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LUT Universities Group takes a giant leap in data warehousing

In recent years, the higher education sector of Lappeenranta has been reformed through mergers. The new LUT Group was facing a challenge: how to harmonise and modernise reporting?

LUT University, known for its technology and business education, merged with the Saimaa and Lahti Universities of Applied Sciences in 2018. These two universities of applied sciences merged in 2020 to form the massive LAB University of Applied Sciences. The need for unified data warehousing and reporting for the new LUT Group was acute.

– We wanted agility and speed for the entire reporting chain. Information relevant to management should be up to date and easily accessible. Above all, we wanted architecture of the future, and the supplier was required to have a high level of automation expertise in building the Data Vault 2.0 data warehouse, says Antti Sirviö, Head of Information Management at LUT University.

Following a competitive bidding process, Netum was chosen to build a new cloud-based data warehouse solution. A modern, centralised data platform was created for the Microsoft Azure environment. The analysis and utilisation of data in decision-making became even stronger priorities in data processing. Machine learning and artificial intelligence applications were enabled for future needs.

– The new data platform is modern and flexible for different implementations. The processes are now uniform, but it is still easy to take into account the slightly different needs and habits of the university and the university of applied sciences in the reporting, says Antti.

In the first phase, from September 2020 to January 2021, the reporting needs were mapped and conceptual models were drawn. Now, as the cooperation continues in phase two, the solution will be expanded, new areas will be modelled and harnessed for production use by adding data and data sources from different business units.

Keys in the hands of the customer: LUT trained as an administrator

Data warehousing projects have a reputation for being slow and difficult. From the point of view of administration, an exceptionally modern solution was implemented for LUT Group. The customer was trained as an expert in the D# automation tool and the Azure environment in order to be able to carry out maintenance work and add conceptual models. LUT University’s IT Project Manager Miia-Maarit Heiniluoto is grateful for the flexible approach.

– You learn best by doing so, as a customer, it is very beneficial to be in a role where you can build a data warehouse yourself in the future. At the same time, we receive full support from the supplier for the development work, says Miia-Maarit.

The project’s target schedules were met, and common ground was quickly found in communication as well.

– This was an exceptionally smooth IT project: there were no delays, the meetings were efficient and all the goals we set for the supplier were met. In addition to the technical expertise, we found the interaction to be excellent. In particular, the training was very informative, says Miia-Maarit.

The significance of knowledge-based management in higher education will only grow in the future. The goal is to further develop multidimensional data processing.

– Scenario-based predictions and modelling trends are applications for which the data warehouse could be utilised someday. Artificial intelligence and machine learning have not yet been widely used in the world of higher education, but the time will surely come, Antti says.

Cerion Solutions Oy, that nowadays belongs to Netum Group Plc, was responsible for the execution. Netum Group Plc purchased the entire share capital of Cerion Solutions Oy on 1 October 2021. Under the new organisational structure, the employees and operations of Cerion transferred to Netum Ltd on 1 October 2022, and Cerion Solutions Oy officially merged with Netum Ltd as of 31 January 2022.