By: Sean Robinson, Program Chair, Predictive Analytics World for Government

In anticipation of his upcoming conference presentation, From Wisdom to Insight: Driving William_SaxonStrategic Decision Making with Predictive Analytics, at Predictive Analytics World for Government, Oct 13-16, 2015, we asked COL William "Bobby" Saxon, Chief, Force Management Enterprise Division, Force Management Directorate, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff Department of the Army, a few questions about his work in predictive analytics.

Q: How would you characterize your agency's current and/or planned use of predictive analytics?  What is one specific way in which predictive analytics actively drives decisions in your agency?

A: The US Army is actively pursuing predictive analytic solutions in multiple areas. Most notably we are looking at soldier health and welfare specifically with regard to suicide prevention. We are encouraged by our early work and see potential for identifying groups of soldiers at the highest risk to allow us to intervene early to assist the soldier. Our concern for soldier privacy is high which challenges us to balance the risk with the rewards in this area. Other areas that predictive analytics may be valuable are with maintenance and readiness. Both areas directly impact our ability to defend the nation. Predictive analytics may help us reduce our maintenance downtime and see ourselves better with regards to readiness.

Q: Can you describe the challenges you face or have already overcome in establishing a data-driven environment in your agency?

A: The Army has come a long way in the last decade with capturing, managing, sharing, and utilizing data to assist decision makers. Multiple efforts driven by the Secretary of the Army and the Army CIO/G-6 have increased data quality and identification. We still have a ways to go but our environment is much more data friendly today that just a few years ago.

Q: Can you discuss any near term goals you have for improving your agency's use of predictive analytics?

A: Several organizations within the Army are actively pursuing predictive analytic solutions. Efforts revolve around suicide prevention, maintenance, readiness, and manning. Our hope is to see these efforts mature to allow us to reap benefits not commonly found with basic analytics. If so, these successes should encourage others across the Army to delve into predictive analytics.

Q: Sneak preview: Please tell us a take-away that you will provide during your talk at Predictive Analytics World for Government.

A: Consuming large amounts of previously tightly held data is challenging. I will speak to the governance and political challenges associated with building a data system for business intelligence, analytics and eventually predictive and prescriptive analytics.

Tasked with providing the Army with access to visual, actionable analytics, COL Bobby Saxon led the redesign of the Enterprise Management Decision Support (EMDS) system to provide a strategic view of readiness for Army Leaders. The system gives brings together disparate data to provide one access point with valuable analytic displays. But this is only the beginning. With the vast amount of historical data the system brings together, the ability to forecast readiness and provide predictive models for future readiness is essential. During this session, COL Saxon will describe the ways he worked across the army to create EMDS, and the way forward for predictive analytics, as well as discussing the “art of the possible” that drives his vision for the program.


Don't miss COL Saxon’s conference presentation, From Wisdom to Insight: Driving Strategic Decision Making with Predictive Analytics on October 13, 2015 from 11:20 am to 12:05 pm at Predictive Analytics World for Government. Click here to register to attend.

By: Sean Robinson, Program Chair, Predictive Analytics World for Government