Daan van Beek and Wouter Huisman of Passionned Group have been supporting a project group of the Municipality of The Hague for some time. The goal is to achieve a municipality-wide Business Intelligence Roadmap. “In terms of business intelligence we are really still learning to walk,” says Ling Po-Shih, Group Advisor / Project Manager Business Intelligence (BI) at the Municipality. “In 2009 internal research showed that we were not at all ready for BI at the time. We did that research again in 2013. Now we are at the point where we want to draw up a BI Roadmap. We do, however, need some help with that.”
Master class BI / Analytics
Shih knew the Business Intelligence book Data Science for Decision-Makers and found it remarkable that the author Daan van Beek mainly discussed the user organization – rather than the technology. “The book is about how to make smart use of information. That appealed to me and the other members of the work group. The result: we invited Daan van Beek to give a mini master class BI to the members of the work group, so everyone had a clear vision of what BI is and what you can do with it. This is how the ball started rolling.”
The BI master class, which consists of three daily sessions, was a great success. Soon people from outside the work group, such as directors and department heads, were also spontaneously registering for one or more daily sessions. The planned maximum of 16 participants was exceeded several times. “People are even asking for a repeat of the master class. We cannot complain about the interest.”
Wouter Huisman was one of the interviewers on behalf of Passionned Group and had discussions with a number of departments. “Really qualitative interviews, almost similar to sparring. This ultimately resulted in a collection of what were effectively mini business cases. On this basis, we can determine where the added value of BI is for each department, and then set priorities. In many cases, the provision of information can be optimised for decision-making. For other sections, it is about the new insights you can get by using BI.”
Business intelligence is becoming a hot topic within the Municipality of The Hague. As more examples are provided which show what BI is in practice and what it does, understanding and interest is growing. “That helps in writing the roadmap,” says Ling-Po Shih. “We have now completed a first draft version that has been well received by the work group and the CIO. The understanding of the definitions and goals is also growing in the wider organization.” Three domains are defined in the roadmap: the social, the public, and the physical domain. We are working to create a separate roadmap per department, or even better per domain, as Shih says, “to get closer to the primary processes in the departments.”
Fraud prevention impossible without BI
Everything is brought together at a later stage, so that work can start on the integration of data across the various primary processes and domains. For this to happen, the foundation must be in order. “But we are not that far yet.”
The next step is to work on striking examples, such as fraud prevention, actually the entire monitoring of the social domain. This is impossible without BI. This actually also applies to the physical domain. “This includes various enforcement agencies that must to do their work guided by management information. We are now working to inform them about this,” says Ling-Po Shih. “We are starting several projects for this with which we can also show directors – and those colleagues who are not quite convinced yet – what BI can do.”
Big Data is also part of the repertoire in the physical domain, for example in the form of notifications about public spaces. “People can tweet comments or post on Facebook and other social media. Somebody in the contact centre keeps an eye on that now. But that can be automated easily with a social media link that directly transmits information to other systems that can react immediately to it. All examples that really appeal within the Municipality.”
“It’s a really fun job,” says Wouter Huisman. “I became involved in November 2013 and in a short time you get a very good picture of everything that such a large Municipality is doing. It is an incredible amount. It is a real eye-opener, so broad and diverse and therefore extremely complex. You really start to appreciate what they do.”
The work group has also learnt from other municipalities, such as Rotterdam, where they are a bit further on with BI. The possibility of a partnership association is currently being examined, especially in the software (OBIEE) reuse field. “I spoke about that with the BI architect of the data warehouse. I also had a discussion with colleagues in Amsterdam to see what initiatives they have taken in the BI field,” says Ling-Po Shih. “I also went to Utrecht. An experiment is being conducted there whereby Big Data is being used for social community teams. The people who are participating in that are very positive. All very inspiring conversations.”
Social Affairs has been working with BI a little longer in the Municipality of The Hague, what was formerly a department is now a Business Intelligence Competency Centre. In addition to technical people and programmers, business analysts are now also part of the team. “All very nice projects, but we still have a way to go,” Ling-Po Shih knows.
Wouter Huisman concludes: “What really struck me was that there is a huge thirst for information and that there is a great will and readiness to do things even better. We at the Passionned Group hope to contribute to that.”
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Further reading: The Carante Group takes next step in Business Intelligence