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Ensuring the DoD Data Strategy is “Intelligent”


Iron Mountain

Ensuring the DoD Data Strategy is “Intelligent”

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Data. It underpins digital modernization while simultaneously fueling every process and weapons system deployed by the Department of Defense (DoD) and has played an increasingly central role to warfighters’ advantage on and off the battlefield.

To address today’s data-driven digital modernization requirement, the Pentagon released its first enterprise data strategy which focuses on accelerating the DoD's transition to "a data-centric organization that uses data at speed and scale for operational advantage and increased efficiency." 

According to former Defense Department CIO Dana Deasy, the main challenge to achieve the data strategy objectives is not only about getting data. The DoD has access to vast data reserves, but it needs to build the engine to turn this resource into useful insight for service members at the speed they need. 

The official data strategy – which includes eight guiding principles, four essential capabilities, seven goals, and 33 objectives related to enterprise data management – aims to enhance the accuracy of DoD’s information. This will help provide decision-makers with precise data-driven insights. 

Ultimately, this new data strategy ensures information is quickly accessible for the DoD to take prompt action with less risk of error.

The Need for Intelligent Content: How The DoD Can Elevate its New Data Strategy

To accelerate its efforts in shifting to a data-centric organization, there are a few options the DoD should consider adopting. Intelligent content services should however be at the top of that list. 

Through an enterprise software approach, intelligent content services deliver the right content to the right user at the right time on the right device. By pinpointing data in this way, the DoD can make better informed decisions. It’s through this intelligent content approach that the DoD can convert unstructured data into contextually-aware and interoperable structured data. So, unstructured data sources such as paper, images, text or video would become structured, and content creators could enrich the data by using tags and metadata based on mission requirements. 

Leveraging structured data offers a more robust mechanism to communicate information with key decision-makers.

Applying an Intelligent Content Services Approach

To help paint a more vivid picture of how an intelligent content service can impact the DoD’s data strategy, let's look at an example of unstructured data like paper documents. 

First, convert paper-based files into electronic data by scanning images from sources that would be otherwise inaccessible. This process aligns with the strategy’s data collection guiding principle, which states that the “DoD must enable the electronic collection of data at the point of creation and maintain the pedigree of that data at all times.”

Once all paper-based files are converted to electronic formats, the DoD could create form and structure by extracting data and metadata from unstructured electronic sources. By pulling out high-quality data sets, machine learning algorithms can examine large amounts of unstructured data to identify specific elements such as dates, part numbers, and usernames. 

From there, data analysts can conduct preliminary reviews to verify the data and metadata associated with a specific piece of information, and adjust the data classification appropriately by adding mission-related context. This last step is in line with the DoD’s five guiding data strategy principles:

  • Data for artificial intelligence training

  • Data stewardship

  • Data ethics

  • Data fit for purpose

  • Data design for compliance

After training these machine learning models, the DoD can scan large volumes of data at laser speeds and then classify, tag, and organize for easy analysis and smooth integration. As new unstructured electronic data moves in, this model continually trains and adjusts itself for improved analysis and intelligence. An added bonus is that the DoD can now ensure the necessary tags are applied to comply with regulatory requirements.

The final step is searching, linking, and finding correlations among the intelligent content. It’s through these data synchronizations that it’s possible to identify potential risks, detect data anomalies or events, and automate error-prone workflows. These search capabilities can leverage existing Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and visualization technologies that defense agencies might already have in place to unleash the data across multiple platforms. This last step aligns with the DoD’s remaining two data strategy guiding principles – enterprise-wide data access and availability, as well as utilizing data as a strategic asset. No longer is simply finding information enough. The real value comes from extracting and delivering the right data at just the right time for increased productivity across the defense enterprise. It’s about making data a strategic asset and how converting it to an easily accessible electronic and categorized system ensures the DoD’s Data Strategy is “intelligent.”

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