Efficient Ways to Manage the Exponential Growth of Data

Stephane Bourles, CIO, Brain Balance Achievement Centers
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Left Brain or Right Brain?

In a properly functioning brain, both hemispheres communicate equally and at lightning speed, millions of times per minute. In a poorly functioning brain, the left and right sides of the brain only impart partial information, causing frequent miscommunication. This is called Functional Disconnection and is the root of all types of learning, behavioral and social problems found in children. The Brain Balance program puts the left and right brains back in sync using sensory motor exercises, academic skill building, and nutrition guidelines. The program was developed using Agile/Scrum methodology on Force.com.

  ​We continuously look for new ways to analyze our exponentially growing data set, improve our overall program’s efficiency and quickly release new functionalities 

How does the Assessment Work?

The assessment consists of sensory, motor, and academic testing of more than 900 functions. The outcome of this assessment is a VisualForce report providing parents with a complete understanding of their child’s behavioral, social, and academic skill levels. All this data is collected on Force.com and we use a complex algorithm to determine which hemisphere we believe to be stronger or weaker. Then, we tailor our program based on these results with hundreds of thousands of recorded sessions

How we got here?

Thanks to many product releases, and many sprints over the past 18 months. Prior to that, all of this work was done mainly in Excel and we had no way to consolidate the data for the thousands of kids we've helped.

As the IT organization is very small, we continuously look for new ways to analyze our exponentially growing data set, improve our overall program’s efficiency and it was very important to be able to quickly release new functionalities. That is why we adopted Agile/Scrum on Force.com (since we were already using Sales cloud to manage our Sales cycle). This allowed us to release new enhancements in production every other week. We also use multiple sandboxes to test pilot programs with one of our corporate-owned centers before releasing it to our 100+ franchise centers.

What does the Future hold for Brain Balance?

The algorithm used for the assessment is not always accurate, which we know based on the feedback from our staff—yes we let them disagree with the system, which is intended as a tool to help them support their own assessment, but not to necessarily force them into a decision they don’t agree with. But as valuable as an individual observation based on years of experience is, it still remains just the view of one individual. That is why we look at Machine Learning as a new solution combining neural network architectures with massive computing power to enable our solution to learn a pattern from large datasets and make statistical predictions. Similar to clinical decision support systems helping healthcare practitioners, we believe this large dataset about children, combined with artificial intelligence, will help our coaches improve a child's initial assessment, which will then improve our overall program's results.

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