University of Waterloo uses Azure and Power BI to empower decision makers in a decentralized environment

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Full story originally published April 5, 2021 on Microsoft's Customer Stories website

A decentralized business model leads to challenges around centralized data

The University of Waterloo operates in a very decentralized manner that provides faculties and administrative units a great level of autonomy to serve students and achieve success. As sometimes happens with highly decentralized organizations, this structure contributed to the proliferation of data marts across the university and created challenges with timely comprehensive and accurate information to support decisions.

Challenges around noncentralized data were exacerbated as the university renewed major systems by migrating from on-premises tools into software as a service (SaaS) that did not allow direct database access and required that all extracts and reports be re-created. The updates required a new strategy to extract and integrate the various system data to perform analysis across multiple systems and data domains. A significant amount of reporting was done manually, with employees using Microsoft Excel and Access as the foundation for joining data from multiple systems and analyzing information. As a result, timely access to information was limited, and employees were often forced to make decisions without access to as much relevant data as they would prefer.

With broad institutional support, the BI Data team, led by Director of ERP and Data Systems Daryl Dore, knew that the data platform needed to be revamped and modernized to meet the current and emerging needs. They started with careful consideration of the users across campus and utilized the agile methodology to make changes and deliver value as soon as possible. With a focus on listening, delivering, and adapting, there has been continual progress and evolution of the capability to support campus stakeholders.

Visit Microsoft's website to learn how the BI Data team used Azure, Power BI, and Power BI dataflows to bring data to business users across campus

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