How do you create a unified view of data for the largest operating budget in the world? This was the challenge facing the Department of Defense (DoD), with an operating budget that is comprised of thousands of business and accounting systems, which relies on large flows of data from many external systems and sources. Today, the DoD’s strategy as a data-centric organization means prioritizing data interoperability as a key requirement and putting that data to work to solve its most complex challenges. With the deployment of Advana, a central hub for advanced analytics, the DoD has moved to the forefront as a model data-powered organization.
Up until the early- and mid-2000s, not every employee at the DoD was able to access data and analytics systems, as technological and geographical constraints made this difficult. Conducting an accurate and comprehensive financial audit was once a decades-long challenge. With Advana, the DoD is able to combine 1,200 systems into one central platform for data and analytics, simplifying more than 3,000 business systems and tracking everything from finance to infrastructure.
At a recent public sector user conference for Qlik, Nick Lanham, who is the Senior Financial Systems Analyst at the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense-Comptroller (OUSD-C), shared some insight on the DoD’s mission in working with Qlik to advance its Advana program: “We are working to help our senior leadership in the Department connect to those authoritative data sources that they need to make data-driven decisions. Our visualization layer is Qlik, and we do a lot of development in Qlik in both the back end and the front end.”
James Dawes, Lead on Data Science as a Service, explained how the Advana program uses two APIs offered by Qlik – server-side extensions (SSEs) and mashups – to extend data interoperability capabilities. With Qlik’s SSEs, a backend system can access functions in another system as if it were in its own system – for example, a user can run any data, whether it is Python, C++, or Java, all together at once. With Qlik’s mashups, a user can take content from several sources to create a new service displayed in a single graphical interface.
These APIs are being used to create dashboards that analyze data across different parameters and feed a predictive model so that the DoD can visualize potential outcomes of different actions that senior leaders may be able to take. In building out this standard set of tools, Dawes says, “We have found it to be extremely flexible and, if used correctly, it could be extremely fast.” One tool that the DoD is working on is an AI query system, where multi-step questions can be answered in just one or two clicks.
The DoD has also successfully used Advana to track stocks of PPE across various federal agencies throughout the COVID-19 crisis, allowing the DoD to share resources with agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The DoD hopes to continue to use this model of data share in future disaster support efforts.
As we move into an increasingly data-focused world, data superiority will be a factor in both military advantages and in creating new strategic and tactical opportunities. As the DoD states in its Data Strategy, “Survival on the modern battlefield will depend upon leveraging and making connections among data from diverse sources, using analytic tools for superior situational awareness, and coordinating information for disaggregated-precision effects.”
To learn more about how the DoD solved its data challenges with the Advana data platform, click here to sign up for the webinar “How Self-Service Data Preparation Enables the Most Complex Audit in the World”.