Save the Children UK Improves Business and IT Collaboration with Data Virtualization
Increased accuracy, efficiency, time and cost savings
Providing the right information to decision-makers, donors, fundraisers, and other stakeholders is critical for the organization's ever-evolving, life-altering mission. But a myriad of internal and external data sources, and the need to respond rapidly to world events, made it hard to integrate this data and provide insights. With data being available from an ever-increasing variety of sources, it was becoming increasingly unmanageable to continue with traditional ETL processes.
Save the Children faced many of the same issues other dynamic organizations encounter: multiple versions of the data, no shared metadata specification or real-time information, a lack of governance and agility in responding to business needs, and an inability to extract value from new, ever evolving unstructured data sources.
Moreover, 91 percent of Save the Children's funds is spent on charitable activities, leaving just nine percent for all other costs, including IT. Any technology investment would need to be prudent and effective. Lower cost of delivery and business agility were foremost in justifying the use of the TIBCO® Data Virtualization platform.
Knowing it had to find a better way, the Save the Children team designed a new data, analytics, and insight architecture to assist in achieving its mission and to overcome technical and delivery challenges. TIBCO Data Virtualization was selected to instantiate and operationalize several initiatives built around principles that govern management and data delivery throughout the organization. Among them, establishing a single version of the truth, tracked KPIs, definitions for all data, secured data entities, and business intelligence and data analytics as a standard activity, rather than a development project.
Increased Accuracy and Cost Savings
With a new, logical approach to data modeling, including standardized entities and attributes supported by TIBCO Data Virtualization, Save the Children centralized the view of its data using a Common Business Model (CBM). Doing so created a single source of truth for applications, analysis, and reporting, which ensured all users worked with correct data and removed discrepancies, and enabled user-analysts to spend more time on value-add activity. The platform also allowed governance over the standard model and architecture providing business alignment on data definitions.
Greater Efficiency and Better, Easier Data Access
The organization's Adobe Campaign Manager system manages email communications to supporters. Of high importance, the team needed to reengineer the myriad data feeds to this system to improve agility and remove extra steps. Regardless of the original data source, using TIBCO Data Virtualization, the team was able to provide a single, consistent data service to the email system, allowing faster business rule changes and delivery of new data. In addition, TIBCO Data Virtualization made it very easy to expand data services to include grant information and supporter attributes. Likewise, the system has made it easy to provide data interfaces to other digital systems, such as Adobe Marketing Cloud and online donation forms.
"The collaborative way of working has been transformational," said Graham Tucker, head of data & development. "Previously, the business would provide detailed requirements (sometimes using business analyst resources), and then IT would develop and test. This process has been streamlined. We all now work as one team and can accommodate change as the work progresses. For example, data discovery can identify changes in requirements, and we can now very quickly see the results."
IT Time Savings
The team also proved the success of the agile delivery process across business and IT by taking advantage of TIBCO Data Virtualization iterative coding capabilities. This level of agility couldn't be achieved using a traditional waterfall delivery model, and is now the standard model for software development at Save the Children. The result is that fewer interim staging environments are needed, reducing storage costs and ETL processing workloads.
Save the Children is currently replacing a legacy physical data warehouse with the virtualized data model to save costs and provide more consistent reporting. The platform will also be used to integrate data from digital and social channels in both batch and real-time to ensure information presented to supporters is both relevant and accurate.