Data Tools: Use of XML

Many industries are using XML. Some see advantages and others see challenges or disadvantages in using XML.

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XML advantages

+ Writing your markup language and are not limited to the tags defined by other people (UK Web Design Company, n.d.)

+ Creating your tags at your pace rather than waiting for a standard body to approve of the tag structure (UK Web Design Company, n.d.)

+ Allows for a specific industry or person to design and create their set of tags that meet their unique problem, context, and needs (Brewton, Yuan, & Akowuah, 2012; UK Web Design Company, n.d.)

+ It is both human and machine-readable format (Hiroshi, 2007)

+ Used for data storage and processing both online and offline (Hiroshi, 2007)

+ Platform independent with forward and backward capability (Brewton et al., 2012; Hiroshi, 2007)

XML disadvantages

– Searching for information in the data is tough and time-consuming without a computer processing application (UK Web Design Company, n.d.)

– Data is tied to the logic and language similar to HTML without a readily made browser to simply explore the data and therefore may require HTML or other software to process the data (Brewton et al., 2012; UK Web Design Company, n.d.)

– Syntax and tags are redundant, which can consume huge amounts of bytes, and slow down processing speeds (Hiroshi, 2007)

– Limited to relational models and object-oriented graphs (Hiroshi, 2007)

– Tags are chosen by their creator. Thus there are no standard set of tags that should be used (Brewton et al., 2012)

XML use in Healthcare Industry

Thanks to the American National Standards Institute, the Health Level 7 (HL7) was created with standards for health care XML, which is now in use by 90% of all large hospitals (Brewton et al., 2012; Institute of Medicine, 2004). The Institute of Medicine (2004), stated that health care data could consist of: allergies immunizations, social histories, histories, vital signs, physical examination, physician’s and nurse’s notes, laboratory tests, diagnostic tests, radiology test, diagnoses, medications, procedures, clinical documentations, clinical measure for specific clinical conditions, patient instructions, dispositions, health maintenance schedules, etc.  More complex datasets like images, sounds, and other types of multimedia, are yet to be included (Brewton et al., 2012).  Also, terminologies within the data elements are not systemized nomenclature, and it does not support web-protocols for more advanced communications of health data (Institute of Medicine, 2004). HL7 V3 should resolve a lot of these issues, which should also account for a wide variety of health care scenarios (Brewton et al., 2012).

XML use in Astronomy

The Flexible Image Transport System (FITS), currently used by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, holds images, spectra, tables, and sky atlases data, which has been in use for 30 years (NASA, 2016; Pence et al. 2010). The newest version has a definition of time coordinates, support of long string keywords, multiple keywords, checksum keywords, image and table compression standards (NASA, 2016).  There was support for mandatory keywords previously (Pence et al. 2010).  Besides the differences in data entities and therefore tags needed to describe the data between the XML for healthcare and astronomy, the use of XML for a much longer period has allowed for a more robust solution that has evolved with technology.  It is also widely used as it is endorsed by the International Astronomical Union (NASA, 2016; Pence et al., 2010).  Based on the maturity of FITS, due to its creations in the late 1970s, and the fact that it is still in use, heavily endorsed, and is a standard still in use today, the healthcare industry could learn something from this system.  The only problem with FITS is that it removes some of the benefits of XML, which includes flexibility to create your tags due to the heavy standardization and standardization body.

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Business Intelligence: Predictions Followup

The last post discussed the future of data mining. For this post, I will expand my opinion on what business intelligence (BI) is moving toward in the future.

  • Potential Opportunities:

o    Health monitoring.  Currently, smart watches are tracking our heart rate, steps, standing time, climbing stairs, siting time, heart beats, workouts, biking, sleep, etc.  But, what if we had a device that measured daily our chemicals in our blood, that is no longer as painful as pricking your finger if you are diabetic.  This, the technology could not only measure your blood chemical makeup but could send alerts to EMT and doctors if there is a dangerous imbalance of chemicals in your blood (Carter et al., 2014).  This would require a strong BI program across emergency responders, individuals, and doctors.

o    As Moore’s law of computational speed moves forward in time, the more chances are companies able to interpret real-time data and produce lead information which can drive actionable data-driven decisions. Companies can finally get answers to strategic business questions in minutes as well (Carter et al., 2014).

o    Both internal data (corporate data) and external data (competitor analysis, costumer analysis, social media, affinity and sentiment analysis), will be reported to senior leaders and executives who have the authority to make decisions on behalf of the company on a frequent basis.  These issues may show up in a dashboard, with x number of indicators/metrics as successfully implemented in a case study of a hospital (Topaloglou & Barone, 2015).

  • Potential Pitfalls:

o    Tools for threat detection, like those being piloted in New York City, could have an increased level of discrimination (Carter, Farmer, & Siegel, 2014). As big data analytics is being used to do facial recognition of photographs and live video to identify threats, it can lead to more racial profiling if the knowledge fed into the system as a priori has elements of racial profiling.  This could lead to a bias in reporting, track higher levels of a particular demographic, and the fact that past performance doesn’t indicate the future.

o    Data must be validated before it is published onto a data warehouse.  Due to the low data volatility feature of data warehouses, we need to ensure that the data we receive is correct, thus expected value thresholds must be set to capture errors before they are entered.  Wrong data in, means wrong data analysis, and wrong data-drove decisions.  An example of expected value thresholds could be that earth’s temperature cannot exceed 500K at the surface.

o    Amplified customer experience.  As BI incorporates social media to gauge what is going on in the minds of their customer, if something were to go viral that could hurt the company, it can be devastating for the company.  Essentially we are giving the customer an amplified voice.  This can be rumors of software, hardware leaks as what happens for every Apple iPhone generation/release, which can put current proprietary information into the hands of their competitors.  A nasty comment or post that gets out of control on a social media platform, to celebrity boycotts.  Though, the opportunity here lies in receiving key information on how to improve their products, identify leakers of information, and settle nasty rumors, issues, or comments.

  • Potential Threats:

o    Loss of data through hackers, which are aiming to steal someone’s identity.  Firewalls must be tighter than ever, and networks must be more secure than ever as a company goes into a centralized data warehouse.  Data warehouses are vital for BI initiatives, but if HR data is located in the warehouse, (for example to help HR identify likelihood measures of disgruntled employees to aid in their retention efforts) then if a hacker were to get a hold of that data, thousands of people information can be compromised.  This is nothing new, but this is a potential threat that must be mitigated as we proceed into BI systems.  This can not only apply to people data but company proprietary data.

o    Consumer advertisement blitz. If companies use BI to blast their customers with ads in hopes to better market to people and use item affinity analysis, to send coupons and attract more sales and higher revenues.  There is a personal example here for me:  XYZ is a clothing store, when I moved to my first house, the old owner never switched their information in their database.  But, since they were a frequent buyer and those magazines, coupons, flyers, and sales were working on the old owner of the house, they kept getting blasted with marketing ads.  When I moved in, I got a magazine every two days.  It was a waste of paper and made me less likely to shop there.  Eventually, I had enough and called customer service.  They resolved the issue, but it took six weeks after that call, for my address to be removed from their marketing and customer database.  I haven’t shopped there since.

o    Informational overload.  As companies go forward into implementing BI systems, they must meet with the entire multi-level organization to find out their data needs.  Just because we have the data, doesn’t mean we should display it.  The goal is to find the right amount of key success factors, key performance indicators, and metrics, to help out the decision makers at all different levels.  Complicating this part up can compromise the adoption of BI in the organization and will be seen as a waste of money rather than a tool that could help them in today’s competitive market.  This is such a hard line to walk on, but it is one of the biggest threats.  It was realized in the hospital case study (Topaloglou & Barone, 2015) and therefore mitigated for through extensive planning, buy-in, and documentation.

 

Resources:

Business Intelligence: Predictions

According to the Association of Professional Futurists (n.d.), “A professional futurist is a person who studies the future in order to help people understand, anticipate, prepare for and gain advantage from coming changes. It is not the goal of a futurist to predict what will happen in the future. The futurist uses foresight to describe what could happen in the future and, in some cases, what should happen in the future.” In my opinion, I will discuss what the future might hold for Data Mining, Knowledge Management and comprehensive BI program and strategy.

The future of …

  • Data mining:

o    Web structure mining (studying the web structure of web pages) and web usage analysis (studying the usage of web pages) will become more prominent in the future.  Victor and Rex (2016) stated that web mining differs from traditional data mining by scale (web information is much larger in number, making 10M web pages seem like it’s too small), access (web information is mostly public, whereas traditional data could be private), and structure (web pages have unstructured, and semi-structured data, whereas traditional data mining, has some explicit level of structure).  The structure of a website can contain: Page Rank, Page number, Damping factor, Number of pages, out-links, in-links, etc.  Your page is considered an authoritative piece if there are many in-links, or it can be considered a hub if it has many out-links, and this helps define page rank and structure of the website (Victor & Rex, 2016).  But, page rank is too trivial of calculation.  One day we will be able to not only know a page rank of a website, but learn its domain authority, page authority, and domain validity, which will help define how much value a particular site can bring to the person.  If Google were to adopt these measures, we could see

  • Data mining’s link to knowledge management (KM):

o    A move towards the away from KM tools and tool set to seeing knowledge as being embedded into as many processes and people as possible (Ferguson, 2016). KM relies on sharing, and as we move away from tools, processes will be setup to allow this sharing to happen.  Sharing occurs more frequently with an increase in interactive and social environments (Ferguson, 2016).  Thus, internal corporate social media platforms may become the central data warehouse, hosting all kinds of knowledge.  The issue and further research need to go into this, is how do we more people engaged on a new social media platform to eventually enable knowledge sharing. Currently, forums, YouTube, and blogs are inviting, highly inclusive environments that share knowledge, like how to solve a particular issue (evident by YouTube video tutorials).  In my opinion, these social platforms or methods of sharing, show the need for a more social, inclusive, and interactive environment needs to be for knowledge sharing to happen more organically.

o    IBM (2013), shows us a glimpse of how knowledge management from veteran police officers, crime data stored in a crime data warehouse, the power of IBM data mining, can be to identifying criminals.  Mostly criminals commit similar crimes with similar patterns and motives.  The IBM tools augment officer’s knowledge, by narrowing down a list of possible suspects of crime down to about 20 people and ranking them on how likely the suspects committed this new crime.  This has been used in Miami-Dade County, the 7th largest county in the US, and a tool like this will become more widespread with time.

  • Business Intelligence (BI) program and strategy:

o    Potential applications of BI and strategy will go into the health care industry.  Thanks to ObamaCare (not being political here), there will be more data coming in due to an increase in patients having coverage, thus more chances to integrate: hospital data, insurance data, doctor diagnosis, patient care, patient flow, research data, financial data, etc. into a data warehouse to run analytics on the data to create beneficial data-driven decisions (Yeoh, & Popovič, 2016; Topaloglou & Barone, 2015).

o    Potential applications of BI and strategy will affect supply chain management.  The Boeing Dreamliner 787, has outsourced 30% of its parts and components, and that is different to the current Boeing 747 which is only 5% outsourced (Yeoh, & Popovič, 2016).  As more and more companies increase their outsourcing percentages for their product mix, the more crucial is capturing data on fault tolerances on each of those outsourced parts to make sure they are up to regulation standards and provide sufficient reliability, utility, and warranty to the end customer.  This is where tons of money and R&D will be spent on in the next few years.

References

  • Ferguson, J. E. (2016). Inclusive perspectives or in-depth learning? A longitudinal case study of past debates and future directions in knowledge management for development. Journal of Knowledge Management, 20(1).
  • IBM (2013). Miami-Dade Police Department: New patterns offer breakthroughs for cold cases. Smarter Planet Leadership Series.  Retrieved from http://www.ibm.com/smarterplanet/global/files/us__en_us__leadership__miami_dade.pdf
  • Topaloglou, T., & Barone, D. (2015) Lessons from a Hospital Business Intelligence Implementation. Retrieved from http://www.idi.ntnu.no/~krogstie/test/ceur/paper2.pdf
  • Victor, S. P., & Rex, M. M. X. (2016). Analytical Implementation of Web Structure Mining Using Data Analysis in Educational Domain. International Journal of Applied Engineering Research, 11(4), 2552-2556.
  • Yeoh, W., & Popovič, A. (2016). Extending the understanding of critical success factors for implementing business intelligence systems. Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 67(1), 134-147.

Business Intelligence: Effectiveness

This post discusses the structure of an effective business intelligence program. Also, this post explains the key components of the structure. Finally this post explains how knowledge management systems fit into the structure.

Non-profit Hospitals are in a constant state of trying to improve their services and drive down costs. Thus, one of the ways they do this is by turning to Lean Six Sigma techniques and IT to identify opportunities to save money and improve the overall patient experience. Six Sigma relies on data/measurements to determine opportunities for continuous improvements, thus aiding in the hospitals goals, a Business Intelligence (BI) program was developed (Topaloglou & Barone, 2015).

Key Components of the structure

For an effective BI program the responsible people/stakeholders (Actors) are identified, so we define who is responsible for setting the business strategies (Goals).  The strategy must be supported by the right business processes (Objects), and the right people must be assigned as accountable for that process.  Each of these processes has to be measured (Indicators) to inform the right people/stakeholders on how the business strategy is doing.  All of this is a document in a key document (called AGIO), which is essentially a data definition dictionary that happens to be a common core solution (Topaloglou & Barone, 2015).  This means that there is one set of variables names and definitions.

Implementation of the above structure has to take into account the multi-level business and their needs.  Once the implementation is completed and buy off from all other stakeholders has occurred, that is when the business can experience its benefits.  Benefits are: end users can make strategic data based decisions and act on them, a shift in attitudes towards the use and usefulness of information, perception of data scientist from developers to problem solvers, data is an immediate action, continuous improvement is a byproduct of the BI system, real-time views with data details drill down features enabling more data-driven decisions and actions, the development of meaningful dashboards that support business queries, etc. (Topaloglou & Barone, 2015).

Knowledge management systems fit into the structure

“Healthcare delivery is a distributed process,” where patients can receive care from family doctors, clinicians, ER staff,  specialists, acute care, etc. (Topaloglou & Barone, 2015).  Each of these people involved in healthcare delivery have vital knowledge about the patient that needs to be captured and transferred correctly; thus hospital reports help capture that knowledge.  Knowledge also lies with how the patient flows in and out of sections in the hospital, and executives need to see metrics on how all of these systems work together.  Generating a knowledge management distributed database system (KMDBS), aids in tying all this data together from all these different sources to provide the best care for patients, identify areas for continual improvements, and provides this in a neat little portal (and dashboards) for ease of use and ease of knowledge extraction (Topaloglou & Barone, 2015).  The goal is to unify all the knowledge from multiple sources into one system, coming up with a common core set of definitions, variables, and metrics.  The common core set of definitions, variables, and metrics are done so that everyone can understand the data in the KMDBS, and look up information if there are any questions.  The development team took this into account and after meeting with different business levels, the solution that was developed in-house provided all staff a system which used their collective knowledge to draw out key metrics that would aid them in data-driven decisions for continuous improvement on the services they provide to their patients.

1 example

Topaloglou & Barone, (2015) present the following example below:

  • Actor: Emergency Department Manger
  • Goal: Reduce the percentage of patients leaving without being seen
  • Indicator: Percentage of patients left without being seen
  • Object: Physician initial assessment process

 

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