When thinking about business intelligence applications, most of us naturally think about big corporate applications. We think of business intelligence applications that provide insight into corporate financials, identify trends in clinical analysis for drug development and help manage the operations of a company. When thinking of business intelligence, how often do we think of fishing?
Apparently, even the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), needs business intelligence. In fact, last year, NMFS issued a report on its need for enterprise data management and business intelligence.
NMFS has a stated goal of enabling its customers (other government agencies, scientists, etc.) to “confidently find, access and use [our] data.” The agency wants to deliver a Web portal that allows people to effectively discover, access, integrate and use NMFS information resources to answer key current and future questions. That sure sounds like a business intelligence application, doesn’t it?
The information and data challenges facing this agency are very similar to challenges faced by most enterprises:
- Critical gaps in data and no data inventory
- Users don’t have a way to access the information needed to “answer key questions of the day”
- Decision makers don’t have timely access to information
- Archived and historical information is not integrated into today’s data
Basically, just like the “average” enterprise, this marine agency is swimming in data with no easy way to access, understand, analyze and act upon the information. In the words of the NMFS report, key people don’t have “the right data at the right place at the right time.”
The marine agency has siloed applications built for specific business needs, but not built with integration or a global view for data analysis. For example, scientists want to combine information from government surveys with reporting data coming out commercial fishing and fish, whale and marine animal sightings for a bigger picture of what is happening in our oceans. But without business intelligence, it is nearly impossible to pull those data sets into the same system.
Our fishing agencies are challenged with the complex science of setting policies that foster economically viable commercial fishing, while also protecting fish species stocks, and factoring global climate changes into the equation. It’s a politically sensitive, emotional and volatile science and industry, that doesn’t need to be hamstrung by a lack of business intelligence applications, quality data or disparate systems.
Just like the corporate enterprises of today, our marine science agencies have plenty of “technology” solutions – they can even gather real-time catch data – but are struggling with the challenge of turning bushels of raw data into actionable information.
With business intelligence, the many marine science and government agencies can eliminate fishing for data through numerous sources; with their business intelligence “catch” in hand, they can then move on to the important stuff – assessing, analyzing and making decisions.
Spotfire Blogging Team
Image Credit: Microsoft Office Clip Art