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Gallup Extends BI To The World Of Research
Famous Polling Firm Taps Oracle BI Enterprise Edition For Internal Reporting And Customer Self-service Access to research results

by Maroushka Kanywani, Editor, Dashboard InsightFriday, December 5, 2008

Written by Doug Henschen, Intelligent Enterprise

In the old days, research firms delivered the results of polls and surveys in the form of reports — print-style documents that presented findings and left little room for interaction with and analysis of data. Those days are disappearing, says Jim Collison, technology manager at Gallup Inc., the company behind the famous Gallup Poll.

"As the use of business intelligence technologies has proliferated, many customers now expect more from us," says Collison, pointing to the shortcomings of a PDF-based (read, publishing-oriented) system that now handles much of Gallup's reporting. "We needed a tool that would support more dynamic graphs, charts and drill-downs."

Last month, Gallup brought BI query, analysis and reporting capabilities to the Gallup Customer Portal for the first time. Oracle BI Enterprise Edition (OBIEE) provides the functionality. The system's first customer, which began logging into the system last month, is an unnamed government agency that expects to have as many as 200 users.

"We're giving them ad hoc query capabilities and the ability to do what-if scenarios," says Collison. "They can explore whether results are different by city, region, manager or any number of other dimensions, and we have scorecards and dashboards for the executives."

Collison expects BI-based research analysis to be extended to several other major customers in 2009, which could bring as many as 1,500 users online. "Several customers have asked us for spatial and map-viewer information so they can visualize the data on maps," he says. "That's something that just wasn't available through our PDF-based system."

Gallup's Commercial Consulting customers typically do customer and employee satisfaction surveys. Another unit specializes in patient satisfaction surveys for health care organizations. Gallup is also well known for its political research, but that work is supported by highly specialized and geospatially advanced systems that were developed internally.

Last February, Gallup rolled out OBIEE for internal financial and sales reporting, analyzing operational data from the company's Oracle CRM and Oracle eBusiness Suites. The company had been using Cognos BI software, but Collison says Gallup is actively consolidating around Oracle products. "We did explore other options and the software costs were all about the same, but in my experience, the real expense is in the deployment of the product," he says. "OBIEE is fully integrated with Oracle CRM and Oracle eBusiness Suites, so it made sense to standardize from a technology standpoint."

It took five IT employees about three months to roll out OBIEE internally, according to Collison. Two employees then spent about six months rolling out the external reporting capabilities, but much of that effort involved security and authentication work on Gallup's custom portal. The external research data is stored on a large-scale Oracle RAC database.

Drill-down capabilities and granularity are much improved with OBIEE-based analysis, but Collison insists that data shared externally is always aggregated above the level of individual respondents.

Source: Intelligent Enterprise

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