Data, analytics community discusses priorities at recent summit  

By Sara Moore, DLA Information Operations

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The Defense Logistics Agency data and analytics community came together for a two-day summit Feb. 26-27 at DLA Headquarters to discuss the prioritization of data and analytics requirements, capabilities, challenges and the future of DLA data as new technologies emerge.

Hosted by DLA Information Operations Strategic Data Services, the first Data and Analytics Strategy Summit brought together representatives from DLA Finance, DLA Logistics Operations, DLA major subordinate commands, and DLA Information Operations’ Analytics Center of Excellence and Program Executive Office. 

The data and analytics community has been honing its approval and prioritization process for several months and meeting weekly to address agency requirements from the functional community, said Lindsey Saul, lead analytics strategist in DLA Information Operations Strategic Data Services. DLA Logistics Operations representatives collect customer requests for data and analytics services and determine which to complete and in what order. After prioritization, requests are transferred to the appropriate project teams for action. Saul said the summit addressed how the future landscape will impact the process and DLA requirements.

“We wanted to continue to hone the current approval/prioritization process for data and analytics requirements with a holistic enterprise perspective, but also discuss activities and events that might impact the way forward for our data and analytics strategy and how/if we should change course,” she said.  

DLA is working to maximize the effectiveness of the agency’s data sources while operating with a reduced budget. As such, partnership and collaboration were key themes of the summit, as technicians, analysts, business process owners and leaders from throughout the agency shared ideas, success stories and challenges. 

The summit allowed members from different functional areas with different missions to hear each other’s perspectives and problem solve in real time with a lot of valuable input, Saul said. While the group meets regularly by phone, the in-person interaction was invaluable and helped attendees understand each other, she said.

“It helped folks understand others’ priorities and why they might be racked and stacked above theirs from an agency perspective,” Saul said. “While the virtual work environment has helped our community significantly, the value of seeing and hearing colleagues across a physical table cannot be underestimated. It helped put faces to voices; we saw the leaders from different process areas/MSCs pairing together and exchanging information. That may not have happened by phone meetings alone.”

The summit highlighted the quality of work being done by the data and analytics community across the enterprise, the number of opportunities to collaborate and combine efforts, the many avenues to get data and analytics work done, and the changing nature of their work, Saul said.

“The architecture, tools and technologies for the community are evolving, but we cannot lose sight of the fundamental undertaking of improving our data quality first and foremost,” she said, adding that the summit will be held annually or biannually as data and analytics strategies continue to be refined.