Joint Munitions Command implements new analytical techniques

By Rob Kitchen, Joint Munitions CommandJune 27, 2023

Joint Munitions Command implements new analytical techniques
There are seven goals that lead to high quality data, and they form the acronym VAULTIS — make data Visible, Accessible, Understandable, Linked, Trustworthy, Interoperable, and Secure. (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL

The Joint Munitions Command, headquartered at the Rock Island Arsenal, is focused on becoming a more data-centric organization.

JMC has embraced leveraging new analytical techniques and software to upgrade or pair with existing business processes.

AMC, JMC, and several other major subordinate commands have invested capital, time, and manpower in Business Intelligence (BI) tools and training. JMC, as well as the Army, is dedicated to embedding data and analytics principles into each level of decision making, and to building tools that save time, improve accuracy, and provide higher levels of clarity to leadership.

So, where does an organization start? How can data be leveraged this way, and what tools can analysts be armed with to manipulate it?

The first step is setting a strong standard for all data that is recorded and analyzed. There are seven goals that lead to high quality data, and they form the acronym VAULTIS — make data Visible, Accessible, Understandable, Linked, Trustworthy, Interoperable, and Secure.

Having access to quality data allows JMC employees to confidently analyze it using a variety of BI tools. Obtaining BI tools and empowering employees to become competent in them leads to data applications that benefit the command.

There is a plethora of BI tools on the market today, each with their own quirks and features, use cases, and learning curves. A common one that is ubiquitous to many federal employees is Microsoft Excel, which allows users to browse, analyze, and present data in a familiar spreadsheet format. This program is great at what it does and will certainly see continued use even as data and analytics matures at JMC, but there are other tools that might be used in conjunction with or instead of Excel. It all depends on what the user is trying to accomplish. BI tools, like many other pieces of software, ebb and flow in and out of use and JMC currently utilizes three primary tools other than Excel.

Vantage is one such example. This is a cloud-based platform which consists of several individual BI tools. Vantage boasts one of the most effortless sharing capabilities for visualizations that members of JMC workforce create. Like all the BI tools JMC uses, there is a learning curve, but users do not need to be data engineers to take advantage of Vantage’s benefits.

A Vantage product that sees regular use is a Command Dashboard that has been developed and updated over several months. Metrics important to each JMC directorate reside here and are shared with leadership throughout the organization, allowing at-a-glance checks on indicators and flags at any time.

Another BI tool in use at JMC is Microsoft Power BI. While the command is still in the early stages of propagating the use of this tool, it has the unique distinction of being part of the Microsoft ecosystem. This gives it the ability to seamlessly hook into existing apps like Excel and Teams, and some JMC installations and other Army organizations have demonstrated very impressive dashboards using this.

The third BI tool being utilized by JMC is Tableau. This software has a unique and very simple yet powerful system of drag-and-drop “pills” for data visualization. This structure gives this program one of the lowest skill floors required to create and share dashboards yet retains a high skill ceiling for advanced users who want more customization.

One Tableau product JMC uses regularly is a Directorate or Installation Dashboard. This is similar to the Command Dashboard built in Vantage, where multiple datasets are connected and presented in one space, allowing the audience to quickly see metrics and data that matters to them.

All these BI tools have collective online spaces that simplify sharing and browsing analyses and visualizations to a link, rather than emails or offline files that might be out of date. To stifle confusion and so that users do not need to remember where each BI tool’s products are located, these shared spaces can be found on a Workspace built in Vantage, which acts as a hub or repository for JMC data and analytics.

The journey to becoming a truly data-centric organization is a marathon, not a sprint. Through JMC’s leadership, data strategy, and especially its people, the command has set out to wield data and analytics to remain ready, reliable, and lethal.