When the average person on the street hears “data analytics,” their mind probably goes to some scene from Moneyball with Brad Pitt making an amazing choice for his next utility infielder based on esoteric stats handed to him by data wizard Jonah Hill. The process of how those numbers were generated, tabulated, and analyzed is left to the imagination.
In reality, data analytics sit at the tactical edge for our front-line warfighters, in the command center of battlefield leaders, and in the offices of defense policymakers. Data analytics are neither confined to a single type of decision maker nor to a single point in the life cycle of an event, battle, or decision. There is no clean line on the collection of data and its analysis…we don’t get to stop the mission while we examine what we have so far. As intelligence is collected, the analysis is creating even more data, revealing unknown correlations and insights.
Across the board (space, time, mission, etc.), we need to connect the dots. The way we do that is by becoming a broker of efficiency, which means some difficult prep work.
For a baseball general manager, he or she is presented with a vast array of data that is all measured and captured in the same way. Every baseball team, every sports reporter, every fan, and every data analyst has access to a library of statistics that are commonly understood and accessible. All they have to do is decide how to analyze that high-quality data. Those of us supporting warfighters at the edge do not have that luxury.