Connecting Data Silos and Achieving Your Data Mission

During yesterday’s webinar “Connecting Data Silos to Create an Actionable View of Your Data” Nicholas Skytland, Data Evangelist for NASA, said it so simply, quoting Daniel Keys Morgan, “you can have data without information, but you cannot have information without data.”

Data is an integral part of making any agency successful on all of its platforms. As organizations’ needs change and develop, data can disperse throughout different silos making it nearly impossible to locate. This hidden data can become a nightmare for users when they are trying to efficiently analyze information.

Thankfully, Nicholas Skytland and Kevin Morgan, Senior Technical Director for MarkLogic, took users through step-by-step comprehensive approaches to connecting data silos and solving “Wicked Problems.”

So what’s a “Wicked Problem?”

Nicholas Skytland described how “Wicked Problems” occur from an increased collection of unstructured data. It’s unknown data that “lives beneath the surface,” remaining hidden. The problem is hard to solve because it is hard to identify and can’t be understood until after a solution is formulated. Confusing, right?

Skytland walked users though 6 steps that he used at NASA to prevent “Wicked Problems” and data challenges. And the great news is YOU can use these steps too:


  • Modernize the Data Management Environment: Stating the need for this can bring senior leaders to recognize the need for stronger data management. Once the need is established a plan can be put into place.


  • Define a Unified Data Lifecycle: When trying to solve a data issue it can be difficult to communicate between different agencies because each department may have a different language they use for technology. Someone may refer to data as knowledge and another person may call it information. Establishing a common vocabulary throughout the data lifecycle will allow agencies to better manage and navigate their data.


  • Establish Agency-Wide Data Governance: Agencies need to have common standards in the way they manage their data. It doesn’t mean one person or group of people have complete control over decision making processes, it means there will be a common ground for data investment levels at the agency.


  • Create a Data Analytics Lab: Agencies need to develop a capability to analyze data to meet challenges ahead. To successfully do this, agencies will need to set intensive framework to support their data-driven solutions for operational needs.



  • Establish a Data Fellows Program: This aids in an agency’s analytics lab. Establish a constant flow of data engineers to track agency needs. Supporting that talent and encouraging analysts to use their skills to solve the challenges of the agency allows for growth and easy problem solving.


  • Formalize the role of the Data Steward: There’s a role in government and within government projects and programs where people are working with data. They might not have the latest tools and vocabulary to deal with that data but they recognize what the data is and they are working to solve those data issues. It is important to acknowledge and establish those roles within each agency.

Still unsure how your agency can solve its data woes? Enterprise Data Layering (EDL) could be the perfect solution for you. Kevin Morgan explained how MarkLogic makes connecting data easy and affordable.

Agencies are constantly growing and so their missions are changing. To achieve each mission a company creates a data silo. Now agencies need to cross data silos to fulfill their certain tasks and problems. With the increased complexity it is costing agencies more time and money to maintain their data.

With MarkLogic’s EDL, data can stay in its silos but the data layer in the middle pulls all the data into a single repository. The EDL gives agencies the ability to quickly search and get access to information while maintaining the critical need to secure the data.

According to Morgan, “MarkLogic increased the efficiency and productivity of the analyst. Now rather than going on a data hunting mission to find all the data they need, and that being the primary challenge, now the analysts have the information at their fingertips and can respond a lot quicker. Providing better information into the operator’s hand allowed better achievement of the mission.”

For more information on how to better achieve your data mission view the training on-demand here.


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