Mud, sweat and data: The hard work of democratizing data at scale

Effective decision-making starts with managing and analyzing surges of data across agency leaders, teams, and missions.

Rick “Ozzie” Nelson is the Senior Vice President and General Manager, Public Sector at MicroStrategy. He is responsible for public sector data analytics and business intelligence solutions to enable inventory and asset management, financial and workforce planning, and mission and operational readiness.

Rick “Ozzie” Nelson, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Public Sector, MicroStrategy

Data is the backbone of every business decision today. However, organization leaders need to ask themselves two key questions: Are the right people getting the right information to make decisions? And are they empowered with the knowledge necessary for discerning critical insights from their data to make insights actionable?

Organizations are still struggling with these objectives. According to a survey by Ventana Research, most organizations (72%) estimated that one-half or less of their workforce are using the available analytics tools when needed. That’s despite advances in business intelligence platforms that make the gathering, analyzing, and distilling of information more accessible than ever to today’s workforce. The stakes are only getting higher when it comes to democratizing enterprise data. By 2025, data creation is forecasted to surpass 180 zettabytes, more than double the amount in 2020. And the business intelligence market—which helps transform data into actionable insights—is similarly experiencing explosive growth, reaching annual sales of $43 billion by 2028.

Keeping pace with all that data and up-and-coming analytics tools is a strategic imperative for avoiding disruptions to operations and making better-informed tactical business decisions. For public sector leaders, taking a modern approach to business intelligence translates into better-executed missions. That includes adopting BI platforms that can:

  • facilitate faster decisions with action-oriented workflows,
  • offer the ability to control multi-source data at an enterprise scale,
  • improve agility with reusable object models,
  • and provide greater insight accessibility.

Broadening BI’s power

But the value and promise of business intelligence can only benefit organizations if the right users have access to the data and analytics processes. Meaning not just analysts or C-suite decision-makers but those tasked with managing and monitoring front-line tasks that drive an organization’s mission.

One challenge common to private as well as public sector organizations is the need to break down data silos. In the past, the primary users of BI tools and applications were the IT departments. But as BI tools have become more interactive, intuitive, and user-friendly, new levels of data integration and collaboration between IT and business owners have become possible. Those advances are also fueling greater data democratization by unearthing insights historically trapped in data silos.

The experts at Ventana Research write, “Adopting user-friendly techniques such as natural language processing and augmented intelligence help deliver insights that are easier to understand. And by generating insights automatically and delivering them in ways that are easily accessible and understood by the workforce, it will increase the benefits of the data an organization collects and processes.”

Access to timely and reliable data and analytics is critical to the success of any enterprise—whether it’s in finance, contracting, operations, or logistics and supply chain. Organizations can no longer afford to cultivate an inner circle of data experts; instead, they need to cultivate expertise throughout their entire workforce.  

Shortening the hiring cycle.

We’ve seen how the use of real-time data and available AI tools can transform decision-making in a variety of applications. One example, with wide applicability, involves federal hiring practices. Hiring talent for mission-critical positions can take many months, and vacancies can overwhelm staff and jeopardize mission delivery.

That was the case for a federal law enforcement agency, which at one point faced more than 1,000 vacancies across different job functions. So the agency’s Human Resources department leveraged MicroStrategy’s BI platform and an ML-prediction model that forecasted vacancies and how long it would take to bring new employees on board. Supervisors were then given data ownership to forecast staffing plans and analytic tools to identify more productive decision-making factors. Within a year, vacancies were reduced by 80%.

Thumbs-up all around.

As of November 2022, MicroStrategy obtained FedRAMP certification, which means more opportunities for agencies to benefit from our cloud-based analytics platform. The certification will allow us to continue helping government customers make data-driven decisions on a larger scale by leveraging the latest offerings of BI platforms and tools.

But the real benefit comes when organization leaders put data and analytics tools into the hands of everyone in the workforce, from the office to the field, and teach them the best data practices for improved mission capabilities. One federal agency said in a MicroWorld public sector webinar that “[data] has become so ingrained in our business operations that we now have product managers to serve as the bridge between the technology, the training, and the people leveraging that data to ensure that it’s used strategically and delivers the best business outcomes.”

Another example involved managing the flow of daily reports at the Transportation Security Administration. Using MicroStrategy’s BI platform, TSA was able to deliver more than 45,000 reports per day to more than 40,000 users. According to a TSA executive in a recent webinar. “It supports a full suite of reporting styles, and we find that’s very helpful in being able to provide airport operations data where and when it’s needed. There’s just so much information in the tool—we have recognized over $18 million in cost savings and avoidance each year using it,” he said.

On top of FedRAMP Certification, MicroStrategy enterprise analytics platform earned top marks with Gartner analysts this past May for the platform’s outstanding reporting, security, governance and catalogs, and enterprise analytics capabilities, scoring well above the market average on all four of these enterprise analytics capabilities. Analysts noted MicroStrategy’s governance capability was powerful at telemetry, usage analytics, and facilitating the promotion of certified content; for security, MicroStrategy “offers best-in-class auditing, authentication and authorization.”

Learn more about how we can help your organization unlock the business value of your data at World23. This four-day conference features keynote events, 80+ sessions on enterprise and embedded analytics, and education courses for platform users.

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