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Harvesting Data Efficiently

A look at how Nihilent enabled a leading school in South Africa to action their data for tangible gains.


A network of private schools launched a decade back in South Africa to bridge the education divide and foster all-around student development by adopting an innovative blended learning model. Despite the quality education it offers, the institute makes sure it is highly affordable and hence takes an all-inclusive approach with a motto- ‘education for all.’


With an aggressive expansion plan of adding more schools, the school management identified strategic objectives that factored in lots of parameters aimed at taking its blended learning to the next level of maturity and wider reach. With such an impressive growth trajectory, the school was looking at a solid technology foundation that will give it an ample digital leverage.

The main challenge the school was facing related to their digital platforms and data and related processes weren’t sufficiently equipped to support them in their growth journey and it was looking at translating data for tangible gains. For instance, the school had little experience in BI. Data was spread across multiple standards and non-standard sources which made integration of data difficult. Their CRM, Financial, Sales & Marketing, and school systems were not integrated and as a result, the data was in silos which created many functional and operational issues. This resulted in teams operating in silos and not in a collaborative manner.

It was in this backdrop the school enlisted Nihilent to take them through their digital transformation journey and have a solid and robust data bedrock to help them in achieving their objectives thereby contributing to their noble vision of getting more children to schools.


Nihilent conducted many requirement elicitation sessions with multiple stakeholders to understand their requirement vis-à-vis the school’s vision and did due diligence on how the data was spread across a multitude of standard and non-standard heterogeneous sources.

Based on information gained, Nihilent proposed a complete Microsoft Azure Cloud solution based on ELT methodology used in Modern BI Architectures where Azure Data Factory was used to gather data from heterogeneous data sources which was stored in Azure Blob Storage as raw data. This data was then moved to Azure SQL Database where various transformations were done to create a single source of truth. This data was then consumed by various Power BI semantic models which were used to generate multiple Power BI reports, thereby enabling the top management a holistic view.


The solution has provided the school administrators gainful insights, near real-time visibility of data, and also cross-business unit visibility thereby enabling a collaborative work environment through implicit information sharing via Power BI Reports.

Having a single source of truth has enabled the school to run checks to understand referancability and linkage issues across data from various business units. Identification of these issues has helped the school to take necessary steps so that their systems are well integrated and also ushered in process improvements and restructuring, thereby making their business processes more lean and efficient by removing redundancies.