Kathy Gibson reports from InterSystems Virtual Summit 2021 – Data is your organisation’s most precious asset – but only if you are analysing it effectively to gain real insights.

The last 18 months or so have been difficult for everyone in the world, says Terry Ragon, CEO and founder of InterSystems. But they have also been invigorating in that there has been an increasing openness to new ideas and new ways of doing things.

“People have been a lot more open to being innovative,” he says.

Getting better value from their data is just one way that innovation has played out. “Today people need better insights from their data that can help them to optimise decision-making to drive immediate actions.

“And the companies that are able to do so have a major competitive advantage.”

The lower cost of computing today has made it possible for organisations to amass large quantities of data, Ragon says. But, although, there is a lot of talk about this data, what is really important is the insights that can be gleaned.

“People are now asking what data is useful, how they can analyse and use it, how they can add new technologies as they become available; and how they can enable new capabilities without disturbing their existing systems.”

He defines analytics as the scientific process of discovering and communicating the meaningful patterns which can be found in data.

It can take many forms depending on the type of data being analysed and the outcomes that are required.

Ragon describes how these different types of analysis would play out in healthcare where an MRI scan is required to process raw data to produce images; these images can be used for patient diagnoses; and monitoring the images could lead to alerts on immediate action that needs to be taken.

“It is important to be prepared to adopt new analytics technologies as they are created,” Ragon says.

At the same time, while all insights are important, it could be impossible to drive some of them from the operational database without making major changes and possibly disrupting performance.

How InterSystems solves this is by creating a realtime feed of transaction data to a unified record database that provides a consolidated view across the entire enterprise.

“How this differs from a traditional data warehouse is that the unified record is always up to date.”

Like many things, the whole solution is not always as simple as simply feeding live data to the unified record. For some applications, the data may be in a different format that is not necessarily useful.

“So you need to transform the data before passing it to the unified record,” Ragon explains. “We call this clean data or healthy data.”

This data can be shared not only with the unified record, but also with individual systems that perform different functions. These hubs could belong to individual departments that have their own individual needs; or there could be different hubs for different types of data.

This distributed architecture means that analysis can take place, and applications used, at any step in the process.

“You can have analysis and applications at each data hub, at the unified record database, and at each location to which the data is forwarded,” says Ragon.

“This also means you can add analytical capabilities as required. You can introduce important new applications at any point without disturbing existing systems.

“And the architecture provides excellent scalability.”

This is possible because each of the steps in the process is essentially a complete data platform, with messaging, database, analytics and programming capabilities.

But the architecture and the technology is just part of the solution, Ragon adds.

“Ultimately, at the core of any company’s success is trust: trust in the data, trust in the insights and trust in your partners.

“Trust in your partner is something that needs to be earned, and this is something we strive to do every day.”