Smarter Data Analytics Takes More than Just New Technology
Government agencies capture or create oceans of data—by some estimates, the DoD alone generates tens of terabytes daily, and globally, it’s expected that 200+ zettabytes of data will be in cloud storage around the globe by 2025.
But raw data is just that: unfiltered, uncategorized, and often inaccessible. It’s only when it is indexed, measured and analyzed that decision makers can get some value out of it. Turning data into information is crucial for situational awareness, business operations, and policy creation.
The private healthcare sector offers a prime example of how a smarter use of data could have a tremendous real-world impact. A hospital system using artificial intelligence (AI) can predict which patients may develop sepsis, a life-threatening reaction to an infection. With this tool, the healthcare system’s clinical IT experts helped save approximately 8,000 lives over the past five years. In other words, data analysis drives better outcomes.
That’s a key point. For healthcare systems, behind every data point, there’s a patient involved. The analytics are helping to improve people’s lives.
Identifying Barriers to Data Access
Data analytics can be summed up as making sure agency personnel are getting complete information to inform their decision making, exactly when needed. But data transparency issues can make it difficult to reach that goal:
- Silos—whether due to legacy technology, policy, or security requirements—drastically limit the use of common data. Intra- and cross-agency barriers to data sharing can keep analysts from seeing the full range of information.
- How data is captured and categorized can cause issues with data sharing. How an organization stores data—for example, with different units of measure or unique identifiers—may make it difficult to connect this information with other sources.
- Data is often repurposed; facts and figures captured for a single-purpose analysis may be applied to unrelated areas, which can skew results.
Providing leaders with clear, complete knowledge is essential to delivering on mission goals and creating better outcomes—whether that means improved patient care or better use of budgets and resources.
Is Technology the Answer?
The move to modernize systems across government can certainly help make data more available, and processing the enormous volume of data generated every minute can be supported by AI or machine learning (ML). But a productive data environment takes more than advanced technology.
Both people and technology play important roles; automation can accurately process information around the clock while people can understand nuance—and apply empathy and understanding of the mission. The combination of human and machine can be the best of both worlds.
In every case, a skilled analyst is needed to understand the outputs of automation to inform and guide decision makers.
Getting to Answers
To create an environment where data can be trusted, start by defining the desired outcome; that is, what is the problem you want to solve and how do you tap into all those streams of data? Then look at how to infuse that data into driving organizational change. The big question to ask is, “Is the information we’re collecting and analyzing aligned with our strategic plan?”
It helps to have data experts at the table early on, to help determine how to leverage the resources you have available and identify gaps. It’s also essential to have an expert partner that can uplevel your capabilities.
MDC has the hands-on experience to help you plan, implement and sustain a more effective data solution. Our direct knowledge of agency environments and workflows ensure we can help you develop an effective roadmap.
While you may have generalists to support day-to-day business operations, sometimes you need specific expertise. MDC’s specialists, including skilled statisticians and analysts, can deliver the insights and outcomes you need. We can also support your move to new technologies, including AI and ML, and set you up to get the most from them.
The right combination of advanced technology and skilled people can take you from data to information—and fuel your journey to mission success.