Intuitive partnership puts data in your hands

Increasingly sophisticated FM applications have stimulated demand for intelligent data analysis, but this can create bottle necks as the experts drill down into the figures. Paul Durant, Strategic Project Manager at FSI (FM Solutions) Ltd, reports on a partnership that will provide integrated data analysis.

Today's CAFM software can collect data on almost every measurable conceivable. But extracting it into formats that enable end users to make strategic business decisions has, until now, been a specialist skill, due to the scale of the data and the complex relationships within it. For example, a portfolio of buildings will be maintained in a single database table but will be referenced by many different functional areas, such as helpdesk tasks, assets, room bookings, quotes, projects etc., all of which will have database tables and relationships of their own.

Extrapolating the relevant information from the complex relationships has, until now, required the expertise of a system administrator or an SQL expert. And this is where the potential for bottlenecks arises, as the appetite for intelligent data reporting swells.

Data simplification
New problems require new ways of thinking, so we've teamed up with Intuitive BI to create an innovative solution to put all this data at the fingertips of end users. A best-of-breed specialist data analysis software provider, Intuitive have an established product that can be used as a framework for extracting, analysing and visualising data from a wide variety of data sources. FSI FM are integrating the Intuitive BI dashboard software into the FSI Concept product suite to create a uniquely integrated data access platform. Crucially, the new dashboard module simplifies the data, enabling lay users to manipulate, extract and present data in an easy-to-understand format and publish at the appropriate level of detail for each user.

The first step was to remove the requirement to translate nonintuitive database table and field names by using terms already familiar to people using our interfaces. But we have also eliminated the need for users to understand the complexities of linking data in relational databases; Intuitive can create all of the database table associations in advance, flattening out the data into single rows of clear and simple information. For example, if you want to report on planned maintenance tasks, all of the table associations between tasks, assets, asset hierarchies, buildings, sites and financial classifications (data that could be spread across seven or eight different tables in the database) are done for you.

Business benefits
The key benefits identified by the user groups who have trialled the dashboard are its simplicity and the speed with which end users can now access and interpret their data. The drag and drop interface allows you to create a bespoke dashboard showing exactly what you want, instantaneously. Plus you can choose how your data is presented - whether in charts, graphs or data lists - and fine tune the display options so you see exactly what you need.

The content is also interactive: you might create a dashboard showing the financial information of every cost centre, but then need to drill down into just one; by clicking on just one element, all the charts you have created would transform immediately. Most significantly, the speed and simplicity facilitate strategic decision making.

The integrated solution goes a step further than traditional BI solutions, allowing you to seamlessly navigate
from the dashboard to core areas of the application. In essence Intuitive BI becomes an extension of your concept environment.

Project development
FSI's Intuitive Dashboard will be available with a number of prepackaged dashboards covering core areas. It is fully integrated with FSI, meaning dashboards can be designed in Evolution and then published to users of the Evolution, Connect and Reach systems. For those familiar with FSI's customisable ‘widget' web part framework, Intuitive dashboard components can also be combined with other types of FSI widget (e.g. Call Logging, RSS Feeds, Room Booking) to create custom web pages that provide both functionality and powerful data analysis.

The Intuitive Dashboard will be accessible through any web interface including those on mobile devices without the need for plugins or add-ons. In the longer term, we will be looking to integrate Intuitive report options into our FSI GO mobile application platform to enable users to design apps with embedded charts and graphs.

About FSI
FSI is a global-leader in CAFM software, with Headquarters in the UK, offices in Australia and Dubai, and an international partner network. The product portfolio includes the Concept Evolution completely web-based CAFM
solution and FSI GO for Mobile Application development.