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Company: U.S. Department of Commerce/U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Collaborators: Andrew McDonald, Patrick Washington
Overview of Use Case
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) performs many services in support of protecting intellectual property both to citizens of the United States and to the international community. Within the Trademark Organization (Trademarks), there are several information technology (IT) systems that support the business operations for Trademark application filing, prosecution, examination, registration, post-registration processes, and reporting.
Trademarks relies on data from legacy systems as the source for information that is used to inform and support all levels of executive and management planning and decision-making as well as reporting performance results, both internally and externally. The suite of existing reports and capability are not sufficient to meet our current needs and restrict our ability to perform data analysis or address requests for information. The current suite of defined reports are based on obsolete COBOL programming, Crystal reports, SQL, limited to nonexistent technical and business documentation and dependent on the institutional knowledge of a few government and contractor employees. The agency is in the process of replacing existing trademark information systems and developing commercial and open source tools to improve data access for internal and external users.
Describe the business challenge or problem you needed to solve
Trademark IT applications and systems must be able to accommodate, support, and respond to stakeholder needs as they evolve. Current Trademark systems contain aging software, tightly coupled interface architecture, limited availability and fail-over capabilities, and limited accessibility. Reliance on outdated legacy Trademark systems has negatively impacted our ability to efficiently provide Trademark data for analysis resulting in excessive manual intervention to retrieve and analyze data
Describe your working solution
The system provides Trademark analysts and stakeholders with a smart reporting interface to extract data using business friendly intelligence and analytic tools to self-manage business requirements for defining data sources, creating reports, forecasting future filings and workloads, developing queries and responding to requests. Users are provided with the tools, information resources, documentation, training and support to apply their knowledge of the business to manage routine and ad hoc requests for data in a format that is meaningful and provides a basis for advancing the organization’s ability to manage operations, serve stakeholders and forecast future requirements.
We are using Alteryx as an ETL tool, extracting data, scheduled nightly, from the legacy transactional system and loading it into an optimized data model designed specifically to support analytical efforts. Data is cleansed, harmonized and if needed, normalized, prior to being load into analytical data model. The data model is designed to allow for historical trends analysis, current status reporting and future forecasting. This can be complex since our transactional systems do not maintain historical data in all data sets. We are using Alteryx to build the history. The workflow diagram below is an example of how owner history is being captured with Alteryx.
We are using the Calgary database as the backend data model. The flexibility, capacity and ease of use of the Calgary engine just didn’t warrant the time, effort and hassle of administering a traditional backend database. However, as more systems are integrated into the model we are cognizant that a more traditional backend maybe more efficient. So far, we have not reached that point but are planning the transition anyway.
Also, Alteryx is used to access the Trademark Analytics data model and generate either dynamic reports, or source files for tableau products. Currently, two dashboards are deployed to support executive decision making. More dashboards, analytic apps and reports are being developed and deployed to satisfy the varying needs of the business.
Describe the benefits you have achieved
This grass roots effort has resulted in faster response time to data requests from our leadership and more efficient and effective ways to look at data. We have married disparate system’s data to give a more complete picture of our business and operations. Also, we are uniquely positioned to modify the system when business needs and requirements change, like when new transactional systems are deployed in production.
More than a few times, this system has allowed for an unrealized insight that is not possible with the legacy systems. This system have been developed, deployed, and is managed by Trademark personnel for the use of Trademarks personnel. No one is more qualified to work with our data set then us. Data that used to be manually manipulated within MS Excel, in hours or days, is now blended, in seconds, with Alteryx. Alteryx is the keystone component to our analytics platform.
Across the government, traditional efforts attempting to address these types of requirements have fallen short. By developing this system in house versus the traditional path, we have saved the federal government and the U.S. Taxpayers millions of dollars.
Thanks to Alteryx, we are well on our way to being the premier self-service analytics platform in the federal government managed by the people who know the data best.