Predictive Analytics: Move Decision-Making from Hindsight to Foresight

New tools and strategies help defense organizations make better use of the data they are already collecting.

Data has long been one of the most valuable, undersold resources that defense organizations possess. Successful organizations collect tons of data every day, typically in silos like training, personnel, equipment, or supply chains. For many organizations, breaking down the barriers separating those silos to use that data to see a larger picture has always been an aspirational goal. With today’s advanced analytic technology, this goal is now within reach. Using predictive analytics, defense organizations can not only look back on past processes to improve efficiency — they can use data to look forward, determine probabilities and make projections.                                                

With recent breakthroughs in data science, predictive analytics are technologically-feasible, practical and cost-effective. Analysis that used to take months to process now can be done instantly, allowing defense organizations to more easily make forward-thinking strategic decisions about readiness, manpower, intelligence, logistics and other concerns. This could be a game-changer for federal agencies. By utilizing techniques developed in the public and private sectors, defense organizations are poised to make a successful transition from hindsight to foresight.

First, organizations must leap into the modern era. Collecting data has never been the problem — most defense organizations already house more data than they know what to do with. Unfortunately, many still rely on older approaches towards data and analytics that were developed before the emergence of big data. Different types of structured and unstructured data sit in silos in different departments and locations. Managing it all is expensive, time-consuming and required a wholly different type of skill set. Rarely is this data directly connected to decision makers.

Advances in data science and technology has made this task possible. Bringing all of this information together no longer requires organizations to laboriously build brand new, unique databases to store and manage disparate types of data. New user-friendly tools like automation, open architectures and machine learning allow leaders to democratize their data and tailor it to specific departments, making it easier to analyze and more accessible to the entire organization. Organizations can make their data go further.

The benefits of doing so are clear; integrating all of the information at an organization’s disposal can open it up to find new patterns and relationships within the data, ask new types of questions and develop new strategies. Further, such practices eventually pay for themselves by helping to analyze cost benefits and improving process efficiencies, as well as reducing the costs of data storage manpower and infrastructure.

The defense community is well-positioned to step into the next era of predictive analytics. By modernizing tools, systems and infrastructures, organizations can capitalize on the data they are already collecting and use it to advance analytics and predict challenges. Booz Allen Hamilton worked with early adopters in government to develop these data science breakthroughs, and is now helping forward-thinking government organizations leverage analytics to support mission success.

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