Dec 16, 2020

Tableau and the USAF: data as a strategic asset

William Smith
3 min
Tableau’s Michael Parker on the benefits its data analysis and visualisation platform brings to the United States Air Force
Tableau’s Michael Parker on the benefits its data analysis and visualisation platform brings to the United States Air Force...

Data analysis and visualisation company Tableau offers its customers the capacity to make better use of the data they have. Michael Parker is VP, Business Development at the company. “ Tableau's mission is simple,” he says. “We help people see and understand their data. We provide that through a single pane of glass view of their data in a secure environment, ensuring the right people have the right access to the right data at the right time.” The security of that data is another key concern, with the company striving to fulfill that aspect while ensuring it remains accessible. “The ability to use your data in this secure environment is critical. That’s accomplished by building a data trust initiative with customers, building accuracy, timeliness, quality measures into their data and ultimately creating a culture of literacy and knowledge around data. We don't expect everyone to be a data scientist, but we do see data literacy grow across organisations.”

Parker has 34 years of experience as a public servant, having recently transitioned from the DOD, and has accordingly seen a sea change in how data is used. “Data analytics and visualisation was classically used by data analysts for descriptive analytics, predictive analytics, but mostly for measurement tools and the creation of reports. That's changed significantly now with new, powerful weapons within analytic platforms like Tableau that allow real-time decision-making for both subject matter experts and senior leaders alike to draw insights from data.”

It’s that capability that is behind Tableau’s partnership with the United States Air Force, as Parker explains. “They’re looking at data as a strategic asset and as a common service component of digital transformation. We use the tools specifically around a couple of use cases that draw a great return on investment. One was civilian hiring. We needed to understand where the choke points are, where's the lag and the slack in the process. By pulling the data in from end-to-end in that whole civilian hiring process, we could look at it through an operational lens to really understand where we were experiencing challenges. Strategic decisions made along the way ultimately compressed the timeline by two thirds.”

With chief data offices now established in each of the services, Parker believes the full value of data is now being appreciated. In standing that up, it's been recognised that data is a strategic asset and a powerful tool for both the business and warfighting domains.” The partnership has also proved its worth in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Having tools for personnel use, personnel accountability, tracking of individuals and even return to work processes was really important, and so the partnership was critical at that point.”

Parker emphasises that the partnership is built to last. “At Tableau, we plan to continue to build our partnership and understand the strategic and operational needs of the Defense Department and how the platform can help solve issues and provide capabilities in strengthening our partnership over time.” 

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Jun 18, 2021

Intelliwave SiteSense boosts APTIM material tracking

APTIM
Intelliwave
3 min
Intelliwave Technologies outlines how it provides data and visibility benefits for APTIM

“We’ve been engaged with the APTIM team since early 2019 providing SiteSense, our mobile construction SaaS solution, for their maintenance and construction projects, allowing them to track materials and equipment, and manage inventory.

We have been working with the APTIM team to standardize material tracking processes and procedures, ultimately with the goal of reducing the amount of time  spent looking for materials. Industry studies show that better management of materials can lead to a 16% increase in craft labour productivity.

Everyone knows construction is one of the oldest industries but it’s one of the least tech driven comparatively. About 95% of Engineering and Construction data captured goes unused, 13% of working hours are spent looking for data and around 30% of companies have applications that don’t integrate. 

With APTIM, we’re looking at early risk detection, through predictive analysis and forecasting of material constraints, integrating with the ecosystem of software platforms and reporting on real-time data with a ‘field-first’ focus – through initiatives like the Digital Foreman. The APTIM team has seen great wins in the field, utilising bar-code technology, to check in thousands of material items quickly compared to manual methods.

There are three key areas when it comes to successful Materials Management in the software sector – culture, technology, and vendor engagement.

Given the state of world affairs, access to data needs to be off site via the cloud to support remote working conditions, providing a ‘single source of truth’ accessed by many parties; the tech sector is always growing, so companies need faster and more reliable access to this cloud data; digital supply chain initiatives engage vendors a lot earlier in the process to drive collaboration and to engage with their clients, which gives more assurance as there is more emphasis on automating data capture. 

It’s been a challenging period with the pandemic, particularly for the supply chain. Look what happened in the Suez Canal – things can suddenly impact material costs and availability, and you really have to be more efficient to survive and succeed. Virtual system access can solve some issues and you need to look at data access in a wider net.

Solving problems comes down to better visibility, and proactively solving issues with vendors and enabling construction teams to execute their work. The biggest cause of delays is not being able to provide teams with what they need.

On average 2% of materials are lost or re-ordered, which only factors in the material cost, what is not captured is the duplicated effort of procurement, vendor and shipping costs, all of which have an environmental impact.

As things start to stabilise, APTIM continues to utilize SiteSense to boost efficiencies and solve productivity issues proactively. Integrating with 3D/4D modelling is just the precipice of what we can do. Access to data can help you firm up bids to win work, to make better cost estimates, and AI and ML are the next phase, providing an eco-system of tools.

A key focus for Intelliwave and APTIM is to increase the availability of data, whether it’s creating a data warehouse for visualisations or increasing integrations to provide additional value. We want to move to a more of an enterprise usage phase – up to now it’s been project based – so more people can access data in real time.

 

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