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Defence Data Management Strategy Overview

Defence Digital have released their Data Management Strategy.

The Defence Data Management Strategy sets out the ways the MOD will attempt to use data driven technologies to enable both operational advantage and business transformation. Indeed, the strategy acknowledges that Defence needs to ‘grow its data capabilities’ to ensure it can continue to support the demand and keep pace with allies and adversaries. As an all-encompassing strategy, the Data Management Strategy applies to all Defence data, regardless of whether this is Core Defence Data, which is used across Defence or Non-Core Defence Data. While the strategy deals with the management of the data, Defence data priorities will be set by the Defence Functions, Top Level Budgets / Front Line Commands and Arm’s Length Bodies.

The vision behind the strategy  is a “Defence Data Environment (DDE) and culture that delivers timely, accurate and trustworthy data, managed by business Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and accessible to all who have a right to use it, complimented by strong governance and a skilled workforce that supports innovation and exploitation.” Achievement of such a vision would naturally see data managed and made available through a network of data service providers that manage the quality and accessibility of our data on behalf of data owners and stewards, through which Defence will be able to see a complete data catalogue for defence.  

For this vision to be successful, Defence will have to be a more data-driven organisation, enhancing its existing data capabilities and establishing new services to create opportunities for wider data exploitation. To help achieve this a set of Data Management Core Principles have been written to underpin the strategy. These are:

  1. All Defence Data is owned
  2. All Defence Data is secure
  3. All Defence Data is managed through life
  4. Only trusted Defence Data is exploited
  5. All Defence Data is fit for purpose
  6. All Defence Data will be shared appropriately
  7. There is a single version of the truth
  8. Our people are trained to use data effectively

This Data Management Strategy will go hand in hand with the Single Information Environment (SIE) which ensures the end user has appropriate access to quality data. This vision identified the need to develop an easy way to access, exploit and defend data and to do so through a common technical architecture. This is made more difficult because less than 25% of MOD systems have automatically discoverable data and 33% do not follow international standards for information. This exemplifies the significant challenge in the business and operational exploitation of our data assets with the current data landscape.

Though the technological challenges are great, the MOD are keen to highlight that a culture change is equally necessary with cultural changes required in how they manage, protect and share data, and create new norms for the operation of existing and emerging technologies. This will involve the retraining of existing personnel, and providing the right support, training and education opportunities to professionalise modern technology delivery. This training and education will need to encompass all aspects of the data lifecycle, from data entry through to analytics and innovation, recognising that without good, accessible data our aspirations will not be achieved. Data literacy training and education programmes for staff will be established as part of this and this requires the ability to assess and develop data literacy skills through embedding a competency framework.

The Ministry of Defence states that effective data management is a prerequisite to its transformation and future operational success, it cannot be ignored or under-valued. Indeed, the Defence Data Management Strategy provides data management support for higher-level strategies including Defence Transformation and the Defence Digital Function’s Enabling Warfare in the Information Age (EWITA). Consequently, the foundation activities to a more data-driven Defence have been defined into seven Data Management Strategic Objectives, Outcomes and Benefits:

  1. Improve the availability and accessibility of Defence Data
  2. Implement data governance at all levels of the department to ensure the accountabilities and responsibilities for the upkeep of our data are established and upheld
  3. Improve the quality and veracity of our data
  4. Drive the consistent use of decision-making data across the department to improve the coherency in the information produced from it
  5. Ensure the integrity, confidentiality and security of data
  6. Improve the knowledge education and behaviours of our people to ensure data is managed as a strategic asset
  7. Enable the exploitation of new data-driven technologies to meet information, business and operational challenges.  

Industry, under current contracting arrangements manage large volumes of data used by MOD. Explicit recognition of this role of industry is necessary to bring focus on the requirement to manage that data that has been inaccessible and/or of poor quality in the past. Data governance must include the requirement to manage the relationship between MOD and industry and policy will be developed to cover how these obligations and responsibilities regarding data will be encapsulated in contracts.

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