The university wanted to speed up reporting so that it could react more quickly to changing market conditions. “To manage the university, we need to analyze data in order to make decisions and respond to the market,” says Chaiwat Oottamakorn, PhD, Assistant
to the President of Technology, Sripatum University. “We already have data from the SCMS. The question is how to optimize the data.”
The university also wanted to improve its report presentations. When the SCMS was first implemented, reports were created by processing data in Microsoft Excel spreadsheet software and by reformatting data in Microsoft PowerPoint presentation graphics software.
Later, reporting tools like PerformancePoint Services in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 were implemented. But the university wanted SCMS users to be able to interact more with the data, and it didn’t want users to have to undergo extensive training to do
Sripatum University chose a reporting solution based on Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Enterprise Edition and its built-in business intelligence (BI) features. It runs on Windows Server 2008 R2 and includes Microsoft Office 2010. The school liked the interactive
capabilities of SQL Server 2012—especially Power View, which can be used to add charts to reports and to customize report displays. Power View reports also can be exported as slides to Microsoft PowerPoint 2010.
The new system uses the extract, transform, and load (ETL) tools in SQL Server 2012 to pull data from the university’s multiple databases and make it ready for processing by SQL Server 2012 BI features. “ETL tools in Microsoft SQL Server 2012 are flexible
and support different databases, enabling users to access data from all parts of the system,” Dr. Chaiwat says. The ETL tools also are used to improve system efficiency. Some data types, such as enrollment, do not change frequently. In those cases, ETL tools
can be scheduled to extract new data every half day instead of continuously, which reduces server workloads while still delivering accurate data when needed.
To design and implement the solution, Sripatum University hired Microsoft partner Infolyst Company Limited. Infolyst had significant experience developing BI solutions for other universities, and it needed less than two weeks to develop the new system for
the university. Infolyst has developed a BI framework that consisted of predefined KPIs and reports designed specifically for the management of the university. The solution not only provides Sripatum University with knowledge of best practices, but it also
shortens development time as well.
With its new system based on SQL Server 2012, Sripatum University has reduced reporting times and improved its analytical capabilities. It has begun to use dashboards to track key performance indicators (KPIs), and it plans to start hosting educational materials
in the cloud.
Real-Time Data Speeds Understanding
The new solution accelerates production of reports for university management. Reports that previously required up to a month to produce are now generated quickly based on real-time data, so they are accurate and up to date. Users can present reports in PowerPoint
efficiently because they are already familiar with the program and don’t need additional training. In addition, with the Power View data visualization feature in SQL Server 2012, users can interact more with the data and produce charts and graphics that make
presentations easier to understand.
Integration Improves Analysis
Microsoft SQL Server 2012 can access data from all databases in the system and analyze different kinds of data simultaneously. Simultaneous analysis of data across various SCMS systems was impossible with the original SCMS architecture. But it is possible
now because SQL Server 2012 integrates data across systems by extracting it into a data warehouse. The price is attractive, too. “Microsoft SQL Server 2012 is very cost-effective when compared with databases from other vendors.” Dr. Chaiwat says.
Dashboards to Track KPIs in More Areas
The university has already developed four prototype dashboards and 17 reports to help analyze student administration, and it plans to track KPIs in other areas, too. “To develop a dashboard, we will follow organizational development plans and study the organization’s
KPIs, including those concerning teaching and learning, personnel, lecturers, research, academic services, and cultural services.” The university also will track KPIs relating to the national Thai Qualifications Framework for Higher Education.
Cloud to Support E-Learning Program
The Sripatum University data center already supports cloud computing, and the school now plans to use SQL Server 2012 to host educational content on the Internet. “We will develop a cloud service system that supports e-learning,” Dr. Chaiwat says. “Textbooks
will be downloaded in an electronic form, and students will be able to make and share comments among themselves.”
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