Scenario

Our client is a museum that hosts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. The key reporting activities for the museum are to track visitors and manage its vast collection of artefacts. This was being done using a mix of on-premise system data and ad-hoc downloads from SaaS solutions. The reports used a combination of SQL Server, Excel & PowerBI.

Due to ongoing changes in both information needs and staffing, data and reports were not always prepared in the same way. This meant there was variability in approaches and understanding of data that led to inconsistent outcomes. This resulted in reduced productivity when trying to understand the organisation’s performance.

Solution

Talos created a modern cloud-based platform using Azure PaaS Services. The solution used Azure SQL DB to store data from the various source systems in a consistent format. This was populated by routine, scheduled loads using Azure Data Factory. PowerBI was then used as the interface to present data for consumption with a business-friendly structure and set of metrics. To provide a central reference for business rules & data definitions Azure Data Catalog was used. Azure DevOps was used to manage the project, requirements & code.

Outcome

The automated provision of data into a pre-configured model ensured consistency in preparation of data and calculation of metrics. Time was no longer spent manually extracting and preparing data that was routinely required.

By constructing a data model in PowerBI that addressed most use cases, end users were empowered to create self-service reporting. There is no need to manipulate data in Excel first, leading to faster turnarounds for analysis. Having captured data definitions in Azure Data Catalog, uncertainty over meaning of data and metric calculations was removed.

By storing all project management, requirement and code related artefacts in Azure DevOps, the Museum had a lasting repository of the project’s activity, helping counteract the loss of knowledge during organisational changes.

The museum now has an extensible, well managed data platform into which they can ingest new data as it is required. It also has a powerful self-service BI capability that allows users to create their own analysis without needing to undertake challenging data preparation work.