By Jay Jesse, CEO, ISS Inc.
In the months and years to come, private sector CEOs and their leadership teams will be able, more and more, to turn to companies with defense sector pedigrees in the quest to monetize actionable insight and drive superior decision-making.
The CEO’s chief charge is to work with the C-suite and board to not only tell a good story in the next quarterly report, but spot the next year’s opportunity for profit and cost savings. The ability to analyze enterprise data on a global scale will be central to this command capacity. Big Data must shorten the path between looking for something and achieving improvement — the analysts who filter up actionable insight for leadership need to spend more time analyzing things and less time looking for them. Every hour they spend searching for data is an hour less for seizing opportunities and spotting threats to the enterprise.
Defense-sector data integration and enterprise search applications have helped defense and counterterrorism analysts “shrink the haystack” when searching for actors and predicting incidents in global crime and terrorism theaters. Meeting both stringent security requirements and the demand to connect massive amounts of data from wildly different sources to critical actions (finding the maker of IEDs in an overseas theater, for example) both set the stage for private sector applications that deliver against the bottom line.
New vistas of opportunity open daily and are as unique as the companies that can implement the solutions. I will outline a few potential applications and outcomes that illustrate how companies in three distinct sectors — healthcare, insurance and retail — can start leveraging military-grade data integration and analysis systems:
As recent security breaches have shown, a healthcare organization’s data is its very lifeblood. Hacked, it’s an existential liability. Exploited properly by role-based access, it’s a gold mine that can yield huge benefits.
The larger the data set to be connected, the more can be gained. Leadership will be able to digest analysis by region, cost center, disease and more to find better ways to allocate resources, cut waste and secure opportunities before competition sees them.
There are other applications: Over-prescription of opiates by a handful of bad actors can create damaging media narratives and invite unwanted scrutiny from regulators. To react quickly to the issue, an HMO could quickly extract all data related to oxycodone prescriptions written in North America in a given time period and display it on a geospatial heat map. Out of 1,000 prescriptions, analysts can quickly spot that 75% were written from a handful of pharmacies in a given region. This information is shared with law enforcement, who can quickly shut down the pill mills. Before, this process would have taken months. It can now be performed in hours.
Insurance companies (and all financial sector enterprises) have much to gain from quicker insight achieved through integration and enterprise search applications tailored for their mission.
To account for a wide array of mission objectives (both organizational and tactical) in ever-changing environments, military data solution providers are challenged to be as flexible as possible in tailoring their solution for individual environments. For insurance leadership looking for cash flow and cost savings edge, specialized apps can dramatically speed field-level decisions against actuarial data.
An agent employing a custom app that sits on top of enterprise search capability can get a call from a contractor seeking coverage for building development. Learning that GE appliances will be used, the agent can query normal claim rates for North American contracts, get claims on GE appliances and compare against that contractor’s claim rate. While the agent may not have to reject the contractor, he or she may apply a higher rate based on the data. The ability to do this in near-real time and resolve it during a phone call was an unheard-of capability until recently.
The 2012-2013 Global Retail Theft Barometer reported that losses from shrink, which include shoplifting, employee fraud, organized retail crime (ORC), and administrative errors, cost retailers more than $112 billion in 2012 alone, representing 1.4 percent of retail sales on average.
A clothing retailer with an international presence that wants to better understand loss patterns related to fraud and theft could leverage various integrated data sources —register, sales databases, and schedules chief among them— to perform more fruitful loss enforcement analysis.
Discovering and isolating key factors such as losses against current inventory, losses when no theft or shoplifting is reported (e.g. possible employee theft) and incidents of single employee reporting shoplifting events with no other witnesses, fraud prevention personnel would be able to make sense of the patterns and narrow their efforts to the most likely suspects for investigation, or in the case of external threats, bolster security during high-shoplifting hours. The potential gains are in the millions of dollars globally as retail leaders follow the path from content acquisition to insight.
The civilian and military sectors have always been in a state of cross-pollination. Advances in one sector are fruitfully exploited in another (the Internet comes to mind). The age of Big Data may be another chapter in this story as the performance demands of military theaters create solutions and opportunities for the boardroom and beyond.