The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology is a polytechnic and applied research institute in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. NAIT provides hands-on, technology-based education in health, business, applied sciences and technologies, and skilled trades to meet the needs of Alberta’s labour market. Graduates have the knowledge and skills employers want. They leave NAIT confident, prepared and in demand.
When we first spoke to NAIT’s enterprise information management leader, Mark Horseman, back in early 2019, he made it very clear that NAIT’s main challenge was in finding and understanding the plethora of data they had flowing through their various systems – mainly SQL Server, SSIS, and Tableau.
“Lineage is our big beast right now.”
-Mark Horseman, Enterprise Information Management, NAIT
They had two business units that deal with reporting – Institutional Research (IR) and the Office of the Registrar (RO) who had both been facing similar if not the exact same use cases with regard to locating their data throughout the environment and understanding how it moved through the different systems.
Many organizations have legacy processes. NAIT is no exception. Many years ago a process was architected to transition graduating students to members of NAIT’s alumni. At NAIT, there is much pride in being an “Ook,” their owl mascot. The process involved in transitioning student data into the alumni system involved a report that was run after the convocation ceremony. In the interest of improving that process, NAIT was embarking on better understanding that report.
NAIT’s enterprise data warehouse, connected to Octopai, was the current source of the report being used to ferry graduating students to their alumni system. When the project to improve this process began, business users got in touch with the BI team to better understand the lineage of student data. Using Octopai, the BI team at NAIT was able to highlight all the legacy logic that was determining what data was sent to the alumni system. This allowed NAIT to quickly analyze what changes could be made and help with process improvements and help better understand our graduating class.
Before using Octopai, something like this would have taken the NAIT team at least a week to sleuth out, but with automated discovery and lineage, they were able to quickly find the data they needed in under 30 minutes.
Octopai provides NAIT with quick, end-to-end data lineage, enabling them to get the full story behind their data in seconds. The ability to conduct impact analysis (understand the potential impact of adding content to certain fields) is a huge deal for the BI team that was used to spending a lot of time searching for and trying to make sense of the data scattered throughout their environment. Using Octopai has helped them improve the way they manage their data and the processes by which they work regularly.
“Octopai allows us to search through all our metadata across different platforms in one easy place with an intuitive UI. It all comes together to make any lineage questions trivial instead of problematic.”
-Mark Horseman, Enterprise Information Management