American Cancer Society embraces big data

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In 2012, the American Cancer Society, one of the largest non-profit groups in the country, realized that its de-centralized organizational structure had to change. So, the ACS consolidated 13 locations (a national home office and 12 separate locations, each its own charity) into one company based in Atlanta with a dozen divisions.

The agency quickly realized that its IT structure needed an overhaul as well. The newly centralized Siebel database with 4,000 objects and 150 tables ran on 8-year-old HP-UX hardware. Reports took an average of four hours, meaning users needed a second computer for other work while reports were churning.

In March 2013, the American Cancer Society hired Blake Sanders, who brought with him 20 years of experience in business analytics and data warehousing. In the newly created position as Vice President of Architecture and Data Management, his orders were to prepare for a Big Data future. He decided to start with a data warehousing appliance to address speed and data lag, and to provide a foundation for addressing data complexity going forward.

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