Using predictive analytics to support military readiness

April 25, 2017

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By Fred Cleveland

Predictive analytics is increasingly playing a role in the success of the commercial airlines industry. Airlines are using enormous amounts of data to improve overall performance and decrease maintenance issues. That same approach has the potential to transform our defense operations and support military readiness.

Recently, I moderated a panel at Aviation Week’s MRO Americas 2017 conference about big data in the military. We discussed the opportunities and challenges of extracting meaningful data to improve performance, and shared lessons learned from commercial airlines as they continue to strengthen their “digital muscles.” The bottom line: More precise intelligence can have positive and measurable outcomes beyond commercial applications.

In fact, the military and defense industry already has the data to analyze in support of readiness. The next phase is building a framework to understand what the data reveals and how it can translate into actionable steps that lead to longer-term objectives. How can our military embrace a proactive strategy and seamlessly transition from descriptive to predictive analytics? Here are three key “action” items to consider:

Start now. Thanks to new technologies, our military is able to respond in real time to operational commands. This information is captured and logged and can be mined for intelligence, including information that could be useful in determining whether a specific tank or fighter jet part is reaching the end of its lifespan. This knowledge encourages broader infrastructure support and appreciation for larger scale predictive programs.

Change culture. Moving from descriptive to predictive analytics requires a shift in mindset for our armed forces. The cost advantages of anticipating issues before they happen can be significant. It will take a holistic people and change effort that combines the front line, analytics talent and engineering and business personnel, who have detailed knowledge of the industry.

Fine-tune the program. Data and analytics improve over time. Launching pilot programs that can be refined to incrementally improve business outcomes is critical. There is no one size fits all. Manipulating the data in different ways and throughout each step in the process can be more effective in generating sustainable value, compared to one large-scale initiative that can often lose focus.

What’s your take on predictive analytics in military and defense? We look forward to hearing your thoughts and engaging around this concept.


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