Case Study

Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine

Five Weeks To A Data Warehouse… Really?!


The Schools

PCOM-2-logo.pngThe Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) is one of the nation’s oldest medical schools. Founded in 1899, it is dedicated to educating students in medicine, health, and the behavioral sciences.

The Question

In his first 90 days after joining PCOM, Rick Smith, their new CEO, assessed the school’s technology infrastructure looking for challenges and opportunities. As Rick says, “Like most every other college and university, we had numerous enterprise applications that existed as siloed applications with siloed information, and each one came with their own reporting capabilities. When we needed to start pulling data from multiple sources for executive reporting and analytics, the need for a data warehouse became very clear.”

The Analysis

Rick’s team put in a request to design and develop a data warehouse. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, their project was pushed to the end of 2020. Given their goal of finding a way to move from a simple descriptive orientation to a predictive orientation, followed by a prescriptive way of operating, the delay in timing put additional pressure on their initiative.

“Ultimately, we wanted to find a way to improve student outcomes. The need for a data warehouse to facilitate that became very clear.”

Rick and his team looked at available alternatives. After evaluating a range of options, Rick describes, “One of the things that become really fascinating was the concept of a Data Warehouse as a Service. We spent a lot of time vetting these platforms, and I’m happy to say we selected the Snowflake data warehouse as our platform.”

The Solution

Once PCOM selected Snowflake, they needed a partner to extract, load, and transform their data. They narrowed the list down to two, with each offering a 90-day proof of concept pilot. After the pilots, “We were looking at about 6-9 months before we saw our first real component of the data warehouse that we could start reporting against and get value from. I was looking for a much, much quicker turn-around. It was at that point I’m happy to report we met Brendan and the folks at Invoke Learning.”

“When Invoke came along, they laid out what they had and their Invoke Data Lake capabilities,” says Rick. “What they were offering to do is what we were trying to do at PCOM, but in a fraction of the time with little to no resources of my own."

“I was a little skeptical at the beginning of what they were offering to do, but fast forward a few months, Invoke Learning has checked all the boxes and then some.”

“The Invoke Data Lake forms the core of what we’re doing,” says Brendan Aldrich, Co-Founder of Invoke Learning. “Around that we’re wrapping cutting-edge Artificial Intelligence, a deep understanding of education that comes from our own experience, and a focus on speed to insight to deliver value through data and our applications that sit on top of that.”

The Results

Rick describes there were three things he was primarily concerned with: time, cost, and value. “The ah-ha moment was when we met Invoke,” says Rick. “Time – 5 weeks versus 6-9 months to get something up and running and quarriable was beyond something that we even dreamed of. Cost – very, very manageable. And time to value – never did I think we could implement these technologies in a few short months let alone the first year."

“We’re super, super excited to be working with Invoke Learning... and our Institutional Research group is beyond excited.”

As Rick recalls, “I was looking at a mountain of 6-9 months to implement. When we started with Invoke, from the time we signed the contact until the data started flowing into the data warehouse, it was literally up and running in 5 weeks and queriable. And most importantly, all the heavy lifting was done by Invoke. It really took care of my staffing concerns.”

The Bottom Line

“If you asked me at the beginning of this project back in early 2021, end of 2020,” says Rick, “would I be talking about turning on an Artificial Intelligence model in this fiscal year, not even close. We far surpassed our expectations and we’re very, very excited.”

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