A BI Journey: Experiences & Lessons for Anyone Wanting to ‘Fish’ for Useful Data

10 6, 2016

Successful management and protection of a region’s fish stocks is highly dependent on key decision makers having access to the right information in order to make the best and most informed decisions.   

By analysing the large and complex sets of fisheries data that is collected we are able to identify these valuable insights for the protection and management of the fisheries themselves. The discipline, which consists of the techniques and tools required for this deep analysis, is the practice of ‘business intelligence’.

Business Intelligence (or simply ‘BI’) can be broadly defined as sharing a number of basic characteristics, including:

  • Software applications used to analyse an organisation’s raw data
  • A technology-driven process for analysing data and presenting actionable information to help individuals and organisations make more informed business decisions
  • A report on data from any number of internal and external sources

We have been working with the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (SPRFMO) to develop and implement a series of ‘BI’ solutions to assist in the collection and management of their fisheries data. This project was a great opportunity for us to further explore the world of ‘business intelligence’ and learn from the experience of implementing this discipline in a fisheries context.  Continue reading for more about just three of the lessons we learned from the project.

3 Key Lessons:

1.  Choosing a method for data collection:

Providing the means and method for an organisation to collect their data in a way that can be easily adopted and fit in with their existing process and current environment is crucial.

For SPRFMO we needed a tech-lite means of capturing the data which would suit the needs of the fishermen and/or observers on board their vessels. The solution needed to offer a method of collection that required neither Internet connection nor a steep learning curve. From this, we arrived at a solution that would allow SPRFMO, as the eventual recipients of this data, to upload spreadsheets of data that could be quickly populated on board a vessel, and then tidied up when back on dry land. Ensuring your client and/or data collection teams can collect the data easily and in a cohesive manner will help guarantee that all data is not only collected but is also done correctly.  

2. Pictures tell a thousand words: 

During the project we discovered that the ability to correlate and connect all relevant data to a specific fishing event visually was what would yield the most value for SPRFMO.  

This became particularly apparent when we harnessed the power of data visualisation via Microsoft’s a mapping tool, Power Map. The ability to visualise all fishing events geographically while connecting the event to what was fished, how it was fished and who fished it exposed previously hidden patterns and insights which ultimately delivered the most value for SPRFMO.

3. Which BI tool to use? 

Upon embarking on this journey we didn’t have a particular product or provider in mind but through research and testing, we discovered Microsoft’s suite of self-service BI products was able to offer us everything we needed. It also had the added benefit of not costing us anything above our Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus licence as well as being easy to pick up and learn how to use.

It really does depend on your needs and what exactly you want to use the BI tools to do but for us, Microsoft’s suite of tools suited us well. Our white paper, ‘Fishing for Data: Business Intelligence in the High Seas’ gives a full breakdown of each of Microsoft’s BI tools and the pros and cons of using each which may help you figure out if they could be a good fit for your project.

For more insights and valuable information around the collection and analysis of fisheries data, download a copy of our white paper which describes our journey in more detail and delves further into details about the project.

If you have any questions, either around fisheries data or BI tools and practices, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Download the full white paper

Back to top