McLaren Drive the way to Compelling Data Management

Stephen Rose, Solutions Architect for McLaren Applied technologies ,explains the data management solution McLaren built to manage and distil a huge volume of  data around racing down into a set of configurable dashboards.

"We were facing a number of challenges at McLaren. One of them was having engineers being able to find data when they needed it, knowing exactly where the data was and being able to compare that to any other data sets that they were interested in. 

We have data at a number of different sites, including our  headquarters and at the track side. We needed to be able to compare and contrast data sets from all of these different locations. We wanted to have one version of the truth, so that if you were looking at a piece of data you would know that it was the latest piece of data and correct. These were some of the challenges we were trying to overcome when producing our system.

We’ve really focused on understanding the information a user wants to see on a dashboard. We try very hard to find ways to translate data into information which can then be used to make a decision. When we’re designing dashboards and creating systems we’re always very focused on the decisions that will be made and understanding the information users need to get from any given dashboard, so that they don’t have to do any processing in their heads. This way a user only has to look at  one particular display in order to get enough information to be able to make a decision, or get the understanding they need. 

We bring everything together in the most concise way possible focusing very heavily on visualisation and how best to display that data so that it transmits the most accurate and factual representation of the data.

We often also try and make the extra step from actionable information to prescriptive information, so where possible we can actually suggest the action that should be taken based on the data. This particularly helps in times when you need to make a quick decision, but does also help to remove some of the ambiguities that can be created when decisions are made. 

Business rules and anything else that’s being taken into consideration when a decision is being made can also be added into the dashboard. This helps with decision consistency, and helps the business understand what’s behind any decision that’s been made. We always have the ability to drill down into any aggregated number or data set that you see, but we aim at the highest level to present the minimum amount of information that’s needed for somebody to make a decision.

My advice around data management is to make sure you’re getting the most out of the data you do have. Lots of people have data, and not just in pharmaceutical but in all the industries we see, there’s a lot of data.  But actually extracting value from that data is a step that we don’t see many people taking. Instead of focusing necessarily on collecting more data and getting more data integrated into one system, making sure you’re extracting the maximum value from the data you do have is a very good first step and something I’d like to see a lot more people doing.”

 Written by Niamh Madigan

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